For people who know me personally or even through my reviews know that I am a fan of different cultures and history. Right from a vety young age one of my favourite subjects in school was History. There were so many things that I had learnt about an era that had passed and also about the different cultures and the legacies that were left behind. Today when I see people questioning it, I feel a little sad because for starters, you cannot change what has already passed and second, it is upto you to take some learnings from it and if applicable not to repeat the same mistakes. But as someone has rightly said, “History Repeats Itself” and boy is that true. I always wanted to view different eras onscreen through the medium that I most love which is cinema. While there have been a share of movies made, offlate there were a few films that were either guilty of glorifying a certain sect or accused of doing so by the other side, something that the makers of the new release The Empire was accused of as well. What I would like to put it on record is that as a responsible reviewer, I always judge art the way it has been presented keeping aside my political ideologies or ideologies concerning any particular caste or religion. And if you still have a problem kindly “Google” before writing about the “Mughal”😂. With that I have finished watching the new Series The Empire on Hotstar, is it worth your time, stay tuned. Please note that this review is an unbiased review irrespective of what the history was or would have been taking into account only the art as it has been showcased! Thank you for your patience with the extended introduction!
Story & Screenplay
Loosely based on the Novel “Empire Of The Moghul : Raiders From The North” by Alex Rutherford, The Empire follows the story of the First Mughal Emperor Babur to Invade India. This series traces his entire life. Now I haven’t got an opportunity to read the book, but knowing my fascination with history, The story is powerful and gives history lovers like me a sneak peek into the past. The screenplay is a slow burner. Here I would like to say is that people who would be lovers of fast paced thrillers would really not like the series. Infact, they will find it boring. So you are warned, please know your taste before spending time on this one. I for one really loved the slow and leisurely paced drama. The grandeur of the setting is truely overwhelming perhaps with a touch of authenticity. The screenplay showing Babur in his early stages of life was really enthralling to watch with him facing many challenges as a young soul agaimst some of the strongest of opponents in Samakand(in current day Uzbekistan). The subtle twists and turns don’t seem to be overpowering(this is a historical drama and is bound to be subtle in its treatment). The battles fought is quite nicely executed culminating into a finale that nicely sets it up for season 2 to flourish under Humayun. A small complain that I had was that things in the middle get a tad too slow for my liking, maybe a few scenes could have been rushed through but barring that this is an incredibly well written screenplay that has made the history fan in me satisfied!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues seem authentic to the era which they belong in. The music is pretty good with a captivating BGM that adds to the grandeur of the drama. The art design is magnificent and the canvass on which this series was mounted is brilliant. The cinematography is impressive and action sequences are well designed. The VFX is good for most parts although there is a scope of improvement. Director Mitakshara Kumar has done a fabulous job here. She has earlier assisted Ashutosh Gowarikar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali which definitely reflects in her work. It is a commendable effort in pulling off such a massive series with aplomb!
The performances are simply outstanding. Shabana Azmi as Esan Dawlat is wonderfully restrained yet magnetic in her role. Toranj Kayvon as Gulrukh looks stunning and does a fabulous job particularly towards the back end. Sahher Bambba as Maham is very earnest and it won’t be long before you are charmed by her presence. Aditya Seal as Humayun really does a fine job and expecting him to lead the way in season 2. Dino Morea as Shaibani Khan looks intimidating and he definitely goes all out with his character which has no remorse. He is simply brilliant. Imaad Shah as Qasim looks at ease and makes an impactful presence. Drashti Dhami as Khanzada is the surprise package here. In a meaty role, she definitely matches shoulder to shoulder with the others and does a great job. Rahul Dev as Wazim Khan is outstanding and really understated which works superbly well here. But it is Kunal Kapoor who shines as the Mughal Emperor Babur. His demeanor and personality really play a part in him looking every bit of his role. And he doesn’t go overboard with it. He does full justice to it!
The Empire is visually stunning and a brilliant watch although a bit niche to begin with. Available on Hotstar and Highly Recommended.