Ashutosh Gowariker is known for his classy well-researched aesthetic epics. Sure, some of them didn’t work at the box offfice. But his commitment to telling a story that is honest decent and engaging is unflinching. Here are the Gowariker epics that cannot afford to miss.
The only Indian film since Mehboob Khan’s Mother India to make it into the Oscars nomination shortlist of Best Foreign Films, Lagaan is to Bollywood cinema what Amitabh Bachchan is to Hindi cinema. A touchstone of massy excellence, no one thought it would last =in the theatres for more than a week. It went on to be a monumental success. According to me this is Aamir Khan’s best film to date.
No one thought Gowariker would go to Shah Rukh Khan after Lagaan (and those irresponsible reports that this film came to SRK after AK turned it down deserve to be sneeringly ignored).This sparsely-told undecorated and unassuming masterpiece just gets to you with its purity of heart. I always feel a filmmaker’s personality is reflected in his work. Every frame had Gowariker’s scrupulous stamp. If Lagaan was Aamir’s finest Swades remains SRK’s most honest and least stylized performance to date. So many NRIs decided to come after watching this film.
Stripping away the extravagance of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s cinema, this costume drama showed how the minimalist approach works to optimum effect when applied to those who lead royal lives. And though Hrithik Roshan’s body language was all wrong, Aishwarya made up for it. She has never looked lovelier or performed with more sincerity in any of her films not even Hum…Dil De Chuke Sanam.
4. What’s Your Rashee (2009):
Though the film failed, I consider this a brave and honourable failure. And by far, Priyanka Chopra’s best performance to date. She played 12 different roles, one each for every horoscope sign. But the film was more than a showreel for Priyanka’s versatility. It showed the multifarious aspects of femininity and how a woman’s personality is weighed down by the demands of the marriage market. You could see this film as 12 different films ,each with a virtuoso performance by Mrs Jonas.
Whoever was comparing this beautiful and austere, illuminating and idealistic historical drama with Sanjay Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani will eat back his words after seeing what Gowariker has achieved. Panipat is a far superior work to any costume-historical drama in recent times. It is ravishing without being showy, engaging without trying to grab our attention, noble and edifying in equal measures. And yes, just as Lagaan is Aamir’s best, Swades is SRK’s best, Jodhaa-Akbar is Aishwarya’s best and What’s Your Rashi is Priyanka’s best. Panipat is Arjun Kapoor’s finest. This Kapoor has finally arrived.