I am quite mixed in my reaction to this movie - mainly because of the baggage that the director's name carries when it comes up on screen before the feature starts. VVC is a name to look forward to if you follow Indian Cinema, whether as Producer or as Director - and especially as director. After all, this is the man who gave us Kareeb, and before that 1942: A Love Story, and before that Parinda, and before that Khamoshi! But if you notice the pattern, this man started on the highest note and has only declined. Although his latest is not his best, especially given to believe what he could have accomplished, it still rises over contemporary *Bollywood* cinema (I don't count Bharadwaj in that list and Santoshi is an exception).
The movie starts by telling us who Eklavya was in Hindu Mythology, and lays the question: Was Eklavya's sacrifice in the name of Dharma (Moral Duty) right?
Eklavya (AB) plays the royal guard of the present-day King (Boman Irani) of a small Rajashthani town. When his Moral Duty is called into question, he has to make the choice between blindly following his Moral Duty or redefining what Dharma is. His dilemma is created mainly due to the presence of Kunwar Saif Ali Khan (Prince) and Kunwar Jackie Shroff (King's younger Brother).
Even for a little less than 2hrs, the movie trudges at a slow pace. The breathtaking visuals help to not ever let boredom set in, coupled with another outstanding performance by Saif Ali Khan. His brooding self-justified Kunwar is anchored in his own interpretation of a *new-age* Dharma that he preaches to redefine for Eklavya.
Being a little gutless, VVC does slip in the make-believe factor during the climax in an otherwise realistic movie. Yet his technique builds up enough positives that the end-result is stays well above the satisfaction line. A grateful/thankful performance from Jacki Shroff does not help, but Sanjay Dutt chews that off by stealing scenes even off from Ab. Boman Irani, Vidya Balan, Raima Sen, Parikhist Sahini are fill-ins.
Over time, the movie might be reduced to one of academic interest only in the Director's filmography, but could be just a little more for the major actors.
My Rating --> 3.5 of 5