Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film Samrat Prithviraj starring Akshay Kumar. I am a fan of history and everytime when a historical drama is recreated for the silver screen, I am always excited. Having watched historical magnum opuses like Padmaavat and Bajirao Mastani on the big screen, I was looking forward to adding Samrat Prithviraj to that list. But the film did get a lot of hate for the portrayal of the braveheart considering that 50 year old was essaying the role of a character who was 26 at the time of his death as also the technicalities which were pointed out by a section of the audience. Yes, its trailer was underwhelming but if at all I had learnt from my Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 experience was to not judge a film just on its trailer. So then does Samrat Prithviraj manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Samrat Prithviraj reaccounts the life of a young braveheart, Prithviraj Chauhan who is spoken highly of. The story though just lacks the bite and just doesn’t do justice to the Prithviraj The King Of Ajmer. The screenplay standing at just above 2 hours might give an impression that it is taut but really it is infact a slog in parts. It opens with the protagonist who is blinded fighting a bunch of VFX laden lions and triumphing over it. And that is when you know that you are in for some trouble. There are many sequences which are uneventful and almost written in a shabby manner. One look at Padmaavat and Bajirao Mastani and you know that those were better products as the audience was allowed time to settle into the drama and connect with the characters. Sadly here, the writers are in a mad rush, moving from one incident to another in the most haphazard manner.
The war sequences do seem grand with the way they have been shot. But, a closer look and you can easily catch on the VFX which is poor. The characters are just cardboard cut instead of flesh and blood and so you begin to lose interest. The nuanced storytelling is definitely missing here. While the intentions of gender equality are endearing, the execution is just so dry that it doesn’t hit home. Even certain sequences which were designed to give you a rousing feeling but doesn’t sit right due to the mad rush.
Another flaw and a huge one is the non-presence of an antagonist which is intimidating. It almost seemed like after being introduced early on, the writers just forgot about him only to remember him towards the end. And speaking of the end, while the finale sequence is decently engaging, it is historically inaccurate! Muhammed Ghori did live for more than a decade after Samrat Prithviraj was killed(atleast in the history text books which I had read in school). But here without letting out spoilers, the history is blurred out just to cater to a narrative which is so evident here. Not sure if the writers felt that the audience are a bunch of fools and they could get away with anything. Giving benefit of doubt, maybe the some section of the audience are dimwits but NOT all of them! Please don’t be mistaken. The screenplay is neither engaging nor does it remotely do justice to the Great Prithviraj Chauhan!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are good with some good lines thrown in every now and then. The music is good too although not memorable. The BGM is plain average. The cinematography is good particularly in war sequences. The VFX is a big letdown. The editing is all over the place and it impacts the film in a huge manner. Director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi is a veteran who usually knows his job well. But he is seriously found wanting here. It is one thing to have a story and another to have a vision. This is what sets makers like Bhansali and Rajamouli from the rest. For folks trolling RRR need to watch this film to understand the difference! This sort of a film demanded a bigger grandeur and vision. And so the films falls woefully short on that aspect. And the director also fails to keep things engaging.
The performances are decent here. Sakshi Tanwar is pretty good and holds her ground beautifully. Ashutosh Rana as Jayachandra is excellent and I really enjoyed his act. Manav Vij(who is usually pretty good) as Muhammed Ghori just doesn’t seem intimidating enough and this is one of his weaker performances. Sanjay Dutt as Kaka Kanha nails some of his one-liners but doesn’t really add much to his character(I still saw Sanjay Dutt in his character). Sonu Sood as Chand Bardai is absolutely first rate and he is exceptional here. Manushi Chillar as Sanyogita looks very pretty and has such expressive eyes. She does a pretty good job although I am not entirely convinced her choosing this to be her debut vehicle. Akshay Kumar as Samrat Prithviraj isn’t as bad as everyone is making him to be. He does show glimpses of being restrained and he definitely is good in combat sequences. But and my problem remains. He is over exposing himself. What that does is when you move from one film to another, you do not spend as much time preparing for your character. So your acting is restricted on many grounds. The fact that he admitted to be spending just 42 days for a historical saga really tells you a thing or two about the quality of the product and his performance.
Samrat Prithviraj is neither engaging nor historically accurate, just a haphazard drama which is half-heartedly assembled thereby not doing any justice to Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan. Available in a theatre near you.