Panipat Trailer Sparks Concerns of Misrepresentation Amongst Afghans
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Panipat Trailer Sparks Concerns of Misrepresentation Amongst Afghans

Arjun Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt starrer, Panipat seems to be embroiled in a controversy as many states that Ahmad Shah Abdali is shown in a bad light in the film

Bollywood films and trailers - and the celebrities - sometimes tend to stir controversies. Earlier, the likes of Padmaavat was hailed as a misrepresentation of historic figures and traditions and this time around it is Panipat which has come under the radar. Starring Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon in lead roles, Panipat - the trailer of which was released yesterday - is based on the battle of the same name, which took place in 1761 between the Marathi Empire and Afghanistan. While the trailer has also come under fire for not being interesting enough, many Afghans have taken it as an insult to their former king.

According to an Afghan publication called Pajhwok, Sanjay portrayal of the Afghan King, Ahmad Shah Abdali in the film offends the Afghans' sentiments and insults their former leader. They are also claiming - that much like Padmaavat - the Panipat trailer does not show the battle of Panipat in a proper historical perspective. Upon the release of Sanjay's character's first look, Afghanistan's Ambassador to India, Shaida Abdali tweeted, "Historically, the Indian cinema has been extremely instrumental in strengthening the Indo-Afghan ties - I very much hope that the film, Panipat, has kept that fact in mind while dealing with this important episode of our shared history!"

He also recalled meeting the governor of Maharastra to share the concern with him but has not received a response so far. The publication also added that Ajmal Alamzai - the culture attache at the Afghan embassy in Delhi - claimed that he came to know about the project several years ago and launched an investigation. He said that he had emailed the director to share the contents of the film, however, film officials replied, stating that it was against their policy. Later, the filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker confirmed to Ajmal that only historical facts have been portrayed, nothing else.

Babrak Akbari - an Afghan actor who essays Torbaaz in Panipat - also shared his two cents regarding the film. In a video message - that has been translated on the publication - he said, "I’m along with Sanjay Dutt in the movie. I also came to know of concerns through WatsApp, Facebook and Messenger that the movie would show a bad image of Ahmad Shah Abdali. But there is nothing like that in the film. If it contained anything against Afghanistan, I would have never worked in it."

While efforts are being made to confirm that no historical facts are destroyed, many are taking to social media to share their perspective on Sanjay's character. One user wrote, "Those Afghans who are criticising Panipat just because they think that Abdali is being portrayed as a villain should know that Abdali might be a great hero for them but he did invade India and killed many civilians apart from enemy soldiers. So he's a villain for us."

Another added, "Sir, we understand your concern. But we cannot change what Ahmed shah Abdali did in the Panipat war. Yes, he defeated Marathas. But what his army did to people cannot be changed. It's history. Hope our Afghan friends understand that."

The battle of Panipat that took place centuries ago was won by Ahmad Shah Abdali wherein more than 50,000 Indian soldiers were killed. However, the publication states that the film shows the Marathas winning the historic war. Set in the 18th century, the film shows the Marathas emerge as the most powerful empire in India. However, their happiness was short lived, thus leading to the third battle between the two armies. The battle is considered one of the largest fought in the 18th century with the largest number of fatalities in a single day.

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By Shaheera Anwar
A multimedia journalist who keeps a keen eye on the latest happenings in the world of entertainment and often writes reviews along with opinion pieces on some of the most-talked-about debates