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It has been chronicled in the Geeta that Eklavya wanted to be Sage Dronacharya's disciple in order to excel at bow and arrow shooting, but was refused because of his low caste. He decided to teach himself, and did excel to such an extent that Dronacharya felt threatened that he would beat his ace disciple, Arjun, so he asked Eklavya for his fee - his right thumb, which Eklavya dutifully cut off and presented it to his Guru. Now in modern India, Nishab, whose father was Eklavya, who gave his life trying to protect his master, has now been re-named Eklavya himself, and has been entrusted to guard the lives of Rana Jaywardhan, Ranimaa Suhasinidevi, and their children, Harsh and Nandini, will be called upon to pay the ultimate price, after he learns that his master, the Rana, has been killed. Eklavya, who also carries a dark family secret, slays the two assailants of the Rana, but then in the process also finds out that th! e one who hired them is his very own son. What will prevail - ... Written by
It was decided, early in production, to shoot the film in an actual palace for authenticity. Scouts were sent and went all over the state of Rajasthan with a tooth-comb to find the perfect location, but finally Vidhu Vinod Chopra, while skimming through a travel magazine, discovered a small picture of a fort in the hills of Devigarh. The fort, now a popular Heritage hotel, was perfect for exterior shots, but was obviously unsuitable for interior shots (as well as the obvious problems of guests, the interiors were modern-looking). So, scouting was undertaken again, but this time over the city of Jaipur. They were finally allowed to shoot interior scenes within the living quarters of the Jaipur Royal Family, thanks to costume designer Prince Raghavendra Rathore. Eklavya's cottage was the only set constructed from scratch. It was so well created that the hotel's guests and visitors assumed it to be a part of the hotel. See more »
Then I, the Royal Guard of this fort... and your father... must perform my sacred duty. Prepare to die.
My own father here to kill me... what better preparation for death. I'm ready.
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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.
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