Verdict: Panipat is a war feast with Ashutosh Gowariker’s signature style of grandeur.  

Ashutosh Gowariker has been MIA in Bollywood since his last film Mohenjo Daro, which released way back in 2016. The filmmaker behind iconic films like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar now makes his epic comeback with the historical drama Panipat, which is a fictionalized retelling of the Third Battle of Panipat. While the trailer of Panipat evoked mixed reactions among moviegoers, the film has a lot more to offer. Ashutosh Gowariker brings back his signature style of grandeur with a hint of nationalistic flavor, which appeals to the self-esteems of many Indian audiences.

What’s Panipat About:

The movie begins with the Battle of Udgir where Sadashivrao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor) captures the Daulatabad Fort, which weakens the Nizam’s rule in South India and strengthens the Maratha position over the larger part of India. Back at the Maratha capital in Pune, Peshwa Nana Saheb (Mohnish Bahl) is being condescended by his wife Gopika Bai (Padmini Kolhapure) for giving Sadashivrao too much importance. For a brief moment, the Peshwa keeps Sadashivrao away from the battlefield, giving space for a budding romance between Sadashivrao and Parvati Bai (Kriti Sanon). But a call from the north turns Sadashivrao’s attention to the Durrani army, which is on its way to India led by Ahmed Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt). Sadashivrao decides to meet him with full force, leading to the famous battle of Panipat, where the Marathas are betrayed and eventually lose their political stronghold.

What Works:

One of the most satisfying things about Panipat is that Ashutosh Gowariker provides his own touch to the film, rather than ripping off the style of Sanjay Leela Bhansali as period dramas are known to do. Panipat has its own kind of grandeur as is expected from this genre with sets and costumes that complement the era it is being set in. The movie moves at a steady pace with the right amount of scenes dedicated for action, romance, drama, and war. The final battle scene is intense and you even find yourself shedding a tear or two for the fallen Marathas. While Ashutosh Gowariker has taken some liberties with factual consistency, Panipat still makes for a great watch that does not take any sides or try to demean any culture.

From the trailer, both Arjun Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt were being compared to Ranveer Singh from Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat respectively. Similarly, Kriti Sanon was also likened to Deepika Padukone from the aforementioned films. However, the actors do not rip off any performances and provide their original touch to the characters. In fact, it’s hard to distinguish between Sanjay Dutt and his character of Ahmed Shah Abdali, which is simply Sanju in costume. Arjun Kapoor has a towering presence in the film while Kriti Sanon complements him with her innocent charm.

What Could’ve Been Better:

What gave Ashutosh Gowariker’s previous films their iconic status are the remarkable performances by the lead actors, be it Aamir Khan’s Bhuvan or Hrithik Roshan’s Akbar. While the actors play their parts well in Panipat, none of the performances are particularly extraordinary.

Why Should You Watch:

If you enjoy period films, Panipat makes for a great watch. It will certainly appeal to the patriot in you with its celebration of Maratha pride like none other. Don’t judge the movie by its trailer and catch it in all its grandeur on the big screen.