Arjun Kapoor: 'Panipat' is not a history lesson. Also has emotion
The upcoming war drama 'Panipat' joins a line of Hindi movies in recent years, focusing on some of the main battles in medieval India. The director of Ashutosh Gowariker focuses on the Third battle of Panipat (1761), in which the invader and conqueror Ahmed Shah Abdali assumed the power of the Maratha Empire, whose forces were led by Sadashiv Rao Bhau. The two tracks of the movie: Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanon – who play Sadashiv Rao Bhau and his wife Parvati Bai, were in Delhi to promote the film last week. They spoke about the film’s historical accuracy and the hard work required to get into the characters.
Arjun, who is doing a period drama for the first time in his career, said he was awed by the real story behind the film, which inspired him to say yes to it. He said, “When I heard the story of the Maratha Empire and about the Third battle of Panipat , I felt this story needs to be told. It’s a film every Indian will be proud of because it is one of the most patriotic stories. I said yes to this film at once because the story makes you feel that emotion.” The actor added that the film does take creative liberties and deviates from history though. “The events shown in the film were played out over nine months. The film shows that in a little over two hours. So, of course, there are things that have been left out and episodes that have been built upon but that is the director’s call. That is his vision on how he wants to tell the story. This is not a history lesson. You can have a history lesson but how do you get the emotion? That’s where the film comes in. You need to feel for these people,” he added.
The actors talked about the sense of responsibility they felt while doing the film, since it deals with actual historical events and figures. Kriti said, “With every film, you have to do your homework so that you get the essence of your character. Here, the character you play was once alive. You play a person who was part of history. It’s factual, not fiction. So there is a little bit of responsibility. You want to do it right.” And a large part of “doing it right” involved learning Marathi, which was a challenge for Kriti, who comes from a Punjabi family. She recounted, “I come from Delhi. I’m a Punjabi and Marathi is a very different language. When I did 'Bareilly Ki Barfi', the UP dialect was easier to adopt because it was closer to the Delhi dialect. It was close to how we talk. So I thought I need to speak Marathi properly even though it has been spoken very less in the film. But I still wanted some command over it. I needed to speak it like I have been using that language since my childhood. There was a dialect coach who used to sit with me and go through all the Marathi dialogues before every scene. It was hard work but worth it.”
Arjun confessed that he was also nervous about something else: the possibility of confronting face to face with Sanjay Dutt, who rehearses the role of Ahmed Shah Abdali in the film. Arjun said: When I asked Ashu sir ( Ashutosh Gowariker ), whom I had planned to launch for Ahmed Shah Abdali, told me that he had already signed Sanjay Dutt. I was surprised because I knew I wouldn't be able to deal with Sanjay Dutt. I wasn't nervous. I was sure I can't do it. But to the director's credit, he made sure it was Ahmed Shah Abdali against Sadashiv Rao Bhau. At no time tried Sanjay Dutt preferentially and make me feel like I’m inferior in terms of my stardom and achievement in life.”