Writer: Edel Matilda VictorWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
Asoka, Parinda, Lal Baadshah, Prince Valiant
The legend of Eklavya comes from the well-known literary epic of India: The Mahabharata. Eklavya was a low caste talented boy with impassable skills. Most interested in the skill of archery and unable to learn from the great guru Dronacharya who taught the royal princes; Eklavya made an image of him in the jungle and there practiced each day. One fine day, he managed to impress his mentor as he shot 7arrows at his dog with such skill that the dog felt no pain nor was there any bloodshed. Dronacharya did not wish for his royal pupils to be overshadowed by someone of the lower caste and hence asked for a ghastly gift from Eklavya: his right thumb. Humbly and without protest, Eklavya severed his right thumb and offered it at the feet of his guru. He believed that it was what he was called to do-it was his Dharma.
In this film, Eklavya starred by Amitabh Bachchan is a royal guard to the royal citadel Devigarh, located in Rajasthan. For nine generations, his family had protected Devigarh and hence Eklavya's Dharma was to protect even at the cost of his or his loved ones lives the fort, the dynasty, and the king...He had made a vow to himself that the family's secret would die with him on his funeral pyre...or so he thought...
The movie is set in contemporary India and is of a once royal family living in a time warp. Prince Harshwardhan (Saif Ali Khan), heir of the throne, unable to cope with the unjust customs ruling the land has stayed away in London but returns reluctantly for the untimely death of his mum, Queen Suhasinidevi (Sharmila Tagore). The kingdom together with his mentally challenged sister, Nandini (Raima Sen) and his childhood sweetheart, Rajjo (Vidya Balan) are overjoyed with his return but the excitement is short-lived.
The kingdom is in chaos as a very deep family secret is revealed that if discovered could uproot the whole Harshwardhan dynasty. There is betrayal, deceit, confusion and blood shed as plans are made to keep this secret undercover. Farmers are being stripped off their lands and the King, Rana Jaywardhan (Boman Irani) influenced by his brother, Rana Jyotiwardhan (Jackie Shroff) supports the injustice. The king receives a death threat over the phone and Inspector Pannalal Chohar (Sanjay Dutt) is called to investigate. As audiences, we are led from one crime scene to another until the motives behind them slowly unfurl. This is when the main philosophy of the movie: "Dharma (Duty) is not what others decide for you, it is what your heart and mind guide you to do" is questioned. Eklavya is faced between having to decide what his heart tells him to do and what his previous generations have instilled in him.
Eklavya The Royal Guard reassesses the piercing myth of Eklavya and relates it to the modern India. The film has a special lingering effect for today's world which is coated with hate and extremism born from fanatical belief.
The beauty of Eklavya lies in its short length-less than 2hours! It wastes no time with songs as there is only one song scene for the whole movie. The story was beautifully edited and portrayed by director Vindhu Vinod Chopra who makes his comeback after 7years.
Another plus point to note of course is the strong characters of the movie. Amitabh Bachchan is simply perfect for the lead role and delivers his part flawlessly. He delivers an impressive persona almost in all scenes. Saif Ali Khan stands tallest among all supporting characters and does a good job too. Sanjay Dutt is a born natural when it comes to adorable and he brings about the jovial scenes in the movie by his mere dialogue! Vidya Balan looks beautiful in her role as Saif's beloved and even Amitabh is noted to have said that he was amazed at how naturally she played her part.
The scenery of Rajasthan is simply breathtaking and don't be fooled if you seem to think that it was shot overseas. Two thumbs up for cinematography as you'll definitely be leaving the theatre with a few scenes still stuck in your mind! To be noted is the pigeon sequence and the train-camels scene where 600camels were used for the shot! Oh not forgetting the chilling scenes when Amitabh reacts to sound and not sight!
This movie has definitely taken a different toll to Hindi film production of late and is a must watch.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008