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Song of the Day # 850

From: bb on: Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:42 am  

Song of the Day: Chanda re from Eklavya (Hindi).

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- Eklavya is a new movie by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt and others.

- I saw the movie last weekend. The film is very well made, with excellent cinematography and crisp editing. It has the look and feel of a period piece, though it is set in a "kingdom" in modern times. Some of the shots were amazing, especially the aerial shots that show the Rajastani palace in full view.

The film runs only for less than a couple of hours, and still feels slow. The story is barely enough for a short film (like Satyajit Ray's Kapurush) and try hard as he could, Vidhu Vinod Chopra is not able to make it into a screenplay enough for a full-length feature. The story rides on one poser: What is Dharma, and how far would one go to follow his dharma? As soon as the question is posed, and is resolved (with a whimper, not a bang), the film loses steam quickly.

The story revolves around the moral dilemma that Amitabh Bachchan faces, as Eklavya, the chief guard of a King (Bomen Irani). Amitabh plays a loyal servant and has probably delivered his best role of his career. He brings his age and experience to the table, and portrays the world-weary character who is going blind. In most of the close-up shots, his eyes are moist blood-shot red. Luckily, he does not have any flashbacks that show him in a different garb.

The other main character is essayed by Saif Ali Khan. He plays the Prince, not unlike Hamlet, who comes back to the palace on his mother's death and is engulfed by old family secrets. That character had a lot of potential to be explored, but sadly, Vidhu Vinod Chopra does mere lip service and barely scratches the surface of that role. Others in the film are two-dimensional, set up to just move the story along. I guess the director has played it very safe by casting big names in these insignificant roles, to make up for the lack of story. Vidya Balan, Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Shergill all come and go in a couple of scenes. Sanjay Dutt has a neat cameo, providing comic relief. Bomen Irani continues to impress me. Is there any role that he can't do well? In all the recent movies that I've seen him in (Khosla ka Ghosla, Don, Lage Raho Munnabhai) he steals the scenes that he is in.

Why was the film named Eklavya and the reference to the story of Eklavya from Mahabharat (as narrated by Amitabh in the beginning of the movie)? Surely, the concept of a person doing something to keep up his dharma is a fairly easily illustrated concept, and Eklavya doesn't really do anything special as opposed to other similar incidents in our mythology. The reference from the movie is fairly oblique and it doesn't need the myth of Eklavya to illustrate anything. A story from Yudhishtra or even a story of Abraham would have worked fine. My guess is that the screenplay reflected more of Eklavya initially and got changed in subsequent drafts.

- This is the only song in the film, sung by Hamsika Iyer. Shantanu Moitra, who also scored for Parineeta, has done an excellent job in the background score as well.

- Hamsika Iyer seems to be a new singer, couldn't find any information on her. Does anyone know more?

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