Eklavya (Amitab Bachchan) is the guard of citadel in Rajasthan. His family has been the royal guards of the fort for centuries. Eklavya is a passionate royal guard whose loyalty, dedication and passion towards his job is unflinching. Rani (Sharmila Tagore), in her death bed, keeps chanting the name of Eklavya in the presence of her husband Rana (Boman Irani). Later on a dark secret is revealed. And the main story of the film is about the fallouts happen due to that royal secret.
The best things about this film are limited number of characters and perfect casting. This film boasts of top-notch actors doing the important roles. Amitab Bachchan is ultimate in the lead role. He masterfully blended the emotions as a loyal servant as well as the longing father. Saif Ali Khan is perfect as the son going through complex emotions. Sanjay Dutt provides great relief with his 3 limited episodes in this film. Boman Irani is excellent as the Rana. Vidya Balan is tender as the village belle who loves Saif Ali. Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Shergill are excellent as the relatives of Rana. Raima Sen is exceptionally good as mentally challenged sister of Saif.
Story: The basic set-up and story reminds us of typical theatrical plays with limited characters and limited locations. The characterizations are very good. The characterization of Ekalavya (regarding unflinching loyalty) reminds us of Anthony Hopkins’s butler character in ‘The Remains of the day’ (click for jeevimovie.com review). The way the writer could run the traits of Ekalavya (of Mahabharat) in the principle character in this film is very authentic.
Screenplay - direction: Screenplay of the film is very good and direction is top class. Vidhu Vonid Chopra has his style of directing the films with perfect class elements. He established the concept of Dharma in the titles of the film and then carried it through the characters of mother, son and Amitab. He blended the two threads of Ekalavya’s loyalty to his master and his love towards his son in an interesting way. He extracted superb performances from his actors. The best thing about the film is its length. The length of the this film is little short of 2 hours (12 reels). He should be commended for ending the film like that instead of prolonging it for 2 and half hours. The brilliance in this film is executed in the following superb scenes -
1. Amitab displaying his prowess in shooting bells of a dove with a blindfold.
2. The killing episode at railway track.
3. The killing episode in the home theater.
Other departments: Cinematography by S Natarajan Subramaniam is admirable. He exploited the limited locations of fort and deserts in a pleasing way. Music by Shantanu Moitra is first rate. Stunts by Tinu Varma are superb. Dialogue work by Swanand Kirkire deserves an appreciation. Art work is good. Production values of this film are grand.
Analysis: This film breaks many norms of a typical Bollywood film. This film’s length is under 2 hours. It has only one song. This film has many dialogues in complex Hindi and speaks constantly about Dharma. The story of the film is revealed at regular intervals with some surprising moments. This film picks up a taboo subject and makes it appealing. The only drawback of the film is too much of seriousness in the script. These kinds of scripts would not appeal to common movie goers. But ‘Eklavya’ is a an excellent class film and I recommend it to all serious movie lovers.
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