Back in 1994, Sanjay Khan directed The Great Maratha for Doordarshan. For most of us, it was the first visual depiction of a battle that could not be won with flying arrows that emit electricity, as we saw in BR Chopra’s Mahabharata or Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana. That, and Jhansi Ki Rani, the Varsha Usgaonkar-starrer, which also reigned in the 90s.
Nearly 25 years later, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat tugs on those nostalgia strings. He has everything that we saw in The Great Maratha, which could have been an advantage, given we lap up everything 90s these days. The problem, however, is that our eyes are also 25 years mature. And now, Gowariker’s presentation seems lacklustre, borderline cartoonish due to terrible CGI work, and eventually, just not magnanimous enough.
All the comparisons with Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat the Panipat trailer had to face right after its release are justified. But in Gowariker’s defence, Maratha warriors dressed alike, so Ranveer Singh’s Bajirao and Arjun Kapoor’s Sadashiv Rao Bhau look similar (also, Sadashiv was Bajirao’s nephew). Kriti Sanon’s Parvati Bai will remind you of Priyanka Chopra’s Kashi Bai. For she cannot be seen wearing Alexander McQueen, can she?