Battle lines are drawn with Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon and Sanjay Dutt joining forces to bring to life ‘Panipat’, their Maratha warrior epic out in the UAE on December 5.
Gulf News tabloid! caught up with its lead players Kapoor and Sanon to find out more about their warrior epic ...
Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor, who plays the revered Maratha warrior Sadashiv Rao Bhau, calls his new film ‘Panipat’ a war film that chronicles a significant war fought by India against Afghanistan rulers in the 18th century. It’s a story about an epic battle that highlights the Maratha valour, claims Kapoor.
“Sadashiv Rao Bhau wanted to put an Indian army together to fight the invaders. At that time, India was known as this ‘sone ki chididya’ [golden bird] and the invaders wanted to plunder us and stay. This was the first time that an army was created to put up a united front. It’s an actual war that took place in India and wears its patriotism on its sleeve,” said Kapoor in an interview with Gulf News tabloid! ahead of his film.
‘Panipat’ is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker whose credits include acclaimed features such as ‘Lagaan’, ‘Swades’ and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’. Kapoor describes him as a filmmaker with an impressive command over India’s rich and eventful history. He was born in the wrong era, says Kapoor fondly.
“He is a gentle giant. I have never heard him raise his voice in the one year that we shot together. He is very relaxed and fully aware of what he is doing. He is fully in command and control of the project. He is like a professor of history and gives you an understanding of what happened during that era. I spent hours talking to him,” said Kapoor.
‘Panipat’ will see Kriti Sanon play Parvatibai, the wife of Sadashiv Rao Bahu. It’s the first time that Sanon will feature in a film with Kapoor. Like most Indians, she wasn’t too well-versed with the growth and the battles fought by Maratha warriors.
“I was actually amazed when I heard the script because I wasn’t really aware of what happened during the third battle of ‘Panipat’. There was bravery, valour, drama and betrayal that happened. ‘Panipat’ is about bringing a part of our Indian history alive.”
Popular actor Sanjay Dutt plays the fierce antagonist and Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali in ‘Panipat’.
In an unprecedented move, Arjun Kapoor hit back at the trolls and memes that floated on social media as soon as the posters and teasers of ‘Panipat’ were released. The initial publicity stills reminded many of Bollywood’s hit period films such as director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s sweeping romance ‘Bajirao Mastani’.
“It’s unfair and in bad taste. You should be brought up better than that... Just because you all don’t know that Sadashiv Rao Bhau was a warrior of our country, it doesn’t give you the right to make him seem less of a person,” said Kapoor, adding that martyrs like Subhash Chandra Bhose or Bhagat Singh are never poked fun at.
“Remember that person’s family that you are poking fun at still exists... Don’t let your trolls leave a bad taste in their mouths. They are all martyrs at the end of the day. If you can celebrate Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman coming back from Pakistan, then you have to learn to have that same dignity,” said Kapoor.
He’s also quick to point out that he’s usually relaxed and calm about handling memes, but the patriot in him didn’t allow the snide remarks against a real-life warrior slide.
“I know it’s better to be silent and that a film will speak based on its merit... But social media has become a bitter, negative place. People have told me nasty things since my first film and I realise that social media is not real … Films that have been panned on social media have gone on to do massive business... But there has to be some kind of line drawn,” said Kapoor.
Sanon and Kapoor found filming in Jaipur for a battle epic such as ‘Panipat’ tough and physically challenging.
“We were practically eating a kilo of sand every day... It was draining physically because the action scenes were very challenging. Wearing that nath [nose ring], the Nauvari Saree [nine-yard sari worn by Maharashtrian women] and that whole hairstyle meant that I couldn’t lie down between shots. The sari was comfortable though and transported me to another era. Somehow in that sari, I had a different body language... But it wasn’t easy shooting in that hot climate and doing action scenes in that sari. I remember being engulfed by sand,” said Sanon.
Arjun Kapoor learnt horse-riding and went bald for this role.
“As an actor, we have to submit and succumb to our role. Eventually all that adds up and changes our body language and emotions. The moment I wore an armour, it helped me get into the character instantly. I have tried to be as honest as I can with this film,” said Kapoor.
Both Sanon and Kapoor are craving to surprise their fans with their new film.
“The dream is to go beyond people’s expectations and that’s what you thrive on and crave for as an actor... Ashutosh was the captain of the ship and that energy translated and allowed me to become Sadashivrao Bhau... The movie goes beyond education and text books can teach us.”
Panipat isn’t another ‘Bajirao Mastani’, the 2016 period blockbuster featuring Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in a romantic triangle.
“Bajirao Mastani dealt with the emotional arc of its principal characters within the Maratha empire. But ‘Panipat’ is a true account of their bravery and Maratha valour... I truly believe that this film will strike a chord with the audience and I hope our sensibilities match,” said Kapoor.
Kriti Sanon says films like ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and ‘Panipat’ are epics set in a certain period, and you can’t take too many cinematic liberties with history.
“I can’t tell my director ‘make me look different’ from other films... We are dealing with history and facts... Two actors will always approach a role differently. We will have our own take. Any actor who plays a bubbly role is often compared to Geet from ‘Jab We Met’, but that doesn’t mean those two bubbly characters are the same. As an actor, you can never avoid comparisons. The truth is that there are only a few period war films made in Bollywood. They are not made everyday and comparisons will crop up if you are seeing an unfamiliar world,” said Sanon.
Don’t Miss It!
‘Panipat’ is out in the UAE on December 5. Watch the trailer below: