The Empire

Based on Alex Rutherford’s book The Raiders from the north The Empire traces the journey of Babur (Kunal Kapoor) from his ascendancy to power as a teenage Baadshah and also losing his kingdoms in the Fergana valley to eventually capturing back his rightful throne.

Apart from the above mentioned things the series also tells how Babur landed on the Indian frontier and set up his own kingdom by defeating Ibrahim Lodi. Apart from Kunal Kapoor as Babur the ensemble cast also includes Dino Morea, Shabana Azmi, Drashti Dhami, Aditya Seal etc.

Director Mitakshara Kumar is successful in bringing alive the visual tapestry of the book on to the screen but where she falters is the inconsistent screenplay. Apart from the inconsistent screenplay the casting of the lead character is another sore point.

While Alex Rutherford was successful in making you root for Babur through his writings the same cannot be said about The Empire series. In fact Dino Morea as the antagonist Shaibani Khan has the more interesting character.

The most striking aspect of The Empire is undoubtedly its scale. The entire technical department deserves a huge appreciation here. Whether that is the camerawork by Nigam Bomzan or the production design by Priya Suhas.

Dino Morea’s Shaibani Khan is easily the most interesting character of the series. Initially we see him just as a ruthless villain however as the series goes along a psychological insight has been given into why he is the way he is.

His scenes with Babur’s sister played by Drashti Dhami show a different facet to Shaibani. Their scenes have been beautifully done. In spite of similarities with Ranveer’s Khilji Dino Morea still makes a solid impression.

The female characters of Drashti and Shabana Azmi are another good aspect of the series. Drashti particularly shines in her role of Khanzada Begum. She moulds herself well in a character that requires her to be bold yet restrained and impactful.

Shabana Azmi on the other hand has less screen time compared to Dhrashti but the veteran actress makes her every scene count. Both these characters play an active role in the politics of the kingdom and aren’t mere bystanders.

One of the biggest flaws of the Empire series is the ageing of Kunal Kapoor’s character. Kunal Kapoor’s doesn’t appear to age at any point even when Aditya Seal’s Humayun reaches a certain age.

There is an attempt to make Babur aged in the last two episodes but it isn’t convincing in any way. Kunal Kapoor as I earlier said is a miscast. He is physically fine for the role but lacks the emotional heft required. Someone like Hrithik Roshan would have been a perfect choice for this role but physically and emotionally.

Another issue with the show is the hangover of Padmaavat and also Bahubali. The Bahubali aspect can be seen in the character of Rahul Dev who plays the loyal Wazir Khan, his similar to the role of Satyaraj’s Kattapa. Rahul Dev tries to bring in some nuances but there is nothing much he can do with a character like this.

The screenplay is good in quite a lot of scenes but for a show like this it needed to be more compact. There are no unpredictable twists and turns as such which will keep you guessing. In a nutshell The Empire is a watchable show but doesn’t reach the brilliance of the book.

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