December 6, 2019
The bar for Hindi film historicals plunged to unprecedented depths last year when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat brazenly edited the truth to cash in on the anti-Muslim sentiment currently pervading India. Since then, Anurag Singh’s Kesari has rivalled that all-time low, distorting a 19th century battle by a Sikh regiment of the British Indian Army against Pathan forces, demonising
rewriting the episode as a long-term fight by the Sikhs for India’s
History has been one of the many casualties of this era of fake news.
It is a measure of the abysmal state of Bollywood that it comes as a relief that Panipat
Still, it is important to note that this lack of nuance is not one-tenth as blatant and tacky as Padmaavat, nor dangerous and hate-filled in the way that film was.
If Panipat remains a middling film despite this, it is because of its complete lack of finesse in addition to the needless romanticisation of the Marathas. A point once made is underlined and then re-underlined by the background score and the use of close-ups, which become particularly problematic when they end up focusing on hammy actors. Sometimes the tone of the narrative becomes ponderous while at other times
Then of course there is the minor matter of facts. Contrary to what the closing text on screen says, avoids saying and implies, in reality the loss to Abdali in the Battle of Panipat grievously affected the Marathas, stalled the spread of their empire in India and in the long run laid the ground for the establishment of most of India as a British colony.
This much laypersons know if they paid attention to their school books. Hopefully a historian will watch this film and offer us a more detailed analysis, but until then a few hours of research even by a non-expert reveals reasons for the Marathas’ failure at Panipat that the film intentionally skips, thus robbing it of additional layers. According to the film,
– the medicine woman he marries despite her lower social status –
Of the main cast, Sanon’s spirited performance as Parvati proves once again that this youngster deserves more than Bollywood has been offering her so far. She is beautiful, has a commanding personality, towards the end of this film offers evidence of impressive fighting skills and can act. In Panipat she also has the benefit of a character who is better fleshed out than most of the rest. In fact, Team Gowariker seems to be making a point to Team Bhansali when Sadashivrao is shown extracting a promise from her that she will not commit Sati if he dies, in sharp contrast to Padmaavat which glorified this regressive practice and treated Rani Padmavati’s Sati like a fashion parade.
Kapoor as actors
So yes, Panipat is shorn of Padmaavat and Kesari’s insidious
Rating (out of 5 stars): 2
CBFC Rating (India):
This review has also been published on Firstpost: