Film Review: Eklavya – The Royal Guard

Film: Eklavya – The Royal Guard


Producer – Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra


Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Jimmy Shergil, Boman Irani, Raima Sen.


Rating: 3/5


Eklavya – The Royal Guard revolves around a royal dynasty in contemporary India, an empire that no longer rules and has no kingdom. A contemporary, dramatic action thriller, Eklavya marks the return of Vidhu Vinod Chopra as a director after a hiatus of seven years (after Mission Kashmir). And he’s back with a bigger and better film.


Now with Eklavya, Chopra has all the reasons to hold the scepter for being the man who has started once again the creation of Indian cinema (mind you it is cinema and not a film this time).


Amitabh Bachchan plays the title role (Eklavya) in the film, and is the guard of this family who lives to protect them and the kingdom – Devigarh. Eklavya has spent his entire life serving the royals and closely guarding their secrets but now he’s getting old and increasingly blind.


Compromise seems like a term that is non existent for Chopra. Eklavya marks the birth of creating cinema converging with grandeur. From lavish settings to designer costume clad actors; no stone has been left unturned, resulting in fine cinematic experience.


Set in Rajasthan, the plot reveals a shocking occurrence in the royal family. The movie experience commences with the strangulation of the Rani (Sharmila Tagore), who in her last few moments calls out for Eklavya. By her side through this maddening summon, an angry Raja (Boman Irani) strangles her till she can breathe no more. This brings the prince Harshwardhan (Saif Ali Khan) back home, just to be handed a letter that discloses a shocking truth that was hidden from him.


The movie, in the second half, unfolds with the assassination of the king followed by the murder of his brother (Jackie Shroff) and son (Jimmy Shergil). The story progresses with startling revelations that reasons out the intention behind the murders.


If one tries to break the film in parts, we would realize that the movie has a lot of symbolism and metaphors. A fine example of that is the use of the train. The train, though not a character, depicts the wheel of time bringing about some change to the existing plot. The first train sequence one sees the King being murdered in his car and the second time the train itself proves to be the death vehicle, bringing his brother’s life to an end. In both these instances the train can be seen as a metaphor for change or life. This kind of allegory is seen very rarely in Indian films, thus worth a standing ovation. 


Each frame and scene has been well constructed, enhancing the entire movie viewing experience. Though at times one is left with the feeling that maybe all that colour correction and enhancement leaves certain scenes looking far too unrealistic. Like the scene where Harshwardhan is seen sitting on a hill, watching his mother’s pyre being turned to ashes. This scene looks animated rather than inducing some kind of emotion.


On the acting front, one finds no fingers being raised as each one acts the part and looks it too. If there is anyone who requires a special mention it is Boman Irani who essays the role of an insecure king with panache. It is a treat to see actors like Saif Ali Khan and Jimmy Shergil perform, as unlike some, they have grown as actors. Raima Sen has a miniscule role but manages well to emote nothing at all, one would have wished to see Soha Ali Khan play Harshwardhan’s (Saif) sister but alas!


The background score is of great importance to all Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s movies and this one is no exception. What is commendable is the way he manages to amalgamate music with the entire scene, making a great moment into a magnificent one.


It is only obvious to expect Eklavya to begin with a bang and run to packed houses. With the well studded star cast, lack of a better release next week and intensive marketing, expect it to be a good grosser, especially in the overseas. Another factor benefiting it will be the duration of the film (1 hour and 46 minutes), which means more number of shows and greater returns.


Eklavya indeed marks the revival of Indian cinema.


What one learns from Eklavya:

1) There is hope for Indian cinema

2) Grand film are not necessarily senseless films

3) Vidya Balan is Bollywood’s answer to the next big thing

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Sanjay Ram

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