Friday, May 11, 2007

Eklavya - a taut view of a revenge drama

I just sat through a morning show of Eklavya. A pretty interesting movie, pretty taut. And it had only one song, and that too a short song. The last movie based in Rajasthan that I watched was Paheli, which had too many song and dance sequences; in that respect, the time that I spent watching Eklavya was well spent.

Now I am an amateur student of cinema. What that means is that I have not done any kind of studies about the art of cinema, so if I get over-enthusiastic about some part of the movie, keep in mind that this is from an amateur mind. The movie is pretty short, it started at 11:58, and including a short break, ended at 1:45. Not more than 1 hour 45 minutes long.

Now about the movie itself. It is about the palace guard, who is responsible for the safety of the 'rana' (essentially the prince of old, and now in a democratic India, more of an important personality held in awe and respect by the surrounding people). This protection job has been in the family for nine generations, and they hold this job in great respect and tradition. The current holder of this position is 'Eklavya' (Amitabh Bachchan) who is getting old, and unable to see properly in strong light, but who has excellent hearing. He is dedicated to the whims and fancies of the rana (Boman Irani).
He is actually more devoted to the family than you would care to think, being responsible for fathering the heir to the line when the rana is unable to do his duty. The rana does not discover this until the queen is on her deathbed, at which point he gets incredibly jealous and angry.

It is at this time that the whole sequence starts to spin-up. The movie pulls in the son (Saif Ali Khan is considered the son of the rana and in reality of Eklavya), and the repressed and greedy brother and nephew of the rana (Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Shergill, respectively, in short roles).
There are a whole lot of conspiracies ongoing, finally resulting in the deaths of the rana and then his brother and nephew. Vidya Balan plays the role of Saif Ali Khan's love interest, but one gets the feeling that such roles are not going to do anything for her, since she really does not play a significant role.

The movie essentially revolves around the characters of Eklavya and Yash (Saif), but since the movie is so short, there just does not seem enough time for the characters to develop. For example, a bit more about Jackie Shroff in the movie would have been helpful, since that would have helped in depicting his character in more detail. In addition, Sanjay Dutt plays the role of a DSP (although I think in the scenario, an inspector role would have been better). The way his role is shown somehow does not depict a DSP. His role is essentially that of a person who made his way up from rags, and who does not forgive the rana for the way he and his ancestors have mis-treated the untouchables.

Aside from all this, I loved the cinematography. The shots were incredible, in fact, if for some of them, I could get still posters, I would love to have them and put them up on my wall. The scene with Amitabh showing off his knife throwing prowess was great, but it ended up feeling a bit stretched at the end. Again, the scene with the train and the camels and guns was good, but somehow, it did not have the proper tautness in the scene. That part just did not seem slick enough. But if the trend is towards making such a slick movie, then I am all for it.
Overall, a good movie, and I would certainly see it again (as my wife did, since she was watching it for a second time). Buying the DVD later may just happen.

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