By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee
Friday, September 28, 2007
The Vidhu Vinod Chopra directed Eklavya - The Royal Guard has been nominated as India's official entry into the Oscars amidst controversy. It will compete with others movies in Best Foreign Language category in the 80th Academy Awards. This is not the first time that the director has been nominated for the Academy Awards. He made his debut with a non-fiction films An Encounter With Faces way back in 1980 and in the year 1989 his movie Parinda was India's official nomination to the awards.
Eklavya is a movie about a royal guard Eklavya (Amitabh Bachchan) whose family has guarded the Kings of Devigarh for nine generations. The purpose of his life is to protect the Devigarh dynasty and all their royal secrets which will die with him on his funeral pyre. The heir to the throne Prince Harshvardhan (Saif Ali Khan) goes to London unable to adjust with the age old customs and traditions. He returns for the funeral of his mother Queen Suhasinidevi (Sharmila Tagore). The entire kingdom is overjoyed with the return of their prince so is his mentally challenged twin sister, Princess Nandini (Raima Sen).
The movie also shows the romantic side of the prince and his love for his childhood sweetheart Rajjo (Vidya Balan). He faces challenges in the kingdom as injustice is being done to the farmers and their lands begin taken away by king Rana Jaywardhan (Boman Irani) along with his brother Rana Jyotiwardhan (Jackie Shroff). The young prince receives a threat call over the phone and Pannalal Chauhan (Sanjay Dutt) investigates the threat to the king. In the mean time many of the secrets of the dynasty are being revealed.
The nomination is facing its share of controversy as the critics are banking on the fact that movie doesn't deserve a nomination as it could not run successfully in its own country. Eklavya faced stiff competition from Chak De! India, Gandhi, My Father and Dharm. It has become a routine affair in India with the nominations every year. Last year there was controversy when Rang De Basanti was nominated ahead of Laage Raho Munna Bhai. The later that went into the awards as an unofficial entry. In the year 2005 there was a row when Paheli was nominated ahead of Black.
The nominations to the awards Best Foreign Film category have some strict guidelines to follow. The movie needs to be in the regional language of that country which can be Hindi or any other regional language. The movie needs to portray the local customs and traditions and speak about that country. Eklavya stands up on both these criteria and thus is a perfect nomination for the Oscars.