Eklavya: The Royal Guard (2007) Poster

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7/10
A Modern Ode to Shakespeare.
ilpintl22 February 2007
It's always fun making it to the first screening of a new film on the very day it opens. My film-crazy friends and I habitually did this in our college days. Long years later, the thrill has not worn off. This time, the film I lined up to watch at its first screening in town is "Eklavya – The Royal Bodyguard". Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the filmmaker who, in the capacity of either director or producer, gave us "Parinda", "Mission Kashmir", "Parineeta", and the two wonderful Munna Bhai movies, was unveiling his new directorial effort, and I was eager to see what lay in store.

"Eklavya" boasts a huge cast of eminent actors; how their services would be utilized has piqued my curiosity for some time. The glittering line-up features Amitabh Bachchan in the title role, along with Chopra regulars Saif Ali Khan, Sunjay Dutt, the exquisite Vidya Balan, Boman Irani, Parikshat Sahni, Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Sher Gill, Raima Sen, and an elegant cameo by Sharmila Tagore.

The film opens with the unmistakable voice of Amitabh Bachchan narrating the legend of Eklavya from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Eklavya, a child of undistinguished antecedents yearns to study archery under the tutelage of Dronacharya, the instructor of kings. Contemptuous of his low birth, Dronacharya refuses to accept Eklavya as a student. Undeterred, Eklavya builds a clay effigy of Dronacharya and ceaselessly practices archery before it. Soon after, Dronacharya is taken aback by Eklavya's proficiency, which has outstripped that of his princely pupils. As it wouldn't do for this commoner's skills to rival those of the royalty, the crafty Dronacharya demands a "dakshina" or teacher's fee from Eklavya. Whatever you wish, the devoted lad replies. Your right thumb--that is what I want as my "dakshina", commands Dronacharya. Without hesitation, Eklavya slices off the thumb, knowing full well it would end his prowess in archery. The story is meant to illustrate the notion of "dharma" or the fulfillment of one's sacred duty in any circumstance, regardless of cost. Off screen, the child to whom Amitabh recounts the story protests this outcome, and his shrill tones are the voice of reason.

Amitabh, like his dutiful namesake Eklavya, is the loyal manservant and bodyguard of a line of minor royalty in Rajasthan. Despite the family's tyrannical ways, he unswervingly stands by them. The film unfolds in the present, but this particular royal family still resides in a fog of past glory, entitlement, and unquestioned power. Their continuing nastiness has made the natives restless, and the worm is about to turn.

The Queen Mother's (Sharmila Tagore) deathbed revelation sets the somewhat baroque, overwrought plot in motion. The heir apparent (Saif Ali Khan), who had earlier fled the principality in disgust at the profligate ways of his relatives, is summoned home for her funeral. Before breathing her last, the Queen pens a letter to her son spilling the proverbial beans. This confession causes a domino effect of cross and double cross, intrigue and counter-intrigue.

The film has the look and feel of a stately epic, but Vidhu Vinod Chopra is not interested in the luxuriant pace associated with epics. There is a business-like economy in his approach. There is no waxing philosophical about the misdeeds that have brought this family to its present ugly impasse. He appears to say that was then, in the past, there's no time for that; let's simply watch how their karmic debts are collected now. Voice-overs and numerous brisk flashbacks provide just enough expository detail to follow the events unfolding in the present. The pace is breathless, as though generations of past injustices can wait no longer for expiation. Every now and then, there is a moment of stillness, which one wishes would be held a few seconds longer for the mood to be savored. An effective scene on the palace ramparts is reminiscent of the ghostly visitation in "Hamlet", and the wraith, despite no lines to declaim, has similar impact.

Amitabh Bachchan's magisterial performance as a man programmed for blind duty, having to suddenly distinguish between obligation and reason transcends the silliness of the plot. Saif Ali Khan impresses yet again; there is maturity and depth in his performance as the conflicted prince with the populist conscience. Unlike "Parineeta", Vidya Balan doesn't have a whole lot to do here, but is dignified and graceful in her few scenes as the commoner in love with a prince. Boman Irani, an actor of sweeping range and intelligence, is a hoot with his hissy fits and sloe-eyed ambiguity, while Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Sher Gill, as the wicked uncle and cousin, handle the villainy with lip-smacking gusto. Sunjay Dutt, fresh off his Munnabhai success, is a welcome presence as the investigating police officer with little patience for the anachronisms of fiefdoms and effete royalty. What a pleasure it is to see Sharmila Tagore, who retains her looks and glamor despite the passage of the years.

"Eklavya" displays a most un-Indian efficiency (in film-making terms, at least) and speed (a mere 105 minutes) in telling its tale that had me longing for a little more of some of the characters. It would be interesting to see just how much of the film was left on the editing room floor…perhaps the DVD will have the deleted scenes. Music is used appropriately: there is a lone song, of which only a judicious snatch is used on screen. The cinematography makes full use of the gorgeous Rajasthani terrain, with its pitiless crags and sun-scorched sands. Clearly, Vidhu Vinod Chopra has an eye on international audiences for his film, and glowing endorsements from the likes of Ralph Fiennes enhance his chances. Here's to you, Mr. Chopra, and more power to you.
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8/10
Dharma Redefined
Aditya Pant17 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At the surface, the idea behind Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya may seem terribly anachronistic. After all who talks about the outmoded concept of Dharma in this time and age? But that's precisely the point. The philosophy of Dharma is as relevant today as it was during the time of the mythical Eklavya. Only, its definition has changed. Through Eklavya, Vidhu Vinod Chopra tries to debunk the belief that Dharma is all about following the path of righteousness as defined by tradition; rather, he endorses the view that righteousness is not an absolute concept but has to be rooted in reason - Dharmah Matibhyah Utgritah.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra takes the idea from well known tale from the Mahabharata, gives it a distinctly Shakesperean flavour, and comes up with a fascinating multi-layered saga of duty, honour, loyalty and deceit - and above all, the true meaning of Dharma. He takes a potentially melodramatic content and presents it in a largely undramatic style. Well....that's not entirely true. Let me put it this way, he deliberately makes his actors be less theatrical so that the he can create drama through other means - music, camera, visuals, etc. At times he completely goes against popular conventions. Scenes that one would expect to be dramatic are laid out subtly, whereas melodrama finds centre stage in scenes that would otherwise be routine scenes. That's the most interesting part about Eklavya.

The protagonist, Eklavya (Amitabh Bachchan) is a man of unmistakable honour. He is a 'royal guard' who would do anything to protect his royal masters because that's his Dharma. He would sacrifice his emotions to guard a royal secret because that's his Dharma. In that respect, he is in some sort of a time warp - the world around him has moved on but he still lives by what tradition dictates. This contrast is brilliantly depicted in the film by the character of Pannalal Chauhar (Sanjay Dutt) - an untouchable who questions the traditions because in today's time he probably has more 'power' than the royal family and thus demands respect that his ancestors never got.

The beauty of Eklavya does not lie in its theme, rather it's the director's vision and actors' sincerity that make it stand out. The theme demands the visual opulence that Vidhu Vinod Chopra lends it, every frame of the movie being visually perfect. But it's not that either. The director pushes the envelope here and conjures some brilliant, sometimes even surrealistic and abstruse, imagery. Forget the travesty called Kareeb, with Eklavya Vidhu Vinod Chopra gets back his groove. Remember his first film, a documentary called An Encounter with Faces, was nominated for an Oscar (I don't think many people even know this fact).

It's clearly not the director's intention to make a crowd-pleasing film. His desire to do something out of the ordinary is evident all through the film, but he is particularly audacious when he chooses to blank out the screen completely for a full 90 second. Imagine watching an extremely 'visual' film in a dark theatre and the screen going completely blank for such a long time! The director pulls it off so well that this scene becomes the film's highpoint.

I have one problem with the film though. The ending seems to belong to an entirely different film. There's no place for a neat, crowd-pleasing wrap-up ending in this dark and grim tale. Why the director should succumb to pleasing the audiences in the last 5 minutes of the film, when he has defiantly stood against it in first 100 - I just don't understand. My other problem is that they're promoting the film as an "edge-of-the-seat dramatic action thriller" which is like doing gross injustice to this gem of a film - 'dramatic' is probably the only word in this phrase that applies to Eklavya. If people walk into the theatres expecting an action thriller, they'll be disappointed big time.

Eklavya is marked by some great performances. Amitabh Bachchan in the title roles comes up with a really Rolls Royce deserving performance. His character demands reticence, but he uses his expressive eyes so effectively that he's able to convey what even pages and pages of dialogue would fail to do. Saif Ali Khan seems to get better with each film, and has learnt the art of subtlety and underplaying for dramatic effect. In this film he is effectively restrained, even in the scene when the real twist in the tale comes in. If your attention flags even for a moment, you would miss the revelation because the drama is contained and there are no high-voltage theatrics here. That, in my opinion, is as much a credit to Saif Ali Khan's performance as it is to the director's conceptualization of the scene.

All through its 107 minutes, Eklavya kept reminding me of Vishal Bhardwaj's Omkara and Maqbool because of its Shakesperean quality. Any comparisons would be fallacious, for Chopra and Bhardwaj are two very different directors, with very different sensibilities. Vishal's approach is earthy and raw, while Vidhu Vinod Chopra goes for more polish and bigger scale. But they have one thing in common - whatever they serve is delicious and hugely satisfying!
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It takes more to make a good film than putting together some beautiful shots.
Chrysanthepop27 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Having heard all the rumours surrounding 'Eklavya' and reading the reviews, I was quite curious about it. Most friend told me that the film is visually stunning but the screenplay is what lets it down. Somehow I too feel the same. I did find the plot interesting in parts (with some clever twists) and the mystery was well-built but it does drag at some point (even though it's about 105 minutes) while other scenes could have been more effective had they been given more time. The songs should have been better left out (even though there were only very few). The ending is hugely disappointing and I just don't feel a happy ending was suitable for such a dark film.

On the positive side, the film is visually beautiful to watch. It is technically well-made. The cinematography and art direction are remarkable and special effects are impressive. Most sequences have been wonderfully shot. The interiors of the palace and Rajasthan look great. Having seen '1942, A Love Story', 'Mission Kashmir' and 'Parinda', I never thought of Chopra as one of the greatest directors and 'Eklavya' doesn't make any difference either but he deserves credit for handling a few sequences very well e.g. Udaywardhan's murder scene.

Amitabh Bachchan in the title role is mostly disappointing. He carries the same facial expression throughout the whole film. He's the only one with a fleshed out role while the rest of the cast (some talented names) don't really have much to do. Saif Ali Khan is alright too. This isn't among his finest performances but what more could an actor do with a not-so-well written role? Jimmy Shergill stands out in a tiny role. Ditto for Jackie Shroff. Boman Irani goes over the top in a few scenes but is otherwise pretty good. Sharmila Tagore and Sanjay Dutt are wasted. Vidya Balan does well with a badly written role. Raima Sen does well.

'Eklavya' mainly fails because of the screenplay that could have been very engaging if Chopra had given it more focus rather than try to make it appeal to the audience by limiting it to 100 minutes or giving it a happy ending. This just proves that story should come first especially for films like 'Eklavya' which is plot driven (and to an extent character driven). This film also proves that putting some great shots together doesn't necessarily make a good film. Do I think this movie deserves to go to the Oscars? Certainly not.
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9/10
cinema at its best
twenty_one_grams18 February 2007
Vidhu Vinod Chopra has always been the master stylist...repertoire is full of cinematic brilliance...whether it was Parinda where he showcased a underworld gangster with haunting memories...or 1947 a love story..a power house packed romantic film in the backdrop of Quit India movement...or it was Mission Kashmir where estranged son and father fought and valley burnt in their anguish...his narration has always been packed with a grip, sheer brilliance of dialog delivery, daunting back score music and use of lights and camera angles which reminds you of Guru Dutt's work...no doubt Vidhu has his traits in all his protégé, be it Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Hirani or Pardeep Sarkar... so when one hears it took him five years to pen the screenplay of Eklavya, the expectations had to be high.

But then Eklavya is no disappointment. a failing dynasty with frail rulers, a secret seeded deep in heart, and dilapidated royal guard trying to keep secret intact. There is heresy, treachery, pain, unrequited love all wrapped beautifully in four walls of a grandiose palace (..Heard its Maharani Gayatri Devi's. Palace).... shimmering chandeliers, royal swords, candle lit harem's...they are mesmerizing...and so are the actors who have slipped into their characters as if they are living them from ages.. Mr. Bachchan is powerhouse at its best...Saif is yet again reserved but impact full...Jackie and Jimmy are at their evil best. It's amazing to see Balan making her presence felt among all stalwarts. So does Raima impress. Sanjay is flawless in his rustic, vindictive demeanor. But its Boman with niceties of queen, which make you realize, he is one hell of an actor.

The narration is what makes it impeccably, nicely told, not a scene out of context. Good camera work during panoramic view of palace. The use of special effects adds gravity to story. It's another brilliance from master stylist and best story narrator in film industry.
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6/10
Not what it should have been
MovieBuff18 February 2007
Eklavya is a lesson in movie making. It shows you how a bad screenplay can rip apart what could have been a gem.

The flaws are way too elementary and can not be covered by the good performances from Amitabh and Saif and some eye catching cinematography. Too much time wasted on Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Shergil (why were the characters required at all in the script, can some one explain please). Too many clichéd romantic moments between Saif and Vidya Balan, who sleepwalks through her "doormat" character. The dialogues in the second half of the film make you wonder if the writer got tired with the eloquence of the first half and copied the lines from a Lost and Found drama of the eighties.

IMHO, more energy could have been spent on Sharmila's character and Amitabhs relation with her; or his relation with the characters played by Saif and Boman Irani for that matter. Maybe that would have given more grip to the story line which, truth be told, did not justify a full feature.

Eklavya is definitely not the worst that we have seen from Mr Vinod Chopra (remember Kareeb?...well, no one does) but he should still stick to producing movies. There must be better ways of spending the money Munna Bhai series is making him
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10/10
An absolute beautiful film and a must see
springsunnywinter11 October 2007
A lot of critics recommended Eklavya if you liked Guru or Omkara. But I didn't like them at all and I rented Eklavya because there was no other film that looks good to watch. I thought that it would just turn out to be another disposable movie but it didn't.

The film had an amazing story told in a very neat way about a royal guard of a rich family who is also like a family member and is going to avenge the murder of his master. It had an excellent blend of emotional drama & thriller; the most emotional scene was when Eklavya met Saif Ali Khan for the first time.

The best scene of the whole film was when Eklavya was blindfolded and threw his knife at a flying dove with a bell tied to its foot and managed to cut off the bell without hurting the dove, later he caught the bell before it fell into the water. Also shows that he has poor eyesight but has really good hearing.

The casting was great and Amitabh Bachchan is simply the No 1 in Bollywood, he was the best throughout the whole film and he never fails to impress. Running length is small but it was better that way because it's like a story telling film that starts to get boring after 2 hours but it was 1 hour 40 minutes, which was better. Unlike Guru which was 2.5 hours and could of been cut down to half.

Overall it is an absolute beautiful film and a must see. Although it was flopped at box office but was critically acclaimed and might be nominated for an Oscar because it certainly does deserves it. I couldn't see a single mistake in the film also it doesn't have a single useless scene and the ending was perfect. There was only 1 song "Chanda Re" which was a very nice, light and heartfelt song.
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7/10
Feast for eyes...
Amrit Singh20 February 2007
VV Chopra takes on the director's baton after 7 years and unleashes a treat for your senses... your visual senses in particular. Eklavya is nothing less than poetry on celluloid. It's still a wonder why VV Chopra took so long to go behind the camera again, when he can produce such a masterstroke so effortlessly, so effectively.

Technically the film scores in almost all departments. Stunning cinematography is the highest point of the film after Chopra's direction of course. Visually the movie is so delightful with vivid colors of Rajasthan splashed all over the screen. The forts never looked so beautiful, so alive. You can actually feel the royal feel of the film in the costumes, art direction and the whole setup. There is an aura of class all over.

Director is able to extract solid performances from everyone in the cast. Amitabh, as expected excels once again in the title role. Sharmila Tagore could have been used better. Sanjay Dutt, the most enjoyable character, should have been given some more screen presence.

But the biggest drawback of Eklavya is in the most important part. The story. Despite being a rather short film, with only about 120 minutes of running time, the film seems dragging. The second half in particular is slow paced. You might start loosing interest by the end of 1st half itself. If it was not the brilliance in direction, you might even give leaving in the interval a thought. Even the Parineeta chemistry between Saif and Vidya Balan seems to be lost this time.

If only the script had been a bit stronger, a bit more gripping, we easily had a winner in hand. Eklavya is not a looser anyway.

Welcome back Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the director. Don't make us wait so long again.
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9/10
Simply a great film
aeneas51516 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think Amitabh Bachchan's performance was a thing of brilliance, definitely up there with his best work. The story takes no time in getting going, throwing you right into the plot from the very beginning. The movie never drags, and while there are plenty of characters, almost all of them get their appropriate time to bring to light their true personalities (would have like to have seen more of Jimmy Shergill).

Saif Ali Khan is really coming into his own as an actor, and I might need to be hit for saying this so late. With Omkara, Being Cyrus and now this, he has moved himself into the premier circle of Bollywood actors. And if someone could resonate warmth on screen the way Vidya Balan does, I would like to see it, as she is magnificent once again.

I really cannot take much away from this movie at all, as it presents a very serious, fast-paced drama, and finishes off with just the right amount of humor. Bravo!
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10/10
A must for every cinegoer!
yourz_sanju16 February 2007
The movie has excellent star casting. first time ever i have liked an Indian movie and i am confused to decide whether which character in the movie was played well. its not that there is no other Indian movie that has been created well, but watching Eklavya was just a different experience. while you are watching " Eklavya" , you feel no matter how many other movie this actors have done for v.v.c. before, they act completely different. in other words all of the character reminds you that they have a new and better ways of expressing the dialogues of the script. the is not too lengthy. and yet it wont seem like there is any cut off.

Every actor in EKLAVYA – THE ROYAL GUARD stands out for terrific portrayal. Sanjay Dutt has a brief role, but he's fantastic all through.Vidya Balan is superb yet again. There's no stopping this actress! Boman Irani is first-rate in a negative role. Watch him interact with Sharmila Tagore in the very first scene and with Jackie subsequently to know the range of this gifted actor. Jimmy Shergill introduces you to a hitherto unknown facet of his talent. He excels in a negative role. Jackie Shroff gets a meaty role yet again in a Vidhu Vinod Chopra film. He's wonderful. Raima Sen leaves a mark in a significant role. Sharmila Tagore exudes class in a cameo. Parikshit Sahni is efficient.

EKLAVYA – THE ROYAL GUARD is an opulent film, with a gargantuan cast, gripping story seeped in Indian emotions and values, striking visuals and topnotch making as its trump cards. Without a shred of doubt, it's one of the finest products to come out of the Hindi film industry.
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5/10
A failed saga
Manoj Ransing11 January 2008
Eklavya certainly does not do justice to the creation with such great actors of current era. The problem is lack of entertainment, which is consistently absent in failed movies of VV Chopra '1947 – A love story', 'Mission Kashmir', 'Parineeta'. May be this is the reason these movies do not do any good on box office. But still it is hard to say that the movies were bad. These movies provide a very less entertainment.

Eklavya too lacks entertainment. Moreover it fails to take best out of the actors. It also does not make a clear picture of what the director wants to convey. I guess introduction of unnecessary characters has killed the main theme. The characters of Sanjay Dutt, Boman Irani and Vidya Balan has very limited role which do not do any justice to the acting skills of these good actors.

The movie is really good for the eyes. One thing in which VV Chopra has scored point is the environment making. The sketch of rural India is very effective. The big palace, its surrounding, the entire town and also the dessert fits perfectly to the theme, and there is no issue there. The music is also matching with this environment and soothing to the ear.

All the actors have done a good job. You can not think any other person in the role of Eklavya other than Amitabh Bachhan. This man do not need dialogs to talk. Saif has also given full justice to his character. Audience can get his emotions and can find the battle he is playing with himself, not knowing what decision is right or wrong. Jackey Shroff and Jim Shergill have done decent in their negative characters. Others though have very limited roles has done their best and fits the characters that they have done.

The unrealistic and larger than life picture of main character is another weak point. The scene where Amitabh shows his aiming and concentration skills was unnecessary, and takes the movie on the fairy tale path. Not only this, but again many other scenes should have been shortened in length. This is what makes the movie boring.

I feel that if VV looks at his flop films, he himself will understand the problem. The movie is more than the main path Bollywood movie, takes the path of the art movie. So it dangles in between this, and at the end, ends nowhere.
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8/10
Classy movie with brilliant performances
movie_freak_dubai19 February 2007
Is it me or has Bollywood really stepped up to a new level these past two years. Performances, locations, directors, make-up and art direction are entering new heights of excellence. While this movie is not perfect, Kudos to Vinod Chopra and his production team in providing the cinema going public with a classy movie. Great locations, great back ground music and powerhouse yet subtle, nuanced performances make this a great watch in the cinema.

Bollywood actors seemed to have learned how to underplay and downplay the usual melodrama to give performances that leave a lasting impact. The Big B does not really have much dialogue but his protective and watchful presence can be felt throughout the movie even when he is not in the scene. Now for the Vinot Chopra regulars - After a good performance in the disappointing salaam namaste, saif has been cranking out great performance after performance ( being cyrus, omkara) and Eklavya is no different. He really holds his own against the big B. The supporting cast are all wonderful - Boman Irani was powerful, Jackie had a strong menacing role which was ably suppported by Jimmy Shergill, Vidya Balan mesmerizing as always. Raima Sen and Sharmila Tagore were effective and of course the always excellent Sanjay Dutt in a small role that lightens the mood somewhat.

Yes the movie does have a huge star cast but in my opinion the true stars of this movie are the director Mr. VV chopra and the astounding palace/fort location used for the film shoot.

This movie can be considered a novelty in Bollywood and I feel it deserves to be watched. It looks as if Yash Raj films, VC films and to a small extent RGV films seem to be at the forefront of Bollywood film making in terms of excellence, profitability and risk taking.
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7/10
A guard's quest to fulfill his religion.
irisstrings29 August 2008
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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7/10
To be or not to be...The Eklavya ( of Mahabharata )
saumya1458817 February 2007
On paper, this movie had all the makings of a classic...a hugely talented superstar cast, a unique and creative storyline and an artistic assortment of cinematic spices like emotion, tender romance, jealousy, greed, mystery and a lip smacking element of surprise in the end. Yet sadly on screen, the director fails to synchronize all these tools into a well oiled machine; in short, the movie fails to grip the audience.

going by its length, under two hours which is remarkably short for a Hindi movie, one would have expected the movie to unfold at breakneck pace...the kind of tempo that keeps your hips gyrating on the edge of the seat; however, the pace is sluggish for most parts.

set in a captivating palace of Rajasthan, it traces the emotional roller coaster ride of the royal palace guard Eklavya ( amitabh bachchan in a memorable performance ) who is put to the cruelest of altars in the end when he is faced with a choice between his loyalty and his son...

Saif ali khan as the son, Vidya balan and Sanjay Dutt all give beautiful performances, although the focus never really manages to shift out of the magnetic persona of Amitabh, who plays the role with such rigorous conviction that every crease in his face or every hint of a tear in his eyes more than makes up for the lack of dialogs in the movie..Eklavya is a movie of personal choices and the overly challenging task of choosing the lesser of the two wrongs, or for that matter, the better of the two rights...

barring the tortoise pace, which is not quite so bothersome as the screens blank under a couple of hours, the movie is quite worth watching for the sheer gravity of performances.
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7/10
Nice view
daniel schut23 March 2007
Two reasons why this movie is a good reason to watch: the first is the visuals. Rajastan is a beautiful place for sure, but dear god, does this movie make the most of it! There where times when I was actually holding my breath in awe of the sheer visual poetry that flashes across the screen.

The second reason: the acting. All the other commenters already cheered Big B's performance, and true, he really reaches unsurpassable form here. But be sure to also have an eye for Shroff, Irani, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan: they also give an impresssive performance.

What's less good of the movie is the way the characters develop. VVD has a goldmine of a storyline here but he fails to mine it: we could have easily seen more of Big B's doubts about dharma, more of Saif Ali Khan's uneasy steps on the path of palace intrigue and treachery, more of Dutt's feeling as a scheduled caste DSP involved in outdated monarchical madness,more of Shroff's agitation as the king's younger brother - the story now is told in such a way that it leaves you guessing too much at what the characters would be going through, so that at the climax you recognize: this would have been a heart-breaking tragic scene of more then epic proportions, if only you would have felt more...

So,all in all, a good performance and a great visual tour of Rajastan - but not the brilliant movie you can easily understand it could have been.
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3/10
falling back for ideas
v290921 February 2007
The movie seems to be good but only from the outside.The story has definitely been weaved around amithabh bhachan.The comparison with the character ekalavya of the Mahabharata is too fanciful.I could not find any resemblance with the real character's touchy position. The movie's settings could have carried it off as historical movie but there was a modern tinge to it for no apparent reason.The performance of the characters was up to the mark. The royal guard is given so much importance and it is strange to observe that there are no other servants in the movie. Overall there is a lot of confusion as to whose dharma is right and what is dharma and what generates it.
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10/10
The first serious contender for Oscar from India.
hkb_singh5 October 2007
The visuals, the characters, the mood and music all add up to a superlative entertaining experience. The photography and other technical elements without the cacophony that gets into all Bollywood movies makes this a cool experience. Very modern in technique and captures drama of royal living of kings of Rajasthan without the gimmickry of palace on wheels or the loud noise of festival of India. A must have DVD for all Hindi film buffs. All characters have been given equal opportunity to show their talents. Good luck to Eklavya! All actors have given performance that is expected from them. It is well balanced and does not have unnecessary cosmetic scenes that seem to be a staple of Hindi films. Perhaps that is the reason why it did not do so well at the box office. It must not be an accident that Amitabh Bacchan gets to play the lead role. It will be a befitting award for the great actor now approaching the sunset of his acting years.
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6/10
Royalty revisited
sandhirflora17 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Eklavya-The Royal Guard (2007)

A Film Review by Sandhir Flora

Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra returned to film direction after a gap of six years since his last directorial venture-Mission Kashmir (2000). And yes, he delivered. It is definitely unconventional, offbeat and therefore not meant for masses or popular audience (you don't see huge crowds here outside ticket windows) as it does not forces itself into incorporating the common recipes of box office. . If you have some preconceived notions as to films should be like this or that than surely this is not a film for you. It will not touch your heart for sure as tales about royalty, loyalty, traditions and duties are something audience don't find contemporary. But yes if you believe in an rather a simple, interesting story retold rather unconventionally, an intrigue drama that takes you to a journey of mystery and darkness, here is your stuff. It opens with a dying Maharani, and as her son visits for the last rites, things starts unfolding from there leading into a world of mystery and an element of suspense, as some murders took place. If you call cinema a structure than this film explores some new dimensions in terms of visuals (camerawork, set design) as well as sound, which created absolute magic to mesmerize you. Action sequences and visual effects here can compete with any international class movie, I bet. But film lets you down in narrative part at places where pace completely slackens. Good that it is just 110 minutes long with one song. All actors fitted perfectly to their characters but where Mr. Bachchan touched another milestone, Boman Irani though good is a miscast. Another high, Chopra did not unnecessary tossed with the length of roles of actors that other directors normally do to please their respective stars considering their star status. The clash of upper cast and lower cast is redundant to an extent as it is not well defined and so is concept of "Eklavya", which in the given context appears irrelevant. All in all, it is not a piece of cinematic excellence but surely a visual treat, a mark above that average stuff available these days.

My personal opinion: This product is better than Chopra's own last year release grossly over-hyped largely misinterpreted but just an average "Lagey Raho Munnabhai".
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3/10
Techincally Weak
indigshai-118 February 2007
The movie is mediocre at best. Definitely not worth the hype. The movie is plagued by a weak storyline and editing.Old Bollywood plot being used for past 60 years used for this movie. The movie show signs of weak editing. The movie has been stretched around Amitabh and lacks character development of other actors in the movie. One can understand he is a main selling point, but actors like Sanjay, Jackie suffer. Hardly any time is devoted to their character development. Information has been repeated in several scenes. For a short running movie this is definitely a sign of weakness. I suppose the pre-production was not well thought.Information is repeated several times. Scenes are pro-longed unnecessarily. This makes the movie boring between the middle run. I would say the movie is technically and directorial weak. Seems like a dry soap opera at best.
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2/10
A 'ROYAL' mess
from_christmas_past20 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Can a perfect recipe end in a tasteless dish? Yes. Vidhu Vinod Chopra had the perfect raw material- India's finest actors, a brilliant cinematographer, best technical equipment. Above all, with the backdrop of a modern royal family, he had an opportunity to bake a gripping drama of emotions, betrayal, and character. Yet, 'Eklavya' emerged as the final product..

Chopra's only point is whether eklavya was wrong in not challenging the tradition (dharma). It is a thought-provoking subject, but chopra uses such a deuced round-the-corner approach to get to it. The entire movie is senselessly maneuvered to reach a point in the end where such a question could be asked. A good movie would have tried to explore this conflict between tradition and conscience throughout such that the conflict serves as a core to the movie. But, Eklavya manufactures irrelevant events before this question is placed to be answered in one swift action (stunt, if you like).

Ironically, a character-based movie like 'Eklavya' pivots on underdeveloped characters. The director suddenly introduces the character and expects us to understand their positions and allegiances. A little more of character-delving would have added strength to the film. Most characters are either explicitly bad or explicitly blind (pun unintended). Eklavaya's (Amitabh)conflict between duty and parenthood is never clearly represented. NOt until the very end, which is perhaps the only meaningful part of the movie. Eklavaya character, in absence of any development, emerges as puerile- an immature guard who acts only on instinct and remains oblivious to the truth before it is thrown at his face.. Saif remains wooden and leaves the audiences to wake up in between and decide what his character is up to. The ladies are treated as fillers when an over-intense drama has to be temporarily paused.

In the end, You feel nothing for the characters. you want to cry for eklavya, but you don't know him enough. You want to hate Jackie Shroff and his son, but director doesn't inspire you to. You don't know what to feel for saif, since more time is spent in showing his romance than his place in the drama.

The problem is that since there is very little to happen in the movie, it drags at leisurely pace giving scenes which make bear no relevance on the ultimate message. Bad actors could have made this movie intolerable, but bollywood's finest rescue it. Amitabh and saif do full justice to the inexplicable characters given to them. Others hold their own, except the usually brilliant Bomaan Irani, whose eccentric portrayal of the king is annoying.

Sadly, Bollywood is infested so much with mediocrity that anything different is hailed as a masterpiece. Eklavya is different, but it is pointless. it completely squanders the head-start given by brilliant backdrops and imaginative camera work. Incidentally, for this technical brilliance only, it deserves the 2 stars given to it.
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10/10
Strong and Encouraging - Reviews and Reactions
peace-dove4 October 2007
Robert L. Friedman, the former President of Columbia Pictures and AMC Theaters applauded it as one of the great foreign films to have graced Hollywood in recent years. He further added, "The caring and most talented direction by Vidhu Vinod Chopra is worthy of maximum praise and awards. Mr. Chopra has created a masterpiece via this film, thanks to his genuine insight and love for his film vehicle. 'Eklavya' is a movie that transcends all geographical boundaries - a movie for all people, everywhere, it represents the very best that India's great film-making community has to offer."

Lionel Wigram, Producer of the Harry Potter films, said "It's a masterpiece and I can safely say that it stands an excellent chance of winning India a much awaited Oscar in the foreign film category."

Jeffery Silver, Producer of the film 300, found it to be "a thriller that elevates to the level of art."

The critics have also been unanimous in their praise:

"Vidhu Vinod Chopra's propulsive 'Eklavya: The Royal Guard' has epic sweep." - Los Angeles Times

"Maybe it's the trains. Maybe it's the camels. Maybe it's the intermission. No matter: Something about "Eklavya: The Royal Guard" suggests a lost film by David Lean." - Los Angeles Times

"...clearly has a heart for the classics" - New York Times

"A Shakespearean tragedy" - Variety Int'l

"Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a poet on celluloid" - The Times of India

"Eklavya unites the best of Bollywood past and present" - LA Weekly

"This is robust storytelling, with blood and thunder pumping through its veins, and real whiskers on its face." - LA Weekly

"Far from typical. Very strong and very Shakespearean" - The Sunday Telegraph, UK

"Polished and energetic" - The Sunday Times, UK

"It's strikingly shot, elegantly plotted Shakespearean drama of palace intrigue and revenge." - The Independent, UK

"robustly unassuming and entertaining" - The Guardian, UK

"... Gives any House of Flying Daggers set piece a run for its money." - Metro, UK

"Film-maker Vidhu Vinod Chopra's mature, confident pacing, gifted eye for composition and impressive talent for choreography raises the bar" - Metro, UK "Engaging Indian drama" - The Daily Telegraph, UK

"Put your hands together for one of the finest films to come out of the Hindi film industry!" - indiafm.com

"Masterpiece" - Rediff.com

"A Must-Watch" - Rediff.com, USA

"Eklavya is visually stunning. The performances are even more impressive. But the theme itself is the star." - Bombay Times, Times of India

"Eklavya indeed marks the revival of Indian cinema" - Business of Cinema

"Eklavya - The Royal Treat" - Glamsham.com

"The aesthetics - exemplary; the almost song-less grand illusion - world class." - Mumbai Mirror

"Brilliantly written scenes lift the script and enthrall your senses" - Mid-Day
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5/10
Like a Auto-rickshaw with the front wheel punctured..
kooleshwar7 March 2007
Vidhu Vinod Chopra has seemed to me in recent times to be a better film-marketer/producer than a film-maker, thanks to his marketing genius none of his recent films have ever received a low rating. Also he has a great eye for untapped potential (backing the likes of Saif , Nana Patekar, Vidya Balan when they were around but never stars and Sanjay Dutt who was giving one flop after the other till Munnabhai came along).

His weakest movies are the ones which involve stars at the top (mission Kashmir, 1942 ) and Eklavya suffers from the same fate.

Now if we consider this movie like an Auto-rickshaw (for the uninitiated it has 3 wheels) then ...

THE REAR WHEEL.

The first thing that struck me and everyone else too was the fabulous cinematography, its easily one of the most visually pleasing movies to come out in recent times, but is the effort really that good Rajasthan is one (if not the) of the most beautiful places in India, anyone who has visited will tell you that its any camera lovers nightmare as you can easily polish of a reel or 2 in a day even ordinary photographs of the palaces look spectacular, in any case this movie is my candidate for cinematography next year.

Technically in all aspects to this movie is extremely sound with great sound, computer graphics, etc.

The editing is slightly patchy but I don't think that has anything to do with the editor.

So on the all important Technical Aspects this film is near perfect and like brand new, perfectly balanced wheel and tyre.

THE OTHER REAR WHEEL.

The acting in this movie is superb all around, there were a couple of scenes that were over-acted, but other that everyone including Boman, Amitabh, Saif were great.

Special mention to Jackie who despite being a mighty fine actor and looker has been reduced to character roles, I really wish he goes back to playing a more central character in films.

A wheels go this one is like the most expensive alloy wheel with run-flat tyres even.

THE FRONT WHEEL.

Anyone who experienced punctures in a four wheeler will tell you that a puncture in any of the front tyres will immediately affect your car while a car may go on four kilometers with a rear flat.

If a movie is to be compared to an auto-rickshaw this spot will definitely go to the script.

And this tyre (script) has not deflated but burst.

The characters are so badly written that in the end you have nothing but contempt for all of them, you actually end up feeling bad for the so called bad guys,THIS MOVIE IS LIKE A SLAP IN THE FACE OF THE CONCEPT BEHIND ADOPTION.

There is so little content in the film that even the extremely short film (by Indian standards) of 105 minutes seems like running forever, to add to it there are a number of over the top scenes (no fault of the actors), including the choking scene (at first I thought I had the dirty mind), and the Sholay scene.

Picking out faults in the script and the plot will take days, even if you are able to digest AMITABH BACHANS SUPERHUMAN POWERS.

THE RESULT Is exactly like what it would be if one the tyres of your rickshaw were to burst and had no other option but to ride it out till the end of your journey.

Your trip would be a slow excruciating one once the tyre burst and would involve frequent veering of the course.

You sat in a mighty fine rickshaw that looked superb (thanks to the cast), was famous (thanks to the Bentleys given as gifts), had a great engine (some of the names besides vidhu in the film crew have great talent), had great wheels, BUT HAD BAD MUSIC.

But halfway through the ride you realise that your tyre has burst you have no spare and you have no option but to continue on the slow bumpy ride, the only consolation being that the ride is not long as you expect.

Only recommended if you are a big fan of amitabh, bored, and willing to watch a movie that has lots of glitz and glam but no substance.

Watching the matinée on screen is recommended to enjoy the visuals,a large screen TV (on DVD) will just about do but cable is a no-no.

I for one would not encourage that we fall pray to such gimmicks and encourage more ordinary films in India.

+s FINALLY AN ORIGINAL FILM +1 FOR THAT ONLY, SUPERB ACTING, SUPERB TECHNICALLY,short length.

+/-s only one or 2 songs, hardly any romance.

-s EXTREMELY WEAK SCRIPT AND RELATED ASPECTS (plot holes, super amitabh, predictable, some over the top scenes etc etc).

total 5/10 (includes one for originality 2 each for acting and technical aspects didn't minus marks because after an hour i knew i was screwed but had enjoyed the movie till then plus this movie has many scenes that looked great and even though they were low on content managed to hold your attention)
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Definitely different film from Bollywood
gangadhar panday18 February 2007
Eklavya is a film with simple Royal story set in modern times. The film forces the audience into a state of mind that is always kept alert in an attempt to figure out who is related to whom in which way and how something has occurred that is said to have happened and the possibility of the event to take place. Intelligent use of sound and light, not just in the plot itself, but also in the making of the film take the Indian standards of film-making to new heights. Riveting performances by the actors, interplay of light and shadow & silence and sound, pleasant visual treats, slick editing, apt and authentic costumes, a gripping storyline with the right dose of suspense elements make Eklavya, the Royal Guard a must watch film which is destined to corner awards and critical acclaim. Wait and see for the film's Box Office success.
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Crisp......almost perfect
sesht18 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
From the director of 'Parinda', Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Based on a legend that is often considered a secondary tale to the grand Indian epic, 'The Mahabharata', or, in modern parlance, something I happen to agree with, a spin-off, of sorts, observing a character who could have played a major role in the epic itself, but was cut off, or not allowed in doing so, by the most revered person in society, even now - a teacher.

However, other than the name, this particular tale has nothing in common with the epic spin-off, which was more about betrayal, and killing talent (imho), while this one, is about, sacrifice, something that has been highlighted in too many stories, and movies, to keep count. And yes, once again, it has been glorified.

Nevertheless, it is in the telling of the tale, and drawing out effective performances, and constructing a few individual scenes, that this particular narrative succeeds. And the ensemble helps, big- time.

Amitabh Bachchan.

Saif Ali Khan.

Both have been given enough material to showcase their respective talents, and they utilize the opportunity to the fullest extent possible. Watching them act, interact, is simply Magnificent.

Sanjay Dutt - underused, and amazing at the same time. Like he's been in most movies where he's starred alongside the big B. Kaante, always comes to mind.

Vidya Balan - underseen, and underused, though vital to the main plot. This was before she broke out, even though she did have the success of 'Parineeta', her debut, behind her. Parikshit Sahani - criminally underused in most of his movies, and yet, like he always does, rising to the occasion in this one, holding his own, like he's always done, opposite the big B, no mean feat that.

The abruptness of the ending kind of takes away from most of the great ensemble scenes that play out before, including the twist of sorts (not really a twist in m opinion, but handled decently, almost expertly, in spite of the fact that the makers seem to think they have a bombshell, while, in reality, it does not pack as much a punch as they seemed to think it did, though, to be fair, it does not fizzle out).

The scenes between Raima Sen and Saif Ali Khan are of a quality rarely seen in Hindi cinema, and it is a testament to the talent on display that I strongly feel (not just from Sen;s work here, but also in flicks like 'Honeymoon travels') that she has not yet received her due.

Jackie Shroff, Jimmy Sheirgill and Boman Irani are fantastic, but once again, I strongly feel that they all could have done better with more scenes, more lines and better characterization, to their credit. Having said that, they literally come alive on the silver screen playing out what they've been given. Each and every scene they're in, quivers with amazing, resounding power.

While I absolutely love the movie, and its 3rd act revelations, I strongly feel that the entire exercise is 1 wasted opportunity, for, with the talent assembled both behind and in-front-of the scenes, this could have been nothing short of an epic tale, almost with more than enough power to be comparable with the original Mahabharata.

Pity.

In spite of that, worth watching, even more than once. On the big screen, though unless it plays festivals or midnight showings, there's no chance nowadays. At the time it released, I felt this did not get much of a push from its distributors, or its marketing team, in spite of being made by a mainstream producer (Eros, I think). More's the pity.
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6/10
what has this to do with Ekalavya of Mahabharat-SPOILER
venkat19269 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
excellent acting by Amitab Bachan Saif Ali Khan and cameo role by Raima Sen. Vidya balan is wasted. the cutting and editing is very good. But the story is nothing to do with Ekalavya except for some mambo jumbo of Dharma. The foreign audience cannot even understand the Puranic concept of Dharma. I saw somewhere "dalit history". where is the history of dalits come here. I do not think any queen would have allowed a Dalit to impregnate daughter in law. This is unrealistic even though politically correct. Besides in a feudal society a Dalit would not have become a Royal guard. This is not Dalit History in a feudal ambiance.

At the same time the story is interesting and the final twist is somewhat reasonable though little melodramatic.
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5/10
Vinod Chopra's biggest film disappoints bigtime
manish21 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
At the television telecast of 1989 Filmfare Awards recording(which we saw on Doordarshan in December 1990,when our schools were closed during Ramjanambhoomi issue) I saw a new face who got a lot of acclaim that night.The spectacled man was in the middle of acclaim cause his movie stood tall amongst the year blockbusters-Maine Pyaar Kiya,Ram Lakhan ,Tridev and criticically acclaimed Eeshwar.The film was Parinda and the man was its producer director-Vidhu Vinod Chopra.Parinda won many awards that night and Vinod Chopra became the critics favourite for his brilliant follow up to his earlier superb thriller Khamosh.Somehow I didn't take the acclaim to Parinda favourably as I thought that Amitabh Bachchan starrer Main Azaad Hoon deserved many awards except the one it got for Javed Akhtar for best dialogues.1989 was arguably one of the worst years for Amitabh Bachchan as an actor.He got 2 of his worst big budget flops in the form of Manmohan Desai produced Toofan and Prakash Mehra directed Jaadugar.After these colossal disasters Tinnu Anand's brilliant Main Azaad Hoon also could not hit the bull's eye at box office.However ,when it didn't won many awards also I was terribly disillusioned.At that time I thought that It would be a great casting in case Vinod Chopra makes a film with Big B in the lead. Almost 2 decades later in the form of Eklavya my 18 year old dream and Vinod Chopra's 30 year old dream of directing Amitabh Bachchan finally comes true but the film falls way short of expectations.

Eklavya(Amitabh Bachchan) is the royal guard of this small kingdom in Rajasthan.Although it is the modern era still the king Rana (Boman Irani) lives in a fort with his ailing wife the Maharani(Sharmila Tagore).The couple has a mentally challenged daughter(Raima Sen).The maharani writes letters to her son informing him about the her state.As fate would have it the queen dies and the Prince(Saif Ali Khan) returns from England to the kingdom.

The Rana is a wicked character and his wickedness is used suitably by his evil brother Jyoti Vardhan Singh(Jackie Shroff) and his son Yash Vardhan Singh(Jimmy Shergill).The trio hates Eklavya but Eklavya has a loyal follower in the form of DCP Chouhan(Sanjay Dutt).Prince is heart broken and seeks refuge in Eklavya,who is a fatherly figure to him.Prince falls in love with a village gal(Vidya Balan).Rana orders Jyoti and Yash to murder Eklavya but they in turn end up killing Rana.Eklavya is angered over this and vows vengeance.He kills both Jyoti and Yash and surrenders before Prince but DCP Chouhan saves Eklavya.The Prince marries the village gal and lives happily with Eklavya and his mentally challenged sister. The story of the film has some twists as well which I didn't want to mention as they would have been spoilers.The story of Eklavya is not an amazing story but then with a decent screenplay it would have been a tight script.This is where Eklavya falters badly.Vinod Chopra has openly said that he worked on the script for 5 long years.However after analyisng the flimsy screenplay we hope that Vinod doesn't take the same amount of time for his next film.Initially Vinod had titled the film Yagna. Vinod Chopra had plans of making Yagna several years ago in 1993 when he wanted Amitabh to come out of his self imposed exile.At that time the film was supposed to star Amitabh Bachchan and Nana Patekar.After some years I read that Nana Patekar was directing Yagna but soon the news died.However few years back Chopra eventually started his dream project with Big B in the lead and titled it Yagna.I am not sure if this Yagna was the same Yagna he wanted to make in 1993 but he shot the promo of Yagna and screened it 2 years ago alongwith the promo of MunnaBhai 2nd Innings in the theatres which showed his produced Parineeta.Eventually the name Munna Bhai 2nd Innings was changed to Lage Raho MunnaBhai and Yagna became Eklavya.The dialogues of the film are also plain ordinary and doesn't strike a chord.The editing could have been better.Eklavya must be shortest big budget saga.Its running time is just 1 hours 50 minues but unfortunately even then the editing and screenplay is not strong enough to hold one's attention for that duration.The first half literally drags but things improve towards the interval.the second half is better but the tame ending and the pale comparisons with the mythological Eklavya of Mahabharata reduces its effect. The music by Shantanu Moitra has only one song "Chanda Re" which is melodious.
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