Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: Panipat

Release date: December 6, 2019
Running time: 165 minutes
Starring: Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon

In 1761, a huge battle was fought between thousands of troops at the fort of Panipat between the Marathas and the King of Afghanistan.  Panipat depicts this battle, as well as the build up to the encounter and all the political and military intrigue that went into it.  Sadashiv Rao Bhau (Kapoor) leads the Marathas to try and expel the invading Ahmad Shah Abdali (Dutt) of Afghanistan.  Along the way there is plenty of drama and betrayal that will turn the tide and decide the victors of this epic battle.

Panipat focuses on a historical battle, but in doing so it recreates many ancient areas.  The sets and costume design are beautiful to see.  I don't know how historically accurate they were, but they look very imaginative and really transport you into this world.  And the dance numbers were very intricate with tons of dancers being used to create some very entertaining intermissions.  The acting is good, if a little over-dramatic.  I really liked Kapoor and Dutt, both for their acting talent and for their contrast.  The two characters they portray are very different and this contrast is interesting to see.  However, at times this contrast is overblown, where the Marathas are portrayed as wonderful, brave, nationalists while Abdali and his army are portrayed as a more sinister force.  It felt overdone and extended to the sets for those characters; the Afghanistan scenes were in dark areas with cold colors like blue.  It felt like the film was trying too hard to tell you who the bad guys were.  And as with many of these conflicts, there were probably several shades of gray in this battle that are lost in the translation to the big screen.  A lot of times this movie feels similar to 300, a stylized recreation of a real battle where the film industry decides to make something more entertaining than accurate.

However, despite being a movie about a major battle, much of the movie involves the build up to the fight.  There are a few minor military confrontations during the first couple of hours, but overall the movie involves a lot of travel and drama with very little fighting.  The few battles that happen before are over relatively quickly so that we can see more talking and intrigue.  Additionally, many of the battles have very obvious CG, which definitely breaks your enjoyment of the fight.  It's tough to get invested in a battle when you can see obviously computer generated canons and explosions that look out of place.  And the fighting itself is very choreographed and not as tight as I would have liked.  There are many sword fights where the swords are clearly not making contact with the other soldier.  All of these break your sense of disbelief during the main draw of this film, the actual battle of Panipat.  

Panipat will take you back to 1761 to watch a defining historical battle.  The film has some really beautiful sets and costumes, charismatic stars, and some really entertaining musical numbers.    

Rent It

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