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'Eklavaya' puts spotlight on princely state
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's much-publicised multi-starrer "Eklavya - The Royal Guard", releasing Friday, marks his return as a director after seven long years.
Starring the legendary Amitabh Bachchan in the title role, "Eklavya" is set in historically rich Rajasthan and was extensively shot in Devigarh and Jaipur.
It seems Bollywood is drawn towards the land of sand dunes in a big way. J.P. Dutta's "Umrao Jaan" was also shot in the same state, which provided a perfect ambience with its architectural splendour and cultural heritage.
Currently Ashutosh Gowariker and Goldie Behl are stationed there with the cast and crew of their films - "Jodha-Akbar" and "Drona", respectively.
The story goes like this:
Eklavya (Amitabh) is a royal guard and his ultimate aim is to protect the Devigarh dynasty and family secrets because for nine generations his family has been doing so.
Eklavya too carries forward the family tradition and spends his entire life serving the erstwhile royals and closely guarding their secrets. But slowly he begins to worry because of his age and weakening eyesight.
Prince Harshwardhan (Saif Ali Khan), who is the heir to the throne, stays in London because he can't cope up with the rigid customs of his land. But the sudden demise of queen Suhasinidevi (Sharmila Tagore) forces him to return.
Harshwardhan brings life and joy into the moribund fort. His mentally challenged twin sister, princess Nandini (Raima Sen) and childhood friend Rajjo (Vidya Balan) are more than happy to have him in the fort.
But the joy is short-lived as there is unrest due to the atrocities carried out on peasants in the name of king Rana Jaywardhan (Boman Irani). The king, however, is just a titular head and it his scheming brother Rana Jyotiwardhan (Jackie Shroff), who is calling the shots.
Amidst all this turbulence, the king receives a death threat and he immediately informs police. Pannalal Chohar (Sanjay Dutt), who doesn't have a good reputation, is asked to investigate the matter.
Then a rebellion breaks out, destroying the peaceful atmosphere and unveiling the safely guarded secrets of the fort. What follows is an edge-of-the-seat action thriller.
While Chopra produced super-hit movies like "Parineeta", "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." and "Lage Raho Munnabhai", he has gone behind the camera for the first time after "Mission Kashmir" in 2000.
All eyes are now set on "Eklavya" and Chopra is leaving no stones unturned to hit the bull's eye.