Written and directed by Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Samrat Prithviraj gives us an account of the warrior king Prithviraj Chauhan. The film is based on the epic poem composed by Chand Bardai (Prithviraj‘s court poet).
As per historians, this text itself contains a mixture of historical facts and imaginary legends and is not considered historically reliable. Since the film is based on such a ballad, it’s quite obvious that creative liberties have been taken. Like every other film, this one also starts with a disclaimer that says as much and how it doesn’t intend to hurt anyone’s feelings. Also, no animals have been hurt in its making and the ones we see are computer generated.
As for the climax even historians have not arrived at any definitive conclusion, but of all the various versions that exist the one we see on screen we have never heard or studied .
The unwavering nature of commitment to showcase how no one was a match to the great king Prithviraj Chauhan ends up being the film's main focus . He is brave and fair, kind and committed, dharmic and divine, a loving husband who bats for equality and a mighty warrior, an archer par excellence, forgiving and fierce - all at the same time.
If we can look beyond the fact that as, per historical accounts the real Samrat didn't live for more than 25- 26 years of age , a 54-year-old Akshay Kumar playing the part may seem earnest and too eager to please.
Since no one can quite take the Samrat on, the ones who do do so only by treachery and deceit . Prithviraj is ours, and the cruel invader is Mohd Ghori - the grunting , growling sultan whose main intention is to kill the king.
Manav Vij is left to fend for himself a he shuttles between trying to be ferocious and yet not quite so much that Prithviraj can be eclipsed . The result is shabby body language and a slight slouch, where poor Manav must take on the king and yet never appear like he ever has a chance . That’s when we miss SS Rajamouli or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s flair for the epic and the fluidity with which they can bring alive colour and form on screen.
Where the visual aesthetic is enough to hypnotise us so we can look beyond inaccuracies in account and story, and simply allow ourselves to be mesmerised by the proceedings. That never happens . The swayamvar scene which comes closest to the promise of being engaging employs such melodramatic dialogues and fractured Hindi TV serial-like jerky editing that we find it difficult to recover.
Samyukta, the Princess who falls in love with Prithviraj‘s tales of valour even before meeting him, is played by former Miss World Manushi Chhillar. She may be a statuesque beauty, but her face remains astonishingly expressionless even as she delivers long Hindi dialogues about women and their empowerment. These additions seem so self conscious that they almost derail the narrative.
Actors like Sonu Sood and Ashutosh Rana are used sparingly, and Sanjay Dutt is probably the only one who somehow manages to make the character his own. The battle scenes are so laboriously choreographed and the CGI-generated animals appear so convincingly unreal that Samrat Prithviraj ends up being rather below average. A tedious watch.
Our rating 1.5 Quints out of 5