Eklavya: The Royal Guard, 2007
Directed by: Vidhu Vindod Chopra
I've wanted to see this movie ever since my first-ever encounter with real Bollywood...I was young and impressionable and sitting in a crowded Desi theatre two blocks off of my college campus waiting for Salaam-e-Ishq when I saw the preview. Had I known that that encounter would be the beginning of the long road of Bollywoods to come I would have given the previews more thought, but I do remember Eklavya looking marginally interesting. If anything the lightness of "Chanda Re" playing under some man frantically screaming "EKLAAAAVYAA!" amidst a lush, beautiful set piqued my interest.
Three years later...I finally watched it!
I'm just going cut to the chase and say what everyone else says about this film: It's stinking gorgeous. Drop dead, drool-worthy sets, stunning cinematography, rich colors and to-die-for locations. The thought "Damn, VeeVee Chop can really make a pretty movie" kept cycling through my mind as I watched it.
And that...was my only substantial impression.
Don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy it but it just left me a little unsatisfied. The film is short (by Bollywood standards) and the ending left a funny taste in my mouth, since I disapprove of false evidence that allows for guilty people to go free and everything... Not that it really mattered, I guess, but it still was a little off...
I thought the story was very interesting. Full of twists and turns that, while a bit predictable, kept the plot moving. Because of the shortness of the film I don't think as many characters were as fleshed out as they could have been. I love a good back story, and Eklavya just gave you the bare minimum. It was enough for the film to make sense and progress, but not enough to satiate my hunger for details.
Having only seen Saif in Love Aaj Kal (ugh) I was impressed by his rawness, he was sort of like the Rhett Butler of Bollywood (well, not really...but ok, not at all...ish) in this film, and if anyone can get me all flustered, Rhett Butler can. Everything he did was so internal and contained that it was thrilling to watch. I kept waiting for him to explode in spontaneous emotional combustion but he never did. Exciting!
I adored the Vidya/Saif jodi. She finally matched someone! Please, please, please keep them together! She didn't out-pretty her man and she didn't look older than him either! And the scene where they are talking together and just holding hands and playing finger-footsie was just too much to handle. It was so real! Who hasn't done that? I adore when filmi couples act like real people and don't go running to the nearest Swiss mountain (though, admittedly, I do love that too).
I was super confused by the time period in this film. At first I thought it was going to be one of those "timeless" films, like Paheli or the weird Saawariya, but it's apparently set in contemporary Rajasthan. Whatever, it would have worked either way.
The music is subtle, used as incidentally and in more of a soundtrack sense. It fit the film perfectly that way... I couldn't imagine any large song and dance numbers in this film that would flow logically, the music is beautiful and ethereal, the kind of stuff I live for.
To the costumer I give all of my heart. What a spectacular job! All of the fabrics and outfits were just too good to be true.
Oh! And I can't forget the Sharmila cameo! She's just so wonderful, na? I think so.