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Genre: Action, Bollywood, Drama, History
Director: Chandra Prakash Dwivedi
Actors: Akshay Kumar, Ashutosh Rana, Manav Vij, Manushi Chhillar, Sakshi Tanwar, Sanjay Dutt, Sonu Sood
Duration: 135 min
Samrat Prithviraj Story: Based on Prithviraj Raso, the film tells the story of King Prithviraj Chauhan who gave it his all when he clashed with Muhammad Ghori to protect his pride and soil from foreign invasion and captivity
Samrat Prithviraj Review: The best part about narrating a story in an engaging manner is to set its tone from the word go. And what better than a dramatic action sequence for a story that puts the spotlight on a righteous warrior king, Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) and his fight to protect his pride, people and soil from slipping into Muhammad Ghori of Ghazni’s (Manav Vij) hands. Post that, the narrative takes you into the king’s journey as a human being, and what led him to really take on Ghori in the battlefield.
The action pieces in the film are choreographed and shot well, but given that the film centres on a war that had an impact on our history, you’d probably expect more war-time in this drama. The dialogues, while they give the narrative a dramatic impact, at times, suffer from a tad bit of inconsistency. As a director and the writer of this film, Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi does a fine job in keeping the narrative clean and focussed, without many digressions.
However, post-interval, the focus dwindles a bit in the woman-power sub-plot more than it needed to. It momentarily takes away from the primary story of the film. Also, none of the characters have been given a particular leheza or an accent to speak in, which is good and bad in parts. Good because it’s easier to follow for the mass audience, and bad, because it doesn’t sound as authentic as it could have.
Samrat Prithviraj, despite its scale of canvas, doesn’t become overly opulent - something we are accustomed to watching in our films from the same genre over the years. The production design and costumes work in tandem with that. Even though the subject in hand is complex and layered, it’s been fairly simplified for the audience to understand and engage with.
None of the songs in the album (composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy) really stay with you. The title track, which plays out in the film a few times, gets a tad jarring. The honeymoon-song sequence and the last song-and-dance sequence, if done away with, would have probably given more space and time to war, action and dramatic scenes. There are several visually-striking scenes but the VFX could have been used more skillfully.
In terms of performance, Akshay Kumar’s effort to dive deep into this historic character is visible. He carries the tremendous weight of a king on his shoulders with dignity and poise. Sonu Sood and Sanjay Dutt, as Chand Vardai and Kaka Kanha, respectively, add a lot of weight to the narrative as the drama unfolds. Sanjay, in fact, breaks the serious tonality of the film at various points with humour. Sonu’s character as the king’s die-hard loyalist is the one with a lot of ‘thehrav’ and maturity, which stands out. Manushi Chhillar, who won the Miss World pageant in 2017, makes a confident and fine debut in this film. In a film that revolves around a warrior king and the battlefield dynamics of that era, she holds her own and delivers a performance that presents her as a complete package.
On the other hand, senior artistes like Manoj Joshi, Ashutosh Rana and Sakshi Tanwar have been fairly underutilised in extremely small roles. It would have helped the narrative a lot if one had a chance to see a little more drama featuring these actors along with the central characters of the story.
Overall, Samrat Prithviraj is a well-performed and well-directed family drama. It doesn’t have the opulence that we have seen in other historial dramas, but there is enough to keep you invested and also take you back into the pages of our glorious history.