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Samrat Prithviraj Movie Review: Akshay Kumar is average in a historical that plays by the rules

Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar look the parts as Prithviraj Chauhan and Sanyogita but their performances let down. The duo's chemistry is one of the weak points of the movie and they do not strike a chord as an onscreen couple.

Devasheesh Pandey Devasheesh Pandey Updated on: June 03, 2022 13:18 IST
Samrat Prithviraj poster

Samrat Prithviraj poster

Photo:FILE PHOTO
  • Movie Name:Samrat Prthviraj
  • Critics Rating: 2.5 / 5
  • Release Date: June 3, 2022
  • Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi
  • Genre: Historical action drama

Samrat Prithviraj Movie Review: Samrat Prithviraj narrates the valour of the eponymous Indian ruler in a never-told-before manner. It presents a mix of the personal and duty-bound aspects of a courageous leader's life who in significant ways changed the course of history. While the movie succeeds in creating an enigma and inspire awe about Prithviraj Chahuhan, who many may not know much about, leading star Akshay Kumar's subpar portrayal makes it a bit of a tiresome cinematic experience and distracts from the storytelling in parts.

Director Chandrapraksh Dwivedi transports us to 12th-century India in a stylish manner. There are extravagant sets and the dialogue writing aims to immerse us into the glory of India's past. The introduction scene of Prithviraj shows him in captivity as he battles lions in a fighting pit. It is a powerful set piece to begin the narrative with and sets high expectations for the rest of the runtime. But hereon, the screenplay keeps going back and forth between a romance angle and setting up forthcoming rivalries. These frequent thematic changes showcase different sides to Prithviraj but the lack of balance is clearly evident and this is where the film starts to look without a clear aim.

Akshay's portrayal of Prithviraj is half-hearted. He may look the part, dressed up in elaborate costumes and whole the set up around him, but the actor's performance is pretty average and one of the weak points of the movie. He wears stone-cold expressions on his face throughout, breaking into an occasional grin. This pattern is repeated over and over. As soon as one gets drawn into the life of Prithviraj, Akshay's withdrawn staging of the character does not let the audience invest in the storytelling too much. 

Manushi Chhillar's presence is also underwhelming. She looks pretty in intricately designed costumes but just like Akshay, only looks the part. Her chemistry with Akshay is way off the mark even though a major part of the film is focused on bringing to light the Prithviraj-Sanyogita love story. However, the theme of women empowerment is dealt with honestly in the scenes involving her. Dialogues do justice to this aspect of the story that also looks to break gender barriers through the efforts of men and women in power. One of the most touching scenes is when Prithviraj gives Sanyogita a place in the Delhi court and when the latter expresses in her own voice the discrimination faced by her gender. Sanyogita as a character is well written and follows a fruitful arc. The song sequences featuring her are the highlights and Manushi's screen presence is felt when she brings forth her dancing prowess.

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.

Come to think of it, it's not too difficult to create the look and feel of ancient times in a controlled environment. Historicals on TV have been doing this for years now, and rather convincingly. But when the screenplay demands challenges and the characters need to find new avenues of expression, sudden digression lets down. The direction is good in parts but average overall. The cinematography makes the packaging a bit more attractive and glossy. The background score is, however, repetitive.

The movie does well in spotlighting the contributions of an Indian ruler and his people's sacrifice toward the dream of a united India. Where it lacks is raising the stakes as it does not take risks at all. There is a clear lack of attempt when it comes to going into uncharted territories. Samrat Prithviraj sticks to playing it by the rules.