Monday, March 26, 2007
'eklavya:the royal guard'
it is an ensemble cast of amitabh bachchan, sharmila tagore,saif ali khan,vidya balan,jackie shroff,jimmy shergill, raima sen,parikshit sahni and last but not the least boman irani.but then the real star is natarajan subramanian, the cinematographer.
shot almost entirely in rajasthan,raghavendra rathore designed the costumes worn by the various characters.the film was shot in the palace of the royal family of jaipur.nitin desai created the cottage of eklavya.and it looked so authentic that it was seen as an extension of the fort itself.the killing of the rana in the desert in the midst of a moving train with the camels on a run was spectacular.this was shot in a location about 100kms from bikaner.and while shooting, big b got kicked in the head by a camel.he did not suffer any injury because he had a thick turban around his head.
ekalavya,the royal guard lives in a timewarp.he lives only to protect the fort,the king and the dynasty.for nine generations,ekalavya's family has been protecting devigarh,hundreds of years old.now he is ageing and also losing his eyesight.
vidhu vinod chopra who embarks on this ambitious story,loses his way somewhere in the middle.a fastpacced film with that ensemble cast,sweeping cinematography and some fantastic performances.yet,the movie fails to deliver.
the pictures starts with the baritone of amitabh narrating the enduring fable of eklavya.how the young archer gives away his thumb to his proxy guru dronacharya as gurudakshina.that is dharma. ethics.righteousness.and this dharma concept permeates the movie throughout.amitabh as eklavya plays a stellar role.as the faithful guard to the erstwhile royal family of devigarh.the story begins with rana jayawardhana reciting the 18th sonnet of shakespeare when the rani is on her deathbed.he stangulates her as she pines for eklavya.their mentally challenged daugther(raima sen) sees it all though giggling all the time.their son the prince harshwardhan(saif ali khan) returns from london for the funeral.rajo(vidya balan) his childhood sweetheart and the royal family's driver's(parikshit sahni) daughter hands over to him a long-kept secret.then follows a string of palace intrigues.steered by the king's younger brother(jackie shroff) and his son(jimmy shergill).the rana's life is under threat from the farmers.they are being stripped of their lands.the rana and his brother exploit the hopeless situation of the peasants.rana gets a death threat over the phone. and the local dsp(sanjay dutt) the son of an untouchable comes in to investigate.it is too late.then the rana is murdered.who did it? keep guessing.
the picture has a running time of about two hours.there is also just one song.amitabh as usual steals the show with an incredible performance.saif ali khan and vidya bala act well while sharmila tagore is totally wasted.sanjay as the lowercaste cop has a small role but excels.
inspite of the epic sweep and grandiose settings,the pictures fails to touch any chord in you.the priciple of 'dharma' is supposed to be the centre around which the film revolves.if one does not know the chanting of the gayathri mantra, this movie will be a good practising ground.constantly played in the background.
vidhu vinod chopra deserves kudos for a well-directed production which unfortunately is intrinsically flawed to leave a deep impact on you.the body looks beautiful but it lacks a soul.the stunts are expertly executed.sequences like the rana's murder at the railway crossing and the blindfolded eklaya showing off his skills with the knife are visual treats.
go to see the brilliant cinematography,the opulent sets,the fantastic costumes worn by the main actors and some super stunts.paisa vassool.you would have got your money's worth.don't ask for anything more.