Much has been said about “Samrat Prithviraj,” including the casting choices, historical inaccuracies, and controversial statements made during the film’s promotion. It wouldn’t make sense to revisit any of that in what we want to be an honest analysis of the film. While its biggest promotional aspect is that it is based on a real-life figure, we are choosing to look at it as an independent story, devoid of connections to history. And when we turn to do that, what we find is a lackluster narrative that wastes the potential of a fantastic cast. It was not a bad movie, but it was not as good as it could be. Let us see what the story presented in the film is about.
Why Does Prithviraj Have A Battle With Muhammed Ghori?
“Samrat Prithviraj” is based on the epic poem “Prithviraj Raso,” written by Chand Vardai. But it does deviate significantly from it. In the film, Prithviraj fights with Ghori to uphold the principles of the Kshatriyas. It all starts when Mir Hussain rushes to Prithviraj, seeking his protection from his brother, as he has run away with Chitrarekha, the Sultan’s concubine. Prithviraj considers it his duty to protect anyone who asks for it and does so accordingly, by going to war with Muhammed of Ghori. This act of his is met with strong disapproval from Kaka Kanha, one of the members of his court, as well as a dear relative. Kaka Kanha is ordered by Prithviraj to always stay blindfolded, as he had killed one of the King’s guests for being arrogant. He can only take off the blindfold for war and women. Kaka Kanha, played by Sanjay Dutt, is one of the more one-dimensional characters. His character is defined by his hot-headedness and his loyalty to Prithviraj, both very admirable qualities. But it starts to feel a little off when every scene of his opens with a dialogue about his love for Prithviraj. This gives the impression that very little work went into building the characters for the film. Sanjay Dutt has larger-than-life ease of manner, and it should have been put to better use.
On the other hand, you have someone like Sonu Sood playing Chand Vardai, the poet who wrote Prithviraj Raso. According to the film, he was born on the same date and time as the King and died at the same time too. The actor brings a restrained dignity to the role of the poet who can foretell the future. Seeing him on screen makes us wonder what it would have been like if Sonu Sood had played Prithviraj. Akshay Kumar was a good fit for the role, but Sonu Sood would have been incredible, considering he is already no less than a hero off-screen. If only Bollywood had been brave enough to make that casting choice. Coming back to the story, after being defeated at the hands of Prithviraj, Ghori returns to his homeland. Prithvi ascends to the throne of Delhi as the next King, and that begins the second phase of the film.
How Did Prithvi And Sanyogita Fall In Love?
They were already in love when the movie began. Their love story unravels through the letters they wrote to each other, and since Prithviraj became the King of Delhi, Sanyogita tells him that it is time for them to get married. But this love story for the ages was not without its fair share of challenges. Sanyogita’s father hates Prithvi since he wanted Delhi’s throne for himself. So he decides to conduct a swayamvar for Sanyogita—a practice where the bride chooses her groom for herself. He does so because that would give him the support he needs to establish his supremacy. To spite Prithviraj further, he installs a golden statue of him as a gatekeeper to the palace.
Sanyogita is unable to stand this. She confronts her father but is told that she has no choice in the matter. But the princess finds a way through her mother. The queen is aware of the restrictions of traditions and abides by them, but she is also keenly aware of their unjust nature. She gives Sanyogita a way out by telling her to follow her heart and fight for her rights. Sakshi Tanwar was a delight to watch in these scenes. Sanyogita takes her mother’s advice and establishes her right over her own life by putting the garland around the golden statue’s neck, thus declaring that she has chosen Prithviraj as her husband. As her father turns red with rage, Prithviraj arrives on the scene and takes away Sanyogita with him. This is one of the most epic tales of love, one that warms the feminist corners of her heart, but alas, what follows makes us facepalm hard. There is a sub-plot of Prithviraj encouraging Sanyogita to hold court with him. Understandably, this is met with a lot of opposition from his courtiers and Sanyogita herself, who is in a lot of doubt. It makes sense. But what follows is “token feminism” at its best, with a particular dialogue of foregoing her rights by her own will, which is the same as fighting for her rights.’ Make it make sense. This scene was less about feminism and more about Prithviraj’s heroism. When will Bollywood understand what it actually means to fight for oneself?
As far as Manushi Chillar’s performance is concerned, she looks the part, and she sounds the part. But her eyes lack the fire you expect from a princess who defied her father and went against an entire court to marry the man of her dreams. This is her first movie, so maybe we will see better from her in the future.
‘Samrat Prithviraj’ Ending Explained: Did Prithviraj Defeat Muhammed Ghori?
According to the film, Ghori wins the second battle with Prithviraj by treacherously murdering his troops in the dark. Prithviraj, Chand Vardai, and the rest of his soldiers are taken hostage. The King is blinded by Ghori as punishment. But before we talk more about the Sultan’s cruelty towards our hero, can we just say how admirably Manav Vij executes this role? Bollywood has always shown rulers of a particular religion in a barbaric light, but the restraint and style that the actor brings to it make him the best-played character in the movie.
At the end of the film, Prithviraj challenges Ghori to a fight where he claims that he would be able to kill Ghori and, in return, his fellow countrymen should be released. Having been sufficiently provoked, Ghori agrees. And as the epic goes, Prithviraj’s sense of hearing and his combat skills were so sharp that he single-handedly brought down the Sultan Muhamed of Ghori. Prithviraj and Chand Vardai are shot dead by the Sultan’s army, but true to their word, they release the prisoners, and both the Rajput men get a hero’s farewell. And that’s how the story of Prithviraj, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, concludes.
Final Thoughts- What Doesn’t Work For ‘Samrat Prithviraj’?
We know that “Samrat Prithviraj” does not follow history or even the epic poem it was based on. It should have. Those were excellent narrations. The movie is very superficial in its treatment of politics. We are not sure of the reason for this. Hopefully, it’s not because the makers underestimated the intelligence of the audience, because in that case, they need to remember that movies like Jodha Akbar, where the complex dynamics of the characters were one of the defining reasons for its success. The film was mainly about the valor of the King. We agree with that, but the limited representation of one of the most famous kings in the history of the country gives us an uncomfortable feeling that the movie was more about the image of the actor than the character he portrayed. And we have seen enough of that. To summarize our feelings, Prithviraj Chauhan deserved a better movie, and we hope that happens soon.
“Samrat Prithviraj” is a 2022 Indian Drama film directed by Chandra Prakash Dwivedi.