Win Some, Lose Some



Film: Panipat

Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Sanjay Dutt

Directed by: Ashutosh Gowarikar

Duration: 2 hrs 53 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

Clocking well past three hours including the intermission, you wonder if the actual battle of Panipat lasted as long as the film. Director Ashutosh Gowarikar has this penchant for making long overdrawn films that are a hit or a miss, mostly the latter given his filmography in the few years. 

On the positive side, Panipat is a lavishly mounted film which cannot be written off completely. Many liberties may have been taken with the core story of the third battle of Panipat, which was quite an eventful one, but cinematically, it keeps you engaged for most parts. The bane again is the unnecessary song and dance sequences that add absolutely no value to the film and only increase the length. We don’t really want to know how the warriors of yore danced, which in all likelihood they didn’t, but just in case. Also, the romantic element is such a drag that you want them to get on with the battle instead of whispering sweet nothings. Imagine if in a film like 300 there were endless scenes between King Leonidas and Gorgo, Queen of Sparta.

Arjun Kapoor plays Sadashiv Rao, a warrior like no other and a part of the Peshwa clan. Their empire was spreading its tentacles to different parts of the country and it was at a time when the Mughal Empire was on its wane in Delhi.

If Bollywood were to make a science fiction film set in space, you can be assured that they will find a way to include songs and romance in it and then this film is initially set in Pune. Parvati bai (Kriti Sanon) is in love with Sadashiv Rao and in her presence, he is as uncomfortable as someone facing an income tax raid. Eventually they get married but since this film is about the battle of Panipat, we learn of the background story – of how Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt, relishing his role) came all the way from Kandahar in Afghanistan and joined hands with some of the local forces to take on the Marathas in the epic battle of Panipat, which, as history tells us, the Afghanis had the better of the Marathas. But since this is a typical Bollywood film and the story is told from the Maratha’s point of view, there is a lot about their valour spiced with jingoism, as expected.  

Once it cuts to the chase and the battle approaches, the film holds fort. The CGI is a mixed bag, occasionally it looks decent and at times, it looks tacky. Fusing elements of history and imagination, the former accounts are interesting as to how the politics of it played out – certain kings sided with the Afghans while others joined hands with the Marathas.

A story like this needed to be told with a certain detachment to be effective, as far as the characters are concerned. By going overboard at times, it loses its essence – take the last few scenes for instance – after all is said, done and understood, it still drags on.

Arjun Kapoor is not the most convincing in the role even though he is earnest. Kriti Sanon as Parvati bai does a pretty decent job while the rest of the cast is apt. If you ignore some of the obvious blemishes, Panipat is watchable and that is quite a compliment for a 3 hr film. 

Three’s Company

Film: Pati Patni Aur Woh

Cast: Kartik Aaryan, Bhumi Pednekar, Ananya Panday

Directed by: Mudassar Aziz       

Duration: 2 hrs 8 mins

Rating: * * 1 / 2

A remake of the 1978 film directed by BR Chopra starring Sanjeev Kumar and Vidya Sinha, Pati Patni Aur Woh is a decent effort, directed by Mudassar Aziz who made the Happy Bhaag Jayegi film. 

With a title like that, you pretty much know what to expect in it. There have been more than a do+++zen films in recent times that are set in the hinterland and they work well primarily because the filmmakers get the lingo and mannerisms right. As a result, the characters look more believable and half the job is done there. Even if the story doesn’t break new ground, genuine characters help the film sail through.

This updated version Pati Patni Aur Woh is set in Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur to be precise. Abhinav (Kartik Aaryan) is an engineer in the PWD and like any parents whose son has a decent job, his family is looking to get him married off. He meets his match in Vedika (Bhumi Pednekar), a feisty woman who makes it very clear to him in the first meeting that she is not a virgin. They hit it off, get hitched and life is good for a few years, till Tapasya (Ananya Panday) walks into his office.

Smitten by her at the workplace and monotony at home, he spins a yarn about his wife having an affair with someone else to gain the young woman’s sympathy. In the original film, it was cancer that struck the wife.

As a plus, the story takes a refreshing rather than archaic look at the state of matters, rather than judging the characters. The dialogues are peppered comic lines and throughout, the tone is lightweight so you can’t really expect any depth to the matter on hand. 

It helps that the casting is perfect – Bhumi Pednekar plays her part as the wife with a certain grace while Ananya Panday has a certain charm. Since the film relies a lot on comic timing, Kartik Aaryan is spot on, on that count. Ditto with Aparshakti Khurrana, who plays his best friend. Effectively, this trio business is an easy watch.