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Eklavya belongs to Amitabh Bachchan!

Aprajita Anil

Posted: Feb 16, 2007 at 1625 hrs IST

Movie: Eklavya

Rating: ***

Cast: Eklavya (Amitabh Bachchan), Harshwardhan (Saif Ali Khan), Rajjo (Vidya Balan), Nandini, (Raima Sen), Jaywardhan (Boman Irani), Jyotiwardhan (Jackie Shroff ), Udaywardhan (Jimmy Shergill), Pannalala (Sanjay Dutt)

Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

After a 7-year sabbatical, Vidhu Vinod Chopra has returned donning his director’s cap. A different theme, a different track, a different time altogether! And it is this difference which Chopra has packaged together in his new venture – Eklavya. How well-plaited are the different strides… well, it’s Vidhu Vinod Chopra, so had to be good. But again, since it is Vidhu Vinod Chopra, it should have been great.

Eklavya was the royal guard protecting the old Devigarh fort. The tradition had been running in his family for nine generations. Being responsible for his majesty Rana Jaywardhan, the aging Eklavya not once allowed his age to become a stumbling block. Alert and loyal, Eklavya also guarded several secrets of the royal family.

Though the dynasty was fading, royal powers held no meaning and the existence of the kingdom was pseudo, the king was too captured in time and stuck in his own era. The urge to reign supreme was so high that jealousy forced him to kill his own queen.

Influenced by his brother Rana Jyotiwardhan and nephew Udaywardhan, he relished the essence of his ‘royalhood’ by causing unrest among the farmers and the low-caste. But soon fell prey to his own brother, who was scheming all out in overthrowing him to take over Devigarh.

Prince Harshwardhan, who preferred staying away from the unrealistic monarchy, was forced to return home after his mother’s death. All he wanted was to fulfil his mother’s last wish but what he got was more than that. The whole world tumbled down, as he stood face-to-face with the unexpected and unleashed tempest.

And what followed was a series of shattering events, astounding secrets and shocking revelations.

The 1.5-hour long film has enough twists and turns to keep you tied to your seat. The performances are all worth mentioning.

Amitabh Bachchan, who has brilliantly essayed the role of Eklavya, is outstanding. With the right amount of anger, perfect quantity of passion, accurate measure of silence and of course the awe-striking voice, Bachchan has brought life into Eklavya flawlessly. And so-much-so that even the Rolls Royce, which was gifted, cannot evaluate the priceless performance. The film indeed belongs to him.

And if anyone came close to the Big B performance, it was definitely the ‘Chote Nawab’. And if you think of it, perhaps no other Bollywood actor could have enacted the role the way Saif did. The élan and elegance with the right royal touch, certainly made him stand out. A pat on the back!

Vidya Balan… she has looked beautiful no doubt and did everything she had to do with grace. BUT… her role lacked substance. The character failed to give her the platform to display her real talent. And hasn’t that been happening too frequently with her these days?!

Raima Sen fails to play her character – the mentally challenged sister. Her performance is more like that of an immature school girl. She seems out of rhythm and most of her expressions seem repetitive. Unfortunate let down…

Boman Irani is a talented actor and he has once again proved it. Jimmy Shergill has evolved as an actor and his courage blend with the negative shades has given him a new face. Jacki Shroff has done well. But his appearance is uncomfortable. Maybe for all his off-late ventures, there seems nothing new about his presence.

Sanjay Dutt but not without that ‘but’ factor. There is no questioning Baba about his acting skills. But the minute you see him on screen you feel as if he’s the same police man who was in Thanedar, except for that hair-cut. His shirt remains open the same way. He talks with the same expression, walks in same shabby manner. Yes, it blends well his role but does not have a fresh impact.

Despite all the heavy-duty performers, the film still has a scope to be further tightened. There is not editing problem. Not once would you feel that there was no need for this. It’s crisp, outright and to-the-point.

The loopholes lie in presentation of Dutt’s character. Although designed to add some light flavour and fervour to the script, there are some unbelievable episodes. And the end scene gets a little indigestible.

The last scene altogether takes away the seriousness and realistic tone the film maintained throughout. The stereotyped dialogues and oh-so-expected words were not filtered correctly. It seemed as if the director was in a complete mood give it a fairytale ending. Not a bad idea at all. Only if it had a little more substance.

But yes, Chopra has wonderfully weaved together a difficult script and managed to extract astounding performances by each and everyone. It’s perhaps for Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s talent that the off-track storyline came out beautifully. Else it would have been nothing more than a costume drama. It can be possible for a director only of his calibre, to exploit such an out-dated script and paint it with such energy and life.

And let’s not forget, the director has not resorted to the usual Bollywood masala and dance-and-drama. There’s just one beautiful song that reverberates through the film.

But except for few not-so-okay scenes here and there, the film is definitely worth spending for.

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