March 31, 2023

reviewer’s note:


Prithviraj (Akshay Kumar), the ruler of Ajmer and Sanyogita (Manushi Chhillar), the daughter of the ruler of Kannauj, Jayachandra (Ashutosh Rana), have never seen each other and only heard of beauty and valor the other. They exchange letters, however – it is not shown how – on a regular basis and fall in love. Pritiviraj gives sanctuary to the brother of Muhammed Ghori (Manav Vij), a ruler of the Ghurid dynasty – present day Afghanistan. Ghori then invades India in retaliation and is defeated by Prithviraj. The ruler of Delhi, a distant relative, abdicates in favor of Prithviraj, making him ruler of much of India. Jayachandra is against this and plots her revenge. Later, Sangyogita flees with Prithviraj, making the enmity even more bitter. Ghori invades again and wins this time by treachery. Prithviraj is captured and brought to Ghajini. But he still has another feather in his quiver…

Samrat Prithiviraj is based on the epic poem Prithviraj Raso written by Chand Bardai. It juxtaposes fact and fiction to give us a visual spectacle of bravery, war and honor. At the end, Prithviraj’s death is said to have ended the rule of Hindu kings and plunged India into 755 years of oppression by foreigners. In another case, he points out that the temple of Somnath was razed by Mahmud of Ghazni. These are political statements in keeping with the turbulent times in which we live. To balance this, perhaps, the film also advocates for women’s equality. Sanyogita questions the sanctity of swayamwar, when it is clear that women have no rights and are pressured by the family to choose according to their wishes. Later, Prithviraj is shown giving Sanyogita an equal place as a ruler, advocating for having women as leaders.

The film is an ode to the honor and valor of Prithviraj in particular and Rajputs in general. His heroic qualities are presented in all their glory. He has been shown to be on par with Arjun on the battlefield, is as righteous as Ram while delivering justice, and is even shown crucified like Christ at the end of the film. Truth, honor and commitment are the key words by which he lives and dies. Luckily for Director Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Akshay Kumar suits the role of a T. Not only does he look physically imposing as a Rajput warrior king, but his eyes, body language drip with sincerity towards the ancient belief of Rajdharma . Looking at him, one can believe that once upon a time there were men who believed in the purity of their faith and were willing to sacrifice themselves for duty. His actions are calm and collected and never overdone. Even on the battlefield, you feel like you’re watching someone who’s spent hours training. The age gap in his scenes with Manushi Chhillar does not pass. The film adds another feather to Akshay’s already stuffed hat.

The former Miss World also made a confident debut. Manushi looks every square inch like a Rajput princess. She is pretty as a picture and can act too. She’s not only there to increase the punch quotient, but she can also make some points in favor of female empowerment. It’s a good start for the newcomer, and good things can be expected from her in the future. Sonu Sood has almost as big a role as Akshay and plays a court poet who is also a warrior. He looks good while playing the valiant king’s friend, philosopher, and guide. Sanjay Dutt plays Kaka Kanha, Prithviraj’s uncle. Sanjay’s larger than life personality makes him an instant fixture in historical epics. He would have played the lead role had the film been made 20 years ago, and here shows that age hasn’t dulled his ferocity. Manav Vij is oddly muted, downplaying Muhammed Ghori’s role, and thankfully doesn’t get any jingoist lines.

Producer Yash Raj spared no expense when it came to the film’s visual greatness. The Colosseum-like location where the film begins and ends feels real, as do the various palaces and havelis. The war scenes are also grandiose. Whether it’s production design, costumes, cinematography or editing, it all adds up to the film. At nearly 140 minutes, it’s just the right length and keeps your attention anchored on the screen.

Watch the film for its combination of myth and history. It’s a tender attempt to recreate a time when everything was fair and honorable, while showing that it was our own disunity that allowed the invaders to intervene. A lesson to be learned, perhaps…

Trailer: Samrat Prithviraj

Rachana Dubey, June 3, 2022, 4:35 PM IST

reviewer’s note:


History of Samrat Prithviraj: Based on Prithviraj Raso, the film tells the story of King Prithviraj Chauhan who gave his all when he clashed with Muhammad Ghori to protect his pride and soil from foreign invasion and captivity.

Review by Samrat Prithviraj: The best part of telling a story in an engaging way is setting the tone from the start. And what better than a dramatic action sequence for a story that highlights a righteous warrior king, Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) and his fight to protect his pride, his people and his soil from creeping into Muhammad Ghori of Ghazni (Manav Vij) hands. After that, the story takes you on the King’s journey as a human being and what led him to truly face Ghori on the battlefield.
The film’s action pieces are choreographed and well-shot, but given that the film centers on a war that impacted our history, you’d probably expect more wartime in this drama. The dialogues, if they give the story a dramatic impact, sometimes suffer from a little incoherence. As the director and screenwriter of this film, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi does a great job of keeping the narrative clean and focused without too many digressions.

However, after the interval, the focus wanes a little more than necessary in the female power subplot. This temporarily takes away from the main story of the film. Also, none of the characters were given a particular leheza or speaking accent, which is good and bad in places. Good because it’s easier for the general public to follow, and bad because it doesn’t sound as authentic as it could have.

Samrat Prithviraj, despite its canvas scale, doesn’t get too opulent – something we’re used to seeing in our films of the same genre over the years. The production design and costumes work in tandem with that. Even though the subject matter at hand is complex and layered, it has been simplified enough for the audience to understand and engage with.

None of the songs on the album (composed by Shankar Ehsaan Loy) really stick with you. The title track, which plays several times in the movie, gets a little shocking. The honeymoon sequence and the final song and dance sequence, had they been removed, would likely have given more space and time to the war, action, and drama scenes. There are several visually striking scenes, but the VFX could have been used more skillfully.

Performance-wise, Akshay Kumar’s effort to dive deep into this historical figure is visible. He carries the enormous weight of a king on his shoulders with dignity and assurance. Sonu Sood and Sanjay Dutt as Chand Vardai and Kaka Kanha, respectively, add a lot of weight to the narrative as the drama unfolds. Sanjay, in fact, breaks the serious tone of the film at various moments with humor. Sonu’s character as the king’s stalwart loyalist is one with a lot of “thehrav” and maturity, which stands out. Manushi Chhillar, who won the Miss World pageant in 2017, makes a confident and polished debut in this film. In a film that revolves around a warrior king and the battlefield dynamics of that era, she holds her ground and delivers a performance that presents her as a complete package.

On the other hand, senior artists like Manoj Joshi, Ashutosh Rana and Sakshi Tanwar have been quite underutilized in extremely small roles. It would have helped the narrative a lot if we had been lucky enough to see a little more drama starring these actors with the central characters of the story.

Overall, Samrat Prithviraj is a well-acted and well-directed family drama. It doesn’t have the opulence we’ve seen in other historical dramas, but there’s enough to keep you invested and transport you back to the pages of our glorious history.

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