‘The Empire’ Review: It is not history, but historical fiction

The Empire, a prelude to the Moghul rule in India is an adaptation of ‘Empire of the Moghul: Raiders From The North’

The eight-episode series is an adaptation of Rutherford’s ‘Empire of the Moghul: Raiders From The North’ with an unusual but attractive star cast of Dino Morea, Drashti Dhami, Kunal Kapoor, and Shabana Azmi.

Directed by Mitakshara Kumar, the series has picturesquely represented the Timurid Empire grandeurs in shades of indigo and Turquoise, the combination that still paints Uzbekistan.

‘The Empire’: Plot and Characters

The series has some of the best ensembles of artists whose scintillating performances lift the underlying dilemma of running an empire. Produced by Nikhil Advani, ‘The Empire’ begins with Dino Morea as Muhammad Shaybani Khan dragging the king of his newly annexed kingdom by tying him with his horse as a captive. Dino’s Shaybani Khan is a warlord who played a huge role in uniting small Uzbek tribal rulers.

Dino’s performance as a heartless warlord is a critical pleasure that makes you hate the character till Drashti as Khanzada Begam brings out the troubled soul of Shaybani. Shaybani was a war crime victim as a kid who later reflected torture of the same magnitude on his people to ease his pain. The ease at which he killed people or traitors with cold eyes and smiling faces is mind-boggling.

Drashti Dhami’s portrayal of calculated and carefully vulnerable Khanzada Begum is an outstanding contrast to the strong and confused characters of both Babur and Shaybani. Shabana Azmi alias Queen Mother and maternal grandmother of Babur, played by  Kunal Kapoor had a similar role as Dhami. Both the female characters were presented as strong political figures and chief advisors of their king.

The series sketched under the shadows of Bhansali and Games Of Thrones deserves a watch for its own characteristics.

‘The Empire’ starts slowly with characters crying and wailing and cursing and nobody caring about them. But the characters redeem themselves after the first two to three episodes, and the plot progresses rapidly. Kunal as Babur has a slight emotional tinge when dealing with his family woes, and sacrifices made by his near ones for continuing their regality. His narration reflecting his confusion between his duties as king and as a warlord laid a soft ground for the warlord kings  

The Empire Trailer

This series is not about Babur’s rule in India but a prelude to that. It justifies his political and emotional trouble to establish himself as a promising king and an undefeatable warrior.

In the middle, the plot revolves to show the dilemma of the characters through dialogues that slow down the anticipated action. In fair count, Empire has only one proper war scene between Babur and Lodi in the field of Panipat.  It would be more interesting if Kumar would have shown more of this action in the battlefields than in the lavish bedroom chambers or tents at the battlefields.

‘The Empire’: Epic Meets Indian TV Style

The makers have tried hard to retain the essence of the Indian television series. The slow beginning juxtaposed with similar pre-conceived music is tailor-made for Indian audiences. Indian filmmakers have some never-ending love for portraying religion on screen. Keeping up with this tradition, the makers made the Muslim characters say dialogues, which are heavily loaded Urdu words.

In general, Indian Muslims don’t speak Urdu-loaded Hindi. They might have borrowed some words from the poetic language. The heavily loaded dialogue requires a dictionary at times and might sound jarring to ears. Brownie points for make-up and prosthetics.

One thing that makes the series a must-watch is the set. The lavish 1500 century palaces and chambers, the cement block streets are represented with utmost detail and perfection.  Overall, this writer will give 3.5 stars out of five to ‘The Empire‘ and will recommend it as a one-time watch. The series is available on a digital platform, Hotstar VIP in multiple regional languages.

Watch The Empire on Disney+ Hotstar now.

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