The first half lays the base of the Third Battle of the Panipat in which we see the fight between Sadashivrao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor) and Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt). It starts with Sadashivrao proving himself worthy to Nana Peshwa Rao (Mohnish Bahl). After capturing Udgir fort, Sadashiv gets married to Parvati (Kriti Sanon) and gets allotted to manage the finance of the Maratha kingdom.
To defend the Mughal emperor, Najib-Ud-Daula (Mantra) invites Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt) to India. The dreadful Ahmad Shah challenges Maratha Empire hence initiating the 3rd battle of Panipat. The rest of the story revolves around the battle and how the Maratha empire fought with Abdali & the gang to defend their valour.
Arjun Kapoor gives in everything to portray the role of Sadashivrao Bhau. The efforts are clearly visible from scene 1. It’s commendable for him to pull off such a complicated character. He nails the fighting sequences too and plays well around the accent. Kriti Sanon is a sweet & sincere part of the story. She’s not on the screen to just look good, she acts, she fights & she breaks the boundaries to be Parvati.
Sanjay Dutt plays the guy your parents warn you of. Thankfully, makers don’t follow the formula of making him another Khilji. He’s barbaric, he’s dangerous and Sanjay adapts those qualities with equal ardour. He hits few points, misses few, but overall has a good screen presence. Out of the supporting cast, Mantra stands still with his wicked aura. Mohnish Bahl & Padmini Kolhapure are good in their short roles. Zeenat Aman, with just a single scene, proves her worth of being as good as she has been.
Ashutosh Gowariker takes his time but he gives us something to be in awe of for a long time. It’s really hard to follow the intricate details as he does. To light up the scene with nothing but fire-lamps to the risen sun as Abdali walks towards the war scene, Gowariker hides these little things for very few people to understand. Ashutosh does full justice to the battle scenes, barring few slo-mo shots. There always will be a few sequences in a Gowariker film which he can easily get rid off but then he values the experience more than the tight editing.
Ajay & Atul are the salient winners of the film. Though they’ve done a forgettable job with the songs background score tops anything and everything in the film. The BGM just takes even the ordinary scenes and make it extraordinary by pushing in the adrenaline. Mann Mein Shiva is the best-set song, with all the actors actually devoting them to the song.
Panipat delivers what it promises and does full justice to it. An accurate representation of historic events maintaining the balance well along with being entertaining.