A historical battle is about to unfold on screen. Ashutosh Gowarikar is set to take us back to the mid-1700s when the country witnessed one of its biggest battles ever. We’re all geared up for the upcoming release of Panipat, starring Sanjay Dutt as the Afghani leader Ahmed Shah Abdali, Arjun Kapoor as the Marathas Commander-in-Chief Sadashivrao Bhau, and Kriti Sanon as his wife, Parvati Bai. The movie is based on the Third Battle of Panipat and releases in theatres on the 6th of December, 2019. The trailer has received mixed reactions so far but the movie is still highly awaited by fans and moviegoers. So before you witness the battle on the big screen, here’s what you need to know about this historical event.

After the death of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Mughal power in India had weakened considerably. Meanwhile, the Marathas still continued to rebel against the Mughals and in 1758, they finally forced Timur Shah Durrani, the son of Ahmed Shah Abdali, out of Punjab and Kashmir.

In retaliation, Ahmed Shah Abdali decided to take on the Marathas. He proceeded towards Lahore and Delhi with his massive troops. Seeing the Afghan forces advance, the Marathas – led by Sadashivrao Bhau – headed towards Delhi with their own army, which was strengthened by other Maratha forces on the way.

During the course of the battle, the Marathas suffered their first setback when the Jats withdrew from the battle. Under the protection of Malharrao Holkar, Raja Suraj Mal Jat of Bharatpur was still willing to meet the Peshwa. But his victories with artillery had made Sadashivrao Bhau overconfident and he decided to arrest Raja Suraj Mal. As Holkar had given his word to the Jat ruler, he turned his back on the Peshwa and escorted the Jat ruler safely out of the reach of Sadashivrao.

Losing Raja Suraj Mal was a major setback for the Marathas as he held power around Delhi and Agra. Even the Rajputs refused to lend support to the Marathas due to bad blood between the two forces. The Sikhs turned their backs on them as well, so they had no support from Punjab.

The Marathas were soon short of food supplies and Bhau won no favors with the other regional kings either. His inability to anticipate the food supplies or leave behind the civilians was a major cause of the defeat of the Marathas.

To add on to their woes, the lack of food led to many tensions within the camp. The chiefs finally begged Sadashivrao Bhau to let them die fighting on the battlefield rather than of starvation. So on the day of Makar Sankranti i.e. January 14 in 1761, the Marathas marched towards the Afghan camp and the two armies faced each other from the wee hours of the morning till evening.

Sadashivrao Bhau had the advantage of a surprise attack but the Afghan army was soon able to overpower the Marathas. Not only were they larger in number, but they were also trained better than Sadashivrao’s troops. By the end of the day, most of the Maratha soldiers were killed, while some others were taken prisoner and others even fled.

The result of the battle of Panipat was a huge disaster for the Marathas. They lost a massive part of their army as well as political power and prestige. However, the Afghans did not have much to gain from their victory either as Ahmed Shah Abdali soon left Delhi. This gave the infamous English East India Company the first opportunity to consolidate its power in India and the rest was…well, history.

Let’s see how much of history unfolds itself in Panipat and how much has been dramatized. Stay updated with the latest news on the film by clicking the ‘Interested’ button below.