Bollywood Baatein: Why is Rs.230 crore not visible in Samrat Prithviraj?

An atmosphere of dismay and anger prevails at Yash Raj. The onus of Samrat Prithviraj’s failure is being placed on its leading man Akshay Kumar’s shoulder

Bollywood Baatein: Why is Rs.230 crore not visible in Samrat Prithviraj?
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Subhash K Jha

The failure of Yash Raj Films and Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s prestigious pricey posh and ultimately pointless Samrat Prithviraj has left producer Aditya Chopra fuming and seething in rage.

The first question being asked is, where did all the money from the estimated budget of Rs. 230 crores go? Not much of it is visible on screen. The special effects are downright tacky and the film’s purported epic vision seems to have been lost in translation.

This is Aditya Chopra’s second thundering flop in a row after Jayeshbhai Jordaar (JJ) which starred Yash Raj’s blue-eyed boy Ranveer Singh. And Chopra is not amused. In the cases of both Samrat Prithviraj and JJ the failure has been of epic proportions. Shows of JJ had to be cancelled due to zero attendance. And now with Samrat Prithviraj , history has repeated itself, though not in a good way.

An atmosphere of dismay and anger prevails at Yash Raj. The onus of Samrat Prithviraj’s failure is being placed on its leading man Akshay Kumar’s shoulder.

“He wouldn’t listen,” a source in the know informs. “The film required a dedicated concentration. He wouldn’t even grow a real moustache, as he was doing other project simultaneously. When playing someone so historically important, why couldn’t he have done just this one project, and given his best to it?”

The film’s architects are blaming Akshay Kumar for the failure of Samrat Prithviraj .

Akshay could have taken a page from his father-in-law Rajesh Khanna who had to grow a beard for Yash Chopra’s Ittefaq in 1969 at the peak of his superstardom. Khanna grew the beard and allowed the continuity process in other films notably Raj Khosla’s Do Raaste, to suffer. In Do Raaste the beard kept appearing and disappearing.

I had asked Rajesh Khanna about this and his reply was terse but revealing. “Continuity suffered in Do Raaste. But I was committed to sporting a real beard in Ittefaq. A fake one would have looked…fake.”

The beard for Ittefaq was part of Khanna’s contract. The moustache in Samrat Prithviraj should have been the same.

Suman Sinha, an enraged film exhibitor in Bihar, is hugely upset by Akshay’s false moustache. “Does Mr Akshay Kumar realise what the moustache means to Rajput pride? It is the fulcrum of a Rajput’s identity. You can’t mess around with the moustache.”


The moustache is not all that is wrong with Samrat Prithviraj . The entire project seems to have suffered from a lack of conviction.

The film was originally planned by director Dwivedi with Sunny Deol and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan playing Prithviraj and Samyukta. When Aditya Chopra and Yash Raj Films decided to produce the film, Akshay Kumar came into the picture.

Alas, the rest is not history. This portrayal of Prithviraj Chauhan ranks as one of the worst on-screen treatment of the legendary Rajput warrior. It ranks lower than even the 1959 version of the valorous Prithviraj’s exploits which starred Jairaj in the title role.

After two thundering flops-- Bachchan Pandey and Samrat Prithviraj , Akshay Kumar is looking at his next project Ram Setu more carefully. He should have done that earlier.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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