Movie: Samrat Prithviraj

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manushi Chhillar, Sonu Sood, Sanjay Dutt, Manav Vij

Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi

Rating: 2.5 / 5

The historical genre in Hindi film industry has always been about romance with a bit of action and drama, except for Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, which was more of an action thriller. The latest to join the long list is Chandraprakash Dwivedi directed Samrat Prithviraj. The Yash Raj Production, fronted by Akshay Kumar, Manushi Chhillar, Sonu Sood, Sanjay Dutt and Manav Vij, has some moments worth the cheer, but they are far and few in between.

A film based on the great life of Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan needed a screenplay that celebrated his journey, pride and valor, but the filmmaker choses to go the subtle way with little heroics added to the brave king of India portrayed by Akshay Kumar. Instead of introducing the audience to the characters, the film fast forwards from one sequence to the other in the first half, without focusing much on drama and build up. The film starts off well with a fight sequence between Samrat Prithviraj and a lion, but the narrative dips post that only to pick up during the interval point. The war sequence too doesn’t have the kind of build up that we have seen in several period films before.

As the film proceeds to the second half, Dwivedi tries to create the drama using romantic tracks of Samrat Prithviraj and Sanyogita, but again, the core conflict in the film isn’t effectively presented. It’s only towards the last 20 minutes when Samrat Prithviraj leaves a mark, as the entire climax sequence is well conceptualized, with the much-needed thrill in the story telling pattern. Minus the initial 10 minutes, the interval block and the finale, the writing of Samrat Prithviraj is flat. The war sequence showcased in the trailer too isn’t something we haven’t seen on the spectacle before. The Jauhar sequence is done well, but it’s a deja-vu of what we have seen in Padmavaat.

The impact of all the drama and conflict in Samrat Prithviraj would have been a lot better had the director focused on establishing the protagonist and antagonist in a better way. The fire is missing in the conflict and hence, the impact of action and drama is diluted. The film warranted better characterization for the negative character of Muhammad Ghori. Talking of technical aspects, the background score is effective, but the music isn’t up to the mark. While most period films have hummable music, this one doesn’t boast of a single song that stands out. The visual effects are fine, but special credit to the set designer, who brings in grandeur to the cinematography. The dialogues are decent but could have been a lot better.

Akshay Kumar as Samrat Prithviraj is honest and follows the vision of his director to portray the Hindu Samrat. While he is asked to underplay in the shoes of legend Prithviraj, a larger than life and more heroic portrayal would have given the Khiladi a wider scope to perform. Manushi Chhillar makes a confident debut and has a promising screen presence too. She does well in the powerful Jauhar sequence too. Sonu Sood is decent as Chand Bardai, whereas Sanjay Dutt is rather wasted with an undercooked character of Kaka. Manav Vij is fair but doesn’t leave an impact due to a poorly written character. Ashutosh Rana and the rest of the ensemble cast is wasted.

Overall, Samrat Prithviraj is strictly an average affair, with a rather flat screenplay. The historical is primarily watchable due to three strong sequences – The opening act, the intermission block, and the finale. While the three key actors deliver an earnest performance and the director has mounted the film well, the narrative surely demanded a lot more drama, and at-least a war sequence in the second half. The brave Indian warrior deserved a better film.

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