The towering figure of Amitabh Bachchan stands in front of the setting sun and ancient ruins. The big fort looks grand in front of red sky. Amitabh Bachchan standing in his room, his room is totally dark and from the open window he is looking at the big fort against the setting sun. A herd of camel run along side a train in the opposite direction.
The 107 minutes “Eklavya” is made of many such spectacular scenes. Whatever the movie is, its a spectacularly shot movie. Watching it on the big screen makes it look so beautiful that for once you forget that the story is so weak that a few scenes will not make it suitable for a second viewing.
Amitabh Bachchan is Eklavya, the guard of a dynasty whose forefathers have guarded the royalty from generation. The royalty, the King, Rana Jaywardhan is sitting by the dying queen, Rani Suhasinidevi. She is uttering Eklavya’s name. In a fit of rage, the king kills her. Their son Harshwardhan comes back to attend his mother’s funeral. He comes back to find his childhood love, a secret, and a scheming uncle and his son after their wealth. A death threat to the king and a low-caste DCP investigating
If the rest of the story is told then there is nothing to see the movie for. Ofcourse there are those well shot fights and beautiful Rajasthan dessert and wonderful palace and good camera angles. Watch the scene where the drop of tear falls on a hot railway track and immediately evaporates. 15 Minutes in the movie and I almost predicted the end. I did not see the twist in the climax coming but then it won’t be a secret for long.
Vidhu Vinod Chopra (VVC) tries to integrate a lot of things in the two hours. Then there is confusion about when is the story based. Is it near Independence of India when the princely state were on the decline. Some cars are shown as vintage cars, and then you see a SUV with seat belts and all which means the story is set in modern times but in modern times, as far as I know, there are no kings and no king is annexing the land of poor peasants. These are the flaws that the story has which VVC had to take care. We oscillate between royal dynasty and suddenly you see VVC’s “Parinda” playing on the screen. Where and at what time of the century are we exactly? If VVC is proud of his story then atleast have some authenticity in the story.
The climax is sudden. When you think that the movie has ended, there’s a twist. I guess if I hadn’t been talking to my friend, I might have guessed that too. Once you see the first half hour, you are sure of the next 1 hour in the movie.
The one thing that stands out is the way the film is visualized. Looking at the movie on the big screen it is a spectacular movie to watch. Each scene painstakingly planned and executed. On the downside the story is nothing special to write home about.
Saif Ali Khan plays the prince, Harshwardhan. He does not have much to say but acts ok. Do not compare this performance with “Omkara”. That was a much much better performance.
Boman Irani is Rana Jaywardhan, the king and husband to Saif’s mother. Again nothing much he could do. Some of his scenes are good but then as I said nothing much.
Raima Sen plays Saif’s insane sister. Seen at the start of the movie, she conveniently goes missing in the second part.
Vidya Balan is there for couple of scenes and plays Saif’s love interest. She has the kind of been there, done that role.
Jimmy Sheirgil plays Saif’s cousin brother. He had to be mean and shout in some scenes. A little close to the bitter role he played in “Bus Ek Pal”
Jackie Shroff plays Rana Jyotiwardhan, the scheming uncle to Saif. He is turning out to be much better villain than the hero he was. He shines in some scene but that’s it.
Sanjay Dutt plays Pannalal Chohar, the low-caste DCP and he provides some comic relief to the extremely heavy movie. Why does Sanjay Dutt always have to bring that gangster touch to every role he plays. Even when he is a police officer, he speaks like a gangster.
Sharmila Tagore is Saif’s mother in the movie but she is sleeping in one scene and playing with a small boy in the other. No scene with Saif.
Finally Amitabh Bachchan is Eklavya, the royal guard and this is where the movie scores to some extent. Being the servant he is, he has to give a restrained performance. No melodrama, no big dialogs etc. He is almost in all frames of the movie. He gives a wonderful performance, intense and controlled.
Finally the biggest failure of them all, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. I had seen “Parinda” when I was in school. Even being a gangster movie and violent I was bowled over. He had extracted wonderful performance from Jackie Shroff and Nana Patekar. I can still watch the movie for the movie. His next movies did not make any impact. I had seen “1942 – A love story” in the theatres and that was as stunning as “Eklavya” but then it lacked the soul too. Having stunning visuals and breathtaking scenes does not make a good movie although I can hand him to try something different. Thankfully, he has kept only one song and managed to keep the movie under two hour. He avoided dragging the movie and that’s good.
Eklavya is made for Amitabh movie and that’s it. Everyone else share the screen for sometime. The stunts are good, the sets are good and the look is good. It can be seen once but its definitely not a classic. The hype disappoints again.
P.S. : Saw the trailer of “Talasim”. The movie looks like “Lord of the Rings” with Amitabh having the same costume and all those army stuff. VVC is producing the movie. Munnabhai’s third installment looks good. Hope its good!