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Panipat song 'Mard Maratha': Ajay-Atul's anthem marks the rise and glory of the Ashutosh Gowariker saga

The song has a plethora of voices belonging to Ajay - Atul, Sudesh Bhosle, Kunal Ganjawala, Swapnil Bandodkar, Padmanabh Gaikwad, and Priyanka Barve.

Shriram Iyengar

With a title like 'Mard Maratha', there is little doubt as to what the tempo and feel of the first song from Ashutosh Gowariker's upcoming epic, Panipat (2019), is.

Composed by Ajay-Atul, the song highlights the apex of courage, valour, and power that the Peshwa empire displayed under the rule of Balaji Baji Rao also known as Nana Saheb Peshwa prior to the third battle of Panipat. The composition by Ajay-Atul certainly captures the energy and optimism, and the visuals add to the colour and grandeur of Gowariker's cinematic style. 

The song begins at a celebration presided by the ruling Peshwa, Nana Saheb (Mohnish Behl) with his generals and family gathered together. With Arjun Kapoor's Sadashiv Rao Bhau looking on proudly, the gathering sets out to sing of the glories, strength and dedication to honour among the Marathas. 

Needless to say, the setting and the grandeur of the song's picturisation immediately catches the eye. While the comparisons with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani (2015), which is set in a similar era and narrative, is unavoidable, Gowariker opts for a more intimate style. The picturisation lacks the feverish energy of 'Malhari', and captures a sober, regal narrative. The presence of torans and banana leaf placement also offers it a touch of authenticity. 

The composition by Ajay-Atul also stays away from high tempo percussion and thumping beats that usually dominate jingoistic songs. Though this is a song about pride, it sounds low-key and has a naturalistic rhythm. The composers opt for a traditional rhythm that is closer to Marathi music, although this is a departure from the usual thumping, high energy music that people might expect. 

With lyrics by Javed Akhtar, the song also features almost 1,300 dancers and was shot over a span of 13 days. The lyrics flow well, in a staccato style that fits the composition. Where it differs is towards the second stanza. 

With a title like 'Mard Maratha', Gowariker must have thought of running afoul of increasingly 'woke' audiences. The director has smartly incorporated a section in the song for the women stepping up to sing about their own abilities. With Priyanka Barve delivering the lines about laying down their own lives when it comes to pride and love.

Kriti Sanon leads the way as she charms, and performs at the gathering. Interestingly, Arjun Kapoor hardly gets a line except when joining the chorus of his fellow men in arms. 

With an ensemble of singers from Sudesh Bhosle, Kunal Ganjawala, Swapnil Bandodkar, Padmanabh Gaikwad, and Priyanka Barve, Ajay-Atul bring the necessary variety and style. But the song feels like it lacks the thump and energy that might be needed to lift the audience. Needless to say, it is a different song to start the journey of Panipat with. 

Panipat also features Zeenat Aman, Padmini Kolhapure, Sanjay Dutt and Kunal R Kapoor. The film is set to release on 6 December. Watch the song below and let us know if you are keen to watch the film.

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