With Manikarnika, Kesari, Kalank, Tanaji and Panipat, Bollywood gears up for the year of period blockbusters

2019 will see as many as five Bollywood period films with all touted to become blockbusters at the box office, from Kangana Ranaut's Manikarnika to Ashutosh Gowariker's Panipat.

Abhishek Srivastava January 05, 2019 12:35:36 IST
With Manikarnika, Kesari, Kalank, Tanaji and Panipat, Bollywood gears up for the year of period blockbusters

If you look at the 2019 release schedule of films, you'll realise that it could end up being remembered as the year when Bollywood turned back the clock. Filmmakers seem to have taken a stroll back in time and flipped through the pages of history. In 2019, viewers are all set to witness as many as five period films and all are touted as potential blockbusters at the box office. While Kangana’s Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi will set the ball rolling in January, the subsequent months will be followed by Kesari, Kalank, Tanaji – The Unsung Warrior and finally, before it's curtains on 2019, Ashutosh Gowariker’s magnum opus Panipat will hit theaters. It befuddles that despite the success of films like Lagaan, Gadar, Jodhaa Akbar, Devdas, Gold and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Bahubali post-2000, it took time for filmmakers to get out of their deep slumber. Guess it was the mega success of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat, which forced filmmakers to get back to the drawing board and mine ideas from the past.

Bollywood is known for its fascination for period dramas which dig into a slice of history which is hitherto unknown to audiences. The mass protest which the country witnessed in the wake of Padmaavat’s release only reinforces the belief that filmmakers are in no mood to shun the treasure trove of great stories from the past, come what may.

With Manikarnika Kesari Kalank Tanaji and Panipat Bollywood gears up for the year of period blockbusters

Kangana Ranaut in a still from Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi. Image via Twitter

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (Director - Kangana)

Kangana Ranaut will be seen in the lead role of Rani Lakshmibai in the biopic on the queen of Jhansi. Apart from Kangana, veteran actors like Danny, Suresh Oberoi and Atul Kulkarni will be seen in pivotal roles. After a great stint in television, Ankita Lokhande will make her Bollywood debut with this film. One of the leading figures of the Indian mutiny of 1857, Rani Lakshmibai later became the poster girl of India’s first struggle for independence. The film is slated to explore deep into the life of the queen of Jhansi and will showcase her achievement till her death at the very young age of 30. After director Krish parted ways with the film, Kangana herself took the onus of directing the film which eventually went way beyond its stipulated budget.

Kesari (Director – Anurag Singh)

Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions will be foraying into the territory of period films for the second time in less than a year with Kesari. Last year, Raazi marked Dharma’s debut in the world of period films. The Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra-starrer is about the battle of Saragarhi when an army of 21 Sikh soldiers took on the might of 10000 plus Afghan soldiers in 1897. Akshay Kumar steps into the role of havaldar Ishar Singh whose bravery was somehow forgotten and till date remains a footnote in the annals of history. The film has been helmed my Anurag Singh who in the past has directed a few Punjabi blockbusters.

Kalank (Director – Abhishek Varman)

Kalank will be Dharma Productions second period offering in 2019 after Kesari. In a span of less than a month. The film is a starry affair and boasts a cast including Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sonakshi Sinha. Kalank delves into a period just before partition. Another attraction which which makes the film worth the wait is its director. This is the second offering from Abhishek Varman, whose debut film 2 States was lapped up at the box office in 2014 and also made him a member of the elite club of directors with 100 crore plus box office collection to their credit. The film is slated to hit theatres on 19 April – exactly five years after the release of 2 States.

Tanaji The Unsung Warrior (Director – Om Raut)

Though Ajay Devgn has worked before in The Legend of Bhagat Singh, this is the first time he will be seen in a proper period costume drama. Known for his daredevilry, Tanaji Malsure was a revered military leader in the Maratha Empire and provided an able hand to Shivaji Maharaj in his various battles. The battle of Sinhgadh which took place in 1670 is a testimony to the bravery and military acumen of Tanaji. Touted as Ajay Devgn’s dream project, Tanaji – The Unsung Warrior will reunite the brooding actor with Saif Ali Khan after Omkara. Debutante Om Raut will be directing the film.

Panipat (Director – Ashutosh Gowariker)

Panipat actually spells of director Ashutosh Gowariker’s bravery. Despite having suffered some big blows with period films like Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey and Mohenjo Daro in the past, he has once again turned to history as the subject of his next film. The film deals with the third battle of Panipat when Sadashivrao Bhau, the commander in chief of the Maratha Empire, took on the might of Ahmad Shah Abdali of Durrani Empire from Afghanistan. While Sanjay Dutt will be seen in the role of Ahmad Shah Abdali, Gowariker saw his Sadashivrao Bhau in Arjun Kapoor. Kriti Sanon and Padmini Kolhapure will also be seen in pivotal roles. The shooting of the film is already underway and is slated to hit theatres in the first week of December.

But this won’t be the end. Bollywood’s tryst with the past is expected to continue even in 2020 when films like ‘83, Shamshera, Takht and Rajkumar Santoshi’s interpretation of Battle of Saragarhi will hit theatres.

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