Samrat Prithviraj, the new YRF film with Akshay Kumar as the title character, feels like a script that depended way too much on the film’s visual grandeur yet never took an effort to achieve it. Written and directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi, this historical drama is lousy in terms of craft and problematic in terms of politics.
The story is about Prithviraj Chauhan. He ruled Ajmer and subsequently became the Samrat of Delhi. Muhammed Ghori of the Ghurid dynasty once challenged him to war, and Ghori lost that war. How Prithviraj’s love story leads to his own downfall because multiple people, including Ghori, plotted against him is what we witness in Samrat Prithviraj.
The problem I felt with the movie was its choice of conflict. Even though the film is titled Samrat Prithviraj, the movie’s emphasis is mainly on the romantic equation between him and his wife, Sanyogita. The cringe I felt listening to certain dialogues made me realize how brilliant Sanjay Leela Bhansali is in handling epics like these. Almost every sequence in Samrat Prithviraj feels like a chopped-off take from a Bhansali movie. The emphasis on representing India as a Hindu nation is evidently visible in the film, and it’s not even subtle.
The story’s authenticity is not much of a concern for Chandraprakash Dwivedi. The movie is based on Prithviraj Raso by Chand Bardai, which is considered the least accurate and highly fictional account of Prithviraj Chauhan’s life. Well, one can’t really blame the filmmaker for opting for that as the source material since it is full of dramatic stuff. But the presentation of Dwivedi is unimaginative and bland. His screenplay has no patience in establishing characters and character equations. A lot of time is spent lecturing about gender equality in the most uncreative way possible. The war sequences just don’t have any life in them, and the lack of originality and passion is clearly visible in what they have created. The music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy showed some energy.
Akshay Kumar’s dialogue delivery in certain sequences, especially his conversations with his wife, played by Manushi Chhillar, felt really odd. The grace one expects in uttering those dramatic lines was occasionally missing. Manushi Chhillar as Sanyogita looks pretty. But there are areas in the movie where Sanyogita is supposed to silence everyone with her uncompromising attitude. But the debutante lacked that scene-owning aura. Sonu Sood was convincing as Chand Bardai. Sanjay Dutt as Kaka Kanha delivers a typical dramatic portrayal. Manav Vij gets a prominent role as the antagonist, but the scope to perform was very minimal.
The lesson one can learn from Samrat Prithviraj is that narrating historical dramas by finding a proper conflict and building a screenplay around that is a highly tricky thing. Having war set-pieces, songs, and dramatic dialogues in your movie is not enough to engage the audience. Samrat Prithviraj has a very broad-stroke narrative that just doesn’t want to explore the emotional graph of the story. I won’t blame the viewer if they doze off while watching this film.
Samrat Prithviraj has a very broad-stroke narrative that just doesn't want to explore the emotional graph of the story.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended