Eklavya, The Royal Guard

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The Independent Culture

Some way from stereotypical Bollywood fare, Eklavya, The Royal Guard may have a bejewelled castle and some pantomime acting, but it also has a running time of a mere hour and three quarters, and there's only one musical number from start to finish. It's a strikingly shot, elegantly plotted Shakespearean drama of palace intrigue and revenge, which begins with a king learning that his two grown-up heirs were actually fathered by his bodyguard (Amitabh Bachchan), and then strangling his sick wife.

But after these scenes within the ornate castle walls, we see a helicopter landing outside, and realise that it isn't set in the feudal past, but the present day. It's an inspired opening for a story which weighs tradition against modernity, and sacred duty against reason. Eklavya also boasts one of the only action set pieces of recent times to feature a herd of camels.

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