Samrat Prithviraj

wogma rating: Switch channels if it's on cable (?)

quick review:

You get exactly what you expect. Over-dramatised in almost every frame. Provoking cynicism in each one. The mythical tone it is drenched in makes you laugh aloud in a story about valour.

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Running time: 135 minutes
Genres: Action, War
More Movie Info

Samrat Prithviraj opens with a long-drawn-out, excruciatingly slow-motioned, yawn-inducing sequence of Prithviraj Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) fighting lions. Even as you remind yourself that the story is inspired by a poem—so it doesn’t carry the responsibility of being true to history scene-by-scene—you can’t stop laughing as your mind runs to the scene from Mard, in which Amitabh Bachchan’s character is fighting crocodiles. You bring your racing mind back to the present—a blinded man in the middle of a dusty arena. You can tell that this will soon go to a flashback and are only hoping that the film will not end with you struggling with your mind in the same arena at the end of the film. Your prediction is correct. Your hope is futile. This is what you experience in almost every scene of the film—amusement over historical correctness or lack thereof-->mind pacing to something remotely relevant and fighting lions of restlessness and boredom-->optimism that the prediction you are making right now will not come true-->disappointment when it inevitably does-->repeat.

Why was Prithviraj Chauhan given such a lame Hindi film line like, “If you have fed on your mother’s milk…”?

There are two ways to look at Samrat Prithviraj, whether the film is historically accurate or not. If it happened for real, the sewing together of bits from the warrior’s life is abrupt. Also, his greatness is put on such a pedestal that it comes across as an agenda rather than sincere. The analogies with mythical characters in its songs and dialogue don’t help, giving it a fairy-tale feel rather than a genuine tribute. The lack of flow cutting from war to family drama to a king’s courtroom throws you off. This is a comment on the screenplay rather than the film’s editing.

Watching the film felt like the makers wanted to show us a trailer of the king’s life rather than his essence or what made him as great as he is made out to be. As you watch Prithviraj Chauhan advocate for his wife and other women’s rights, you can’t help but wonder if they really wanted to pay tribute to the man's greatness, would a 54-year-old Akshay Kumar be shown as married to a 25-year-old Manushi Chhillar? As he speaks of gender equality, you cannot respect the feminism on display before you find out how the film paid the men and women working on it.

Yes, the above holds true even if the film is inaccurate. Maybe even truer. Because, after a point, historical figures can only be held so much to today’s social norms. But, if today’s standards are attributed to those who lived 8 centuries ago, the least the cast and crew can be expected to do is hold up to those standards in real life. No?

Additionally, if it is inaccurate, then why the choice of over-the-top melodrama. It could have been over-the-top, or it could have been melodramatic. Why both? Each dialogue feels over-written. Sure, individual lines might have something important to say, but it is overbearing when each one is spoken with so much intensity and sounds so laboured. Especially with the background score blaring.

It is a wonder then that Sonu Sood and Manav Vij hold their own and do not give in to the cacophony around them. Their grounded presence stands out and might be just about what makes the film tolerable. Sure, the visuals are grand, but such a magnificent presentation is about average for a movie of this budget and stature. The one bit I really enjoyed was the juxtaposition of war scenes against dance sequences. Otherwise, it doesn’t really play around with colours as much and sticks to a dusty palate with shades of pink and orange thrown in.

Speaking of which, I would really like to know if orange/saffron indeed was the colour of his army’s flags and turbans. I would also like to know if not a single person wearing saffron other than Ghori’s brother got so much as a scratch in the first war. Were the war cries the same that we associate with Chatrapati Shivaji? Did they really hang him like Jesus Christ? Were his enemies really so enamoured by his fighting spirit? Didn’t he actually run away from one of the wars? While I am at it, when they say ‘Hindustan’ in a film set in the late-1100s, what do they mean?

Your prediction is correct. Your hope is futile.

Oh, oops, I am in the “if the film is not historically accurate” part of the review, aren’t I? Ok, then in the first scene, why didn’t Ghori (Manav Vij) kill Prithviraj Chauhan when he didn’t bow his head? Why the second chance? Why was Kaka Kan (Sanjay Dutt) tapping his heart when he said “hand”? Why was Prithviraj Chauhan given such a lame Hindi film line like, “If you have fed on your mother’s milk…”? Why do the makers think that not a single warrior in the Mahabharat had any hesitation while going to war? Why were most women grievers wearing matching green saris like it was the funeral uniform? Why did anybody second guess Ghori’s intentions when he clearly declared war? Why are we glamourising war?

This reminds me of a dinner conversation a few years ago. Someone at the table said, “We are too emotional and right-hearted. The rest of the world is selfish and cruel. They take advantage of our niceness.” It was a sweeping generalisation that had no basis in reality or even anecdotal relevance. Samrat Prithviraj came across as a story that stems from such a self-pitying victim-complex type of conversation. A holier-than-thou attitude that is so insecure that it needs reassurance from enemies. A film that doesn’t feel like its heart is necessarily all in the right place.

- meeta, a part of the audience

19 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 8 so-so 8 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch the film for its combination of myth and history. It’s fondly trying to recreate a time when everything was just and honourable, while also showing that it's our own disunity which allowed the invaders to step in. A lesson to be learnt, perhaps…... full review

Thumbs up, by Nitin Jain, : ...All in all, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, with great cast and impactful writing is a celebration of valour and a must watch... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachana Dubey, Times of India : ...Overall, Samrat Prithviraj is a well-performed and well-directed family drama. It doesn’t have the opulence that we have seen in other historial dramas, but there is enough to keep you invested and also take you back into the pages of our glorious history.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Maurya, Bollywood Life : ...So, is Prithviraj Chauhan worth the watch? Well, to be honest, you can try. There are some scenes which will stay with you even after leaving the theatres. Going with 2.5 stars out of 5 for Akshay Kumar's Samrat Prithviraj.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ..."Ek rajkumari ne ek rakumar ki veerta ki kahaaniya sun sun kar sapne bun liye thhe, ki ek din woh rajkumar aayega aur usse ghode pe le jayega," goes a dialogue in Samrat Prithviraj. While Akshay Kumar's warrior king does arrive in a grand way, he simply fails to transport you to a world that has a lot of blood rushing through its veins. Despite all the opulence, his historical film leaves you feeling underwhelmed.... full review

So-So, by Devasheesh Pandey, India TV : ...The movie's final act is impactful. The return of a former enemy raises the stakes and the climax battle builds beat by beat suspense eliciting some edge of the seat moments and gasp inducing thrills. The final scene is a fitting tribute to the bravery of Prithviraj Chauhan and will leave you teary eyed. As compared to the first half, the second half has a better balance of action and drama.... full review

So-So, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, A good period film has always comprised of two good parts – the first one, of course, being the mob-swarming wars & second are the sequences that led the rulers to the battlefield. Akshay Kumar’s Samrat Prithviraj fails in having the second part in its place which leaves quite a few things half-baked.... full review

So-So, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan's story is so big, so massive, but Dwivedi failed to understand the potential of his own writing when he was in that director's chair. This story could have been taken to such a level that even Baahubali would feel humiliated, but all it offers is strictly an average viewing experience. As a whole, team Samrat Prithviraj puts a lot of effort into filmmaking, but unfortunately at the wrong place. Watch it only to know the glorious story of Hindu Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan, not for the cinematic experience.... full review

So-So, Pinkvilla : ...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.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, Rediff : ...However, like the listeners of the balladeers of yore, watch it as entertainment or a heavily fictionalised version of history.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...Yet, when Prithviraj has Ghori at his feet, he let his adversary off. It is the first of a series of questionable decisions, for which the blame is apportioned elsewhere. If Prithviraj’s astrologer and confidante Chand (Sonu Sood) is to believed, his king’s eclipse is predestined. And then there is the treachery of people like Jaychand to consider.... full review

Thumbs down, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Debutant Manushi Chhillar is graceful, but emotionally unequipped to play such a pivotal role. The well-known incident from history here Sanyukta elopes with Prithviraj during her own swayamvar could have aimed for a deeper impact. The same goes for film which falls short of an epic breadth by a wide margin.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...Music by Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy is good. Hari Har, Yodha, Hadd Kar De and Makhmali have the flavour of that era in addition to the modern-day touch. Overall, 'Samrat Prithviraj' is a one time watch that is nowhere close to the noted historical dramas Bollywood has produced.... full review

Thumbs down, by Soumya Srivastawa, Hindustan Times : ...Based on poem Prithviraj Raso by the king's loyal Chand Bardai (played by Sonu Sood in the film), Samrat Prithviraj often crosses over to panegyric, bhajan territory rather than stay believable as a story of a brave but still 'human' king. There is nothing more distancing than a man who is already a god.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...As befits its simplistic, shorn-of-nuance tone, the film is loud and lurid, lurching between dialogue-baazi and blandness, and staying determinedly faithful to its stated intent.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...A historical drama of this magnitude needed more than just a big budget. It required a sharper eye, a larger vision and a greater degree of integrity, none of which is within its grasp.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anuj Kumar, The Hindu : ...No Chand Bardai can save this Prithvirajl he will require political bandmasters to extol its mediocrity for some time.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...The film isn’t all bad though. The music is brilliant, and the script was clearly written after research. What a debut for former Miss World Manushi Chhillar! While she isn’t the best actor on screen, she was memorable and for a debut, that’s good enough.... full review

Thumbs down, by Pooja Birala Jaiswal, The Week : ...Samrat Prithviraj might test your patience and endurance levels. The only compelling narrative in this dull drama is that of Manav Vij's character of Ghori who itches to invade and pillage.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads. A couple of long war scenes. One long sequence of Akshay Kumar fighting lions.
  • Language: Clean. A name maybe intentionally tweaked to sounds like a Hindi curse word.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Prithviraj Chauhan’s bravery
  • General Look and Feel: Grand visuals. But nothing out of the ordinary for a film with this budget and stature.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Samrat Prithviraj - Cast, crew, links

Background Score:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
135 minutes

Comments (2)

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Dear Meetu, I have read and heard many reviews - buts yours is one of the best reviews of Prithviraj I have come across. The way you write is exactly the way a common-sense person would feel. I think the casting was improper because Prithviraj died at age of 26 years. I think, everyone associating with the movie was the pillion-riding on Muslim bashing and showcasing Hindutva brigade - just to make some money. I am happy that the movie is not doing well and will be a FLOP.

Thank you :)

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