I thoroughly enjoyed movie “Eklavya -the Royal guard” for a wide variety of reasons. In last six years I have resumed watching good Hindi films and regained my lost love . This has been even more true in last six months. I feel that “good-Hindi film” is no more an oxymoron. I would accept that I still have to make efforts to bypass few annoyances and work on my tolerance to enjoy the Indian films. Sometimes it is challenging ! Fortunately I did have to face any of these challenges in viewing this film. I found this film to be brilliant. It is worth watching. I am not sure if the Indian-origined second generation growing in US/West would enjoy as much as I could ! I believe, they too may find it at least entertaining. I felt gratified that I had extra background to appreciate and enjoy many fine poins and details of this film. There are many reasons why I liked the film so much. Story is different, some what classic and certainly very interesting one for me. Here are the ‘top ten’ reasons why I liked Eklavya more than others :
- I had been a “sucker” (sucker is a slang in American Lingo to describe one who is indiscriminately attracted to something ) in childhood of the great epic of MahABhAraT, the characters in the epic, specially the one that symbolizes eternal coexistense of the good and the evil, the intrinsic nature of unfairness and discrimination in the society and their dealing with it. The character of KarNa, Eklavya certainly occupy a glorious position in the galaxy of the personages of MahABhAraT.
- I enjoy modern metaphor of MahABhAraT specially with modern twists and specially modern interpretation. There was a similar film in ‘81 Kalyug ( a brilliant adaption and metaphor of MahABharat where Shashi Kapoor played role of KarNa ).
- I specially enjoy the movies about the changing times with the clash of two contemporary trends with their inherent conflicts and clash. When individuals fro two different ways of living meet and their worlds collide. "Dancing wih the wolves” and its Candian version “Blackrobe” were most classic films in this category. The backdrop of the royal family who had a major adjustment to deal with the loss of their great power in light of democracy with post colonial modern
. This case modernity and classicism, current-day India and its feudal past, land reforms and rebels against the establishment, contemporary corruption and blood traditions, compassion but the cast rooted contempt’s co-existing, history based docudrama .. These are all good ingradients for the recipe of an interesting movie for me. India
- I have also been fan of history and folktales of Rajasthan. The land of wars, fight against Muslim and Mogul invaders, stories of Zahuar, Kesaria and Sati, Sacrifice of Panna, Loyalty of Chetek, 23 royal kingdoms, colorful culture, dessert and Camel Safaris, the royal aristocracy all are in the backdrop of the movie glorifying the bygone era..
- I love to see the beautiful places on planet in the film, specially the places I have been. I was at Devigath palce (near
Udaipur)in Jan 2007, the places recently as well. Devigath palace looks even prettier in the film. (Though, Nayar loves Decigram palace, where the couple had thrown many pre-wedding parties, this time he opted for Jaipur as it was not possible to accommodate more than 100 guests there). Same way, I enjoyed the Umaidbhavan Palace Rioagain in Doom 2 and looking forward for Nishabad shot in Mannar, Kerala visited in Feb. 2006.
- Movie has some hallmarks of a Shakespearian tragedy. The movie stats with the famous Shakespearian Sonnet. Why this Sonnet is so popular in
( an item for another bog) ? India
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:”
7. All stars have done their role very well. I was already the fan of the stars of the crew from film Parineeta (and also Lage raho Munnabhai ).
8. Amitabh Bachman is a great actor and he thrives on this kind of role. From the early days of Zanzeer from the the roles of angry young man he has cemented his image. This is probably his best. He captures the conflicting spirit of a man burdened by old age but unfalteringly devoted to his cause
9. Heard that movies is made of only two hours, only one song and no dance ? Can you believe that ? That is pretty rare for Bollywood.
10. Very good photography and direction. The movie was very symbolic and that was the nicest thing about it. little things like dark clouds appearing above the fort, showing bad times are coming.
The symbolic part, specially about Dharma is most thought-provoking and fascinating part of the movie. Dharma associates with one’s duties rather than religion. Eklavya has bound by his Dharma, his duty to protect the King, no matter what ! That has been his mission life long. His ancestors has been doing that since several generations, . However his deep is belief and devotion, they both are s challenged.
Movie articulately uses the definition of Dharma mentioned at the beginning to connect this "archaic premise" to modern school of thought. As an audience I got this revelation in the last few scenes of the movie. Had it stayed on course with this ancient doctrine. The movie tries to debunk the belief that Dharma is all about following the path of righteousness as defined by tradition; rather, The movie endorses the view from the ancient scriptures that righteousness is not an absolute concept but has to be rooted in reason - Dharma Mitabhya Utghrita. I have been trying to find the annotation about it . Could not locate at the online sources.
The film suggested dharma is no longer about following the path of righteousness as defined by tradition if it results in awful acts. The concusion was that dharma should be rooted in reason - Dharma Mitabhya Utghrita
What is the ‘dharma’ of a person? Is it to follow the laws of society? Is it to follow the guidelines given in our religious or school text books? Is it to follow the path shown by our elders/ancestors? OR, it is to follow our own intellect and conscience? There is no single answer of this question. Different people may (and off course) go different ways in the same circumstances. Eklavya in the movie , contrary to the Eklavya in MahAbhAraT chooses the last option which tells to follow our own conscience.
This is a wise and revealing direction but also a dangeorous one as it makes one vulnerable to interpret religion and duties per his/her convenience !