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The Empire Looks Like Bhansali’s Out-Takes,  Director Is  A Former Bhansali  Assistant



The Empire

In  The Empire  , Disney-Hotstar’s  series  on the early days  of  the Mughal empire ,the  characters seem  have borrowed their costumes, swords and  elephants from Bhansali productions.

Oftentimes during the playing-time of  the tumultuous  trailer I felt  I was watching Bhansali’s Padmaavat.  There  is the evil  Muhabbat Shaybani (Dino Morea, seems to have worked on his  Hindi-Urdu) who lusts  after the righteous queen Khanzada  Beghum (Drashti Dham) who decides to succumb to  Shaybani’s advances  to save the kingdom.

Dino Morea  looks  like a far less khoonkhar avatar   of  Ranveer Singh way too polite to violate  the Queen without her consent. His passion for  the  forbidden queen doesn’t  scale the obsessive  peaks of Ranveer’s Khilji.  But then that’s  also  the scale of the  presentation. This is  a  boiled-down version of  a Bhansali epic. More space, less  opulence. More history, less grandeur.

I hope Khanzada  Beghum’s  sacrifice   saves  the series  from being  unnecessarily compared with the works of Bhansali.  The trailer looks like out-takes from the epic  filmmaker’s  repertoire with Kunal Kapoor  playing Babur  and  also providing the  voiceover about life and death.

Jeet toh aakhir maut ki hoti hai,” Kunal informs  us. The  Urdu could have been more throaty . The  voice more  authoritative. Never mind. As  a great poet once said, “Kabhi  kissiki muqammal jahan nahin  milta,kahin zameen to  kahin aasman nahin milta.”

The  problem with  The Empire, from  what we see in  the trailer, is  that it crams in way too much  of  the epic spirit: the  big battle scenes with soldiers flying in  the air a la Bajirao Mastani(here we  go  with the Bhansali  comparison again), the excesses  of  a royal  lineage where  greed lust and covetousness are  revealed to the naked eye.The  visuals  in   The Empire are tastefully opulent. No  overpowering  brocaide and thermocol sets.

It looks aesthetic. But how far does the series capture the  inherent lust for power that  underscores the Mughal dynasty?

One more thing. I didn’t see  enough  of  the mighty  Shabana Azmi  in  the trailer. What we did see was explosive and  remarkably restrained. Director Mitakshra Kumar who has assisted Bhansali,  seems  to be  in control of the vast cast and canvas. Whether   the  series talks back to us  with enough dynastic  pride an  fanatical force  or not, remains  to be seen.

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