Prithviraj trailer: Akshay Kumar, Chandraprakash, Yash Raj have an epic tale in Prithviraj

Director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s film largely draws its inspiration from poet Chand Bardai’s Prithviraj Raso.

By Mayur Lookhar

If it is not nationalism at the borders, then Bollywood has lately turned to history to celebrate unsung heroes. While the concept of India only came into being once the British invaded Hindustan, the region’s early history [as Bharat] is largely riddled with royal wars, both against the domestic and external foes.

The present day environment is convenient to take on the Islamic invaders. Sanjay Leela Bhansali reaped great success with Padmaavat [2018]. Ashutosh Gowariker made a diplomatic attempt to expose Afghan warlord Ahmed Shah Durrani with Panipat [2019]. Now Yash Raj Films, director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi and super star Akshay Kumar have come together to take on the Ghurid dynasty. Kumar steps into the shoes of Prithviraj, a 12 century strong Hindu ruler from the Chahanama [Chauhan] dynasty.

While he did a Kesari [2019] before, but this is Kumar’s maiden film in a warrior king avatar . While he fought domestic wars too, but Prithviraj gained his legend by defeating the then Ghurid ruler Muhammad Ghori in the first battle of Tarain in 1191. However, a year later, the invader returned to avenge the earlier defeat. Ghori’s win was seen as a landmark episode in the Islamic conquest of Hindustan.

Director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s film titled Prithviraj [2022] is based on the 12 century CE poet Prithvi Chand Bhatt’s, better known as Chand Bardai, epic poem Prithviraj Raso. History is always subjective, and the rise of ultra nationalism has compelled citizens to question the history that one grew up with. Prithviraj’s reign and more important his death has evoked different views from historians. While some say that he was beheaded by Ghori after the defeat at the second battle of Tarain [modern day Taraori in Haryana]. The Prithviraj Raso claims that the Chauhan king was taken as a prisoner, and later a blindfolded Prithviraj killed Ghori with his arrow.

Based on the trailer that was launched today [9 May], we can be rest assured that the Yash Raj film will indeed celebrate the valour of the Hindu king. The teaser felt noisy, but the trailer builds adequate intrigue around the epic. The most eye catching visual is towards the end of the trailer where a bearded, Prithviraj [taken as a war prisoner] is seen firing two arrows at the charging lions. This perhaps suggests that Dwivedi’s film chucks the theory that the Hindu warrior king was killed straight after the second battle of Tarain. Could the below visual hint towards the theory of Chauhan killing Ghori in his own arena?

This isn’t the first film on the warrior king. The first film dates back to 1924 titled Prithviraj Chouhan. Though a legend from the Hindi heartland, but the Hindu king’s love story was captured in Tamil film Rani Samyukhta [1962] with the late legend M.G. Ramachandran playing Prithviraj with Padmini playing Samyukhta.

Dwivedi earned his stripes as actor and director of the popular 90s TV series Chanakya. The now seasoned artiste is known for his research and his command over classical Hindi. Kumar, a Punjabi by birth, doesn’t really strike you as one who could be comfortable with the classical style, but he certainly has the physicality that is required for such a role.

Few things stand about Kumar in the trailer. First is the Valmiki reference and then the massy dialogue, “I’ve lived for duty, I will die for duty.” While the latter is self explanatory, but you got to appreciate how Dwivedi sheds light on the pluralism under Prithviraj. The Hindu king equates Prithvi Chand Bhatt, aka Chand Bardai with the lowborn Valmiki , who wrote Ramayana. “Thanks to Valmiki, we know of Lord Ram, because of Chand we know of Prithviraj Chauhan.,” Kumar says in the film. Sonu Sood essays the legendary poet’s character.

The action is likely to speak for itself, but the tough talking is more on the lines of a contemporary Akshay Kumar action film.

Akshay Kumar and Manushi Chhillar in Prithviraj [2022]

While there is quite an age gap between Kumar and first-time actor Manushi Chhillar, but the trailer holds promise for this jodi (pair). We didn’t catch her beauty or brains at the victorious beauty pageants, but Chhillar certainly has a pleasant tone to her. Rani Sanyogita, aka Samyukta, or Sanjukta, yearning for her prince charming, knight in a shining armor, is fairy tale-like, but it fits into the period. Sanyogita was the daughter of Jaychand, the rival King of Kannuaj. Jaychand opposed his daughter’s love for his rival and had arranged a swayamvar [ancient practice of a royal princess choosing her groom from a group of suitors]. However, Prithviraj gate crashed the swayamvar and walked away with his beloved.

Manav Vij as Muhammad Ghori in Prithviraj [2022]

While romance is an integral part of this film, but the focus will be on the war with Ghori. Big strong Manav Vij is an apt fit to play such characters. Fans will await the Ghori and Chauhan reel battle.

Sanjay Dutt is no baddie here, but Kaka Kanha, the loyal uncle of Prithviraj. It will be interesting to see who plays Vijayaraja of Jammu, who is said to have aided Ghori in avenging the earlier defeat to Prithviraj, as claimed by Tabaqat-i Nasiri, an elaborate history of the Islamic world written in Persian by Minhaj-i-Siraj Juzjani.

The Prithviraj theme in Pingal [ancient Rajasthani language] will naturally appease the Rajasthani belt. Epic stories require a little larger-than-life tropes, but we hope Dwivedi and producer Aditya Chopra give a balanced account of the life and times of the Hindu king.

Prithviraj [2022] is set to be released in theatres on 3 June . Watch the trailer below

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