I’ve blogged before about my habit of drifting off into an alternate universe when a film becomes very dull – so that, even as the visuals continue to unfold before my glazed eyes, I impose my own mini-scripts on top of them. I’m no scriptwriter, but this little exercise is usually more purposeful than the original film could be.
This is what happened with Eklavya: The Royal Guard, a film that exists for little purpose other than to present a series of self-consciously beautiful images and more varieties of plump pigeons than you’d ever have thought could exist in Rajasthan. (As if to put the seal on his obsession with these birds, director Vidhu Vinod Chopra also shows us a pigeon-filled scene from one of his earlier films, Parinda.)
Anyway, I watched as one gloomy conversation followed another, as Boman Irani fumed and looked intense, Jackie Shroff snarled and looked intense and Amitabh’s eyes grew increasingly blood-shot and he looked intense. Then, midway through the film, Vidya Balan walked into a room with a large golden oval-shaped object protruding from her forehead. This was the moment I had been waiting for. “She’s wearing a microphone!” I exclaimed to my long-suffering girlfriend, “It’s a bug planted by the policeman so he can listen in on her conversations with Saif and solve all the murders.” I was very pleased by this development because the mystery angle of the film had been going nowhere.
The girlfriend tried to explain that the microphone was one of those tikka things that new brides wear, but this made no sense. Over the next several minutes I watched fascinated as the thing bobbed about menacingly, making Ms Balan look like a Star Trek alien with bad make-up. (The Boman Irani character was a Klingon anyway, so it fit the theme.) And in a powerful climax, Saif ran howling from the mansion, blood streaming from his head, after a kissing attempt was thwarted by the point at the end of the golden globe.
These developments changed the tone of Eklavya for me and made it much more tolerable than it might otherwise have been. “Nice film,” I said, as we emerged blinking into the sunlight outside the hall, “though I didn’t understand why Amitabh didn’t simply beam that evil Jackie Shroff back to his home planet.” It seemed the only question worth asking.
P.S. Apologies to all the little boys around the country who are besotted with Vidya Balan because “she’s the kind of girl you can take home to your mother” (what, your mother’s a lesbian with bad taste? I have to ask whenever I hear this phrase), but each of those pigeons has a wider gamut of facial expressions than this girl does.