The Empire is no Game of Thrones

The Empire

Be it a clash of civilizations as their commonality or a threat from the rising Mughal Empire, at the heart of it lays Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad Babur. The rich and intriguing history of the Mughals in itself is so diverse and unique that it bounds to the history fanatics like a mucilage. When the first trailer of Disney Hotstar’s ‘The Empire’ dropped, many assumed it to be another lookalike of Game of Thrones. This eight-episode series looks too long especially with the dramatic phases of the Indian cinematography, but after watching the series, one thing is obvious- It’s ain’t Game of Thrones.

Perhaps for the people interested in history, The Empire might be even better!

This period drama of Kunal Kapoor and Shabana Azmi sticks like gum when you start watching it. It is a sincere attempt to explore history without much mirch masala. The series is based on Alex Rutherford’s Empire of the Moghul – Raiders of the North. It begins with young Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad Babur, who at the age of 14 is crowned as a king of Fergana, present-day Uzbekistan. Young Babur played by Mehroos Mir is portrayed as a sensitive person who performs his duties with moral and innate humanity. Yet with time and experience, he learns to cut throats when it comes to a threat to his Reign.

Dino Morea plays Shaybani Khan, the nemesis of Babur. His acting is especially phenomenal but does has a hinge of Ranveer’s Khilji. The diverse cast also includes Shabana Azmi, Drashti Dhami, and Rahul Dev in prominent roles. Azmi as Esan Dawlat remains flawless with her skills and justifies the character to the best. Her role as Babur’s grandmother is to guide him through his younger years and maintain the reign of Mughals even when it’s without a kingdom.

The readable autobiographical ‘Baburnama’, suggests that Babur was brutally honest in confessing his faults and limitations. Apart from battles and bloodshed, he does have eyes for beauty and humanity- partially different than what we assume. He hails from a family of minor nobles but raises to establish the great Mughal Empire in India.

The Empire

Drashti Dhami plays Khanzada Begum, Babur’s elder sister, who in the series is portrayed as a witty and intelligent lady who goes against anything to maintain her loyalty for her blood. It is her immense acting and the weight of the character, that she outshines Kunal Kapoor as Babur. Her character is strong, fierce, and yet is very emotional. Popular for her role as Geet and Madhubala, Dhami’s Khanzada is definitely the kingmaker. Kunal Kapoor plays the protogonist, Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad Babur. Though he does justice with the character yet there are times when his convey of intentions doesn’t translate very well.

Rahul Dev character as Wazir Khan lacks screentime and is short-lived. But despite that, being an experienced actor, he does pull off brilliantly. He would definitely surprise you with his ace acting. This magnum opus by Nikkhil Advani and Mitakshara Kumar exceeds expectations, especially on the aesthetic level. The beautiful and magnificent set leaves viewers with astonishment and amazement as each of its episodes drops. Yet the show definitely lacks VFX and CGI, which are very sloppy and visible. Apart from it the costumes and language do display an array of Mughal traditions but with a ‘Hindustani’ touch. The Empire is definitely a good attempt at exploring Indian history and revisiting the era of the Mughals.

Despite the story being known to everyone, like who will succeed whom, the narration makes it a first-time experience. The suspense, twists, and betrayals will definitely make you google history at least once! The first season of the series stretches out from Babur to Humanyun, and from Uzbekistan to India. The show is expected to have more seasons, with each portraying the story of Mughal rulers.

The Empire is one among the promising series for history enthusiasts, while for the one seeking entertainment it would be a disappointment.


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