29 August 2008 | irisstrings
A guard's quest to fulfill his religion.
Directed and written by: Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Boman Irani.
Enter a royal mansion of Rajasthan, India that is filled with secrets. The royal guard Eklavya (Amitabh Bachchan) is humble, sincere and ruthless. He is guarding the king Rana Jayawardhan (Boman Irani). Like one of the characters Eklavya from the epic Mahabharata, who cut his thumb off as a gesture of respect when his Archery teacher asks him to as fees for the teaching, this royal guard is also determined to protect his king so as to consider this job as his only Religion. What secrets this mansion is hiding? What happens when one tries to blow off the lid off these secrets? Will Eklavya be able to follow his religion? Well the questions are answered, except for one which you will see at the end.
After giving Khamosh (1985), Parinda (1989) and 1942-A love story (1993) Vidhu Vinod Chopra comes back with his own screenplay and his own vision blended in a big screen art piece. Like those other films he still has his cutting knife as sharp as it was before. Little rugged tip though. Mr Chopra has created a dark sequence that can only be understood from voices in the background. He has created a scene where camera is panning over the entire entrance way towards the mansion that reminds Kubrick and Fincher's fluid-track camera. He has created a thrilling sequence involving a car standing close to a running train along with sprinting camels in one of the deserts of Rajasthan. He has created a dark and glooming atmosphere throughout the entire movie which will keep you glued to your seat. He has a vision and he has stick to it all the way almost till the last 10 minutes of the movie. Actually he did give a sign of a grand finale with Harshwardhan's (Saif Ali Khan) gesture which if Mr Chopra has stayed with then this tale would have made sense and fit to all of the character's intentions. But unfortunately Mr Chopra goes a little further which will steer away this car ride out on a gravel road where the scenery is hazy due to the dust. At this point perhaps he could not decide if he can still continue to be an artist or rather make money out of this? Its upto you how hard you take those 10 minutes. Personally Mr Chhopra was already impressive enough to give an exhilarating experience through his quality cinema.
Mr Bachchan as the royal guard has a style and attitude that would take his character where you believe him completely. When he stands next to the bed where queen Suhasini devi (Sharmila Tagore) is lying, he has the eyes that will negate the possibilities of any words from the screenplay. The sequence of chopping off the bells tied to a flying dove's feet is at first seems little cheesy but sometime later helps you understand how unique his talent is. Though his expressions are not new but still he performs with utter honesty.
Saif Ali Khan as the prince charming lights the screen with his persona. His performance is the second memorable followed by Boman Irani as the king and Vidya Balan as Harshwardhan's lover Rajjo. Jackie Shroff makes a comeback to commercial cinema after quite a while. Seems like Mr Chopra wanted to bring Shubhankar from 1942-A love story. He is little more older, tired and less believable. Sanjay Dutt and Raima Sen contribute a little to the story.
Cinematography by Nataraja Subramanian is quite stunning which requires an auditorium viewing. Eklavya asks a question that how far can you go to be RELIGIOUS? This movie is a great attempt which deserves applause.
My rating: 7/10.