Critics Corner review

Review: Inspite of the grandeur & scale, 'The Empire' underwhelms at its core

Rating - ** (2/5) There's only that much that the grand scale and alluring visuals can do to keep a viewer stuck to the screen. If the core - the story and emotions aren't convincing enough, it doesn't transpire into being a worthy watch.

2021-08-27T06:36:00Z
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The Empire

The Empire

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Touted to be the biggest web series to be coming out in India, The Empire on Disney+ Hotstar has definitely had higher stakes than ever. The teasers, trailers and other footage have definitely lived up to the aforementioned claim and it indeed looked bigger than any show so far.

However, is the scale and the grandeur assisted well with the emotions and storyline. Let's find out.


The Storyline


Featured Video

Babur

Babur

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Set in 1526 A.D., the show begins with the aftermath of the first battle of Panipat as a wounded Babur (Kunal Kapoor) is taken back by his soldier. A voiceover explains about it but then catapults back and forth between flashbacks to present day (1526) and near future as well. The saga, in its core is actually simple - the conflict between Babur and Shaybani Khan (Dino Morea) that crossed many limits and Khanzada (Drashti Dhami) being the main casualty of it.


The Good

Grandeur

Grandeur

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

It almost seems like a given but the show has lived up to the fact that it is the biggest show to come in Indian entertainment space. The scale is huge, the sets are ginormous, the special effects are impressive and the overall grandeur is indeed a treat to behold. With the visual aspects, The Empire delivers and excels.


The cinematography of the show is splendid as well. Be it capturing a large scale battle sequence, a simple confrontation between two characters, the camera is placed just apt enough to capture the right mood and the colors and shades are era-appropriate.

The costumes and production design is fantastic. Be it the over-the-top yet eccentric look of Shaybani Khan or the royal and commanding look of Babur, the costumes are the perfect complement to the characters.


Costumes

Costumes

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

The Not-So-Good

Director Mitakshara Kumar

Director Mitakshara Kumar

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Director Mitakshara Kumar has been a protege to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. And that couldn't have been more prevalent. While Kumar makes sure that the outer look and scale is not compromised with and does full justice to it just like Bhansali does with his films; she falters in what makes a show truly watchable - the story and emotions, also just like Bhansali (at times). The story, while so interesting and fascinating in essence becomes surprisingly underwhelming in the way it is adapted here. To make a historical show is difficult in India but with so much mileage, one would expect a better outcome. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen here.


Babur Aisan Daulat Begum

Babur Aisan Daulat Begum

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

As mentioned above, The Empire falters in what should have been the main factor - the emotions and connect. For your viewers to be attached and engrossed with the story and characters for eight episodes long clocking an average of 45 minutes each, you really need a lot for them to be glued. The Empire has way too many dull moments and after a point of time, you just want to stop watching. It doesn't help that some scenes are just preposterous and stereotypical in its portrayal of the royals which is even worse because it becomes predictable.


The Performances

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

To my shock, a veteran like Shabana Azmi has probably been the weakest of the cast. Yes. I can't believe I am writing this. Azmi, a legend otherwise just doesn't seem to have caught hold of the character and ends up being a one-toned character. While she plays the kingmaker, it doesn't help that Azmi has to mouth some ridiculous lines.


Kunal Kapoor

Kunal Kapoor

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Kunal Kapoor looks and dresses the part amazingly well but is entirely unconvincing with his acting performance. Apart from having a stoic look and dialogue delivery, he barely brings anything else to the character. In scenes, where he is required to emote, he doesn't impress.


Dino Morea

Dino Morea

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Dino Morea is seemingly amongst the best performers in the ensemble. Even though his character is bizarrely stereotypical and an amalgamation of Alauddin Khilji-meets-Khal Drogo, Morea has his fun with it and it shows. He makes sure that even with OTT stuff that his character has to do, he makes it look convincing enough.


Drashti Dhami

Drashti Dhami

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

Drashti Dhami is another performer who shines. As Khanzada, she is actually the centerpiece of the conflict between Babur and Shaybani Khan. Dhami makes sure to let her acting chops do the talking and does a fine job in almost every scene. Her TV experience is very helpful here as she is required to do some really OTT acting but as she knows the medium well enough, she has you glued.

The rest of the cast do their jobs well enough but special mentions for actors Rahul Dev, Saher Bammba and Aayam Mehta, who do brilliantly with their respective roles.


The Verdict

The Empire Battle

The Empire Battle

Courtesy : Disney+ Hotstar

There's only that much that the grand scale and alluring visuals can do to keep a viewer stuck to the screen. If the core - the story and emotions aren't convincing enough, it doesn't transpire into being a worthy watch. The Empire ends up being rather underwhelming on multiple occasions and given it is on a streaming platform where shutting it and switching over to something else is easy - it isn't good news.

Rating - ** (2/5)


Comments (4)

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akkub.92
akkub.92 3 months ago Drashti Dhami is awesome in series 👍
Reply thumbs-up 2 thumbs-down 0
Rossalinne
Rossalinne 3 months ago Fast paced
Reply thumbs-up 1 thumbs-down 0
Juhi_04
Juhi_04 3 months ago It was expected. They deserve this low rating. Not everyone wants to see glorification of invaders🤢. Aur Mughals ke upar banao😡. Already there is Takht movie coming in 2022 and then this web series. Kisi ancient dynasty par movie ya series banaane me maut aati hai kya? Ancient means not necessarily Ashoka or CGM but there were other dynasties too like Sony tried Prithvi Vallabh.
Reply thumbs-up 2 thumbs-down 1
RadiantSpark
RadiantSpark 3 months ago I kinda expected this! Honest Review.
Reply thumbs-up 2 thumbs-down 0
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