Fantasy is a genre rarely (if ever) attempted by mainstream Bollywood. Aside from the large budget that a fantasy film requires, it is essential that its fictional world is created with a detailed thoroughness that transports the audience. Drona has a big budget, as is evidenced by the star cast and extravagant CGI scenes, but the story does not make any emotional connection or point.
Young Aditya is brought up by foster parents, complete with the clichéd evil step-mother. Similar to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Drona depicts a poor, orphaned boy, living alone in an attic, unaware of his latent magical powers. Unlike the adolescent Harry Potter, however, who had no choice but to live with the only “family” he knew, we see a 30-year-old Aditya (A. Bachchan) still living with his emotionally abusive foster mother and brother. Why a grown adult would put up with such harassment is unfathomable. Mystical blue rose petals fall from the sky periodically throughout Aditya’s life and are his only companions. The rose petals lead him to a sacred golden bracelet. Upon wearing the bracelet, Aditya becomes Drona, the legendary guardian of the secret of immortality.
Here we are introduced to our main villain—an asura in the guise of a magician named Riz Raizada (Menon). Raizada encounters Aditya at one of his magic shows, and a cat-and-mouse chase begins. Aditya’s fearless, sexy guard, Sonia (Chopra), saves him from Raizada’s initial attempt to capture Aditya. She also tells him of his true identity, and takes him to meet his mother, Rani Jayati Devi (J. Bachchan). When Raizada freezes Rani Jayati Devi into a statue of sand, Aditya, as Drona, sets off to defeat the asura through a special-effects-filled voyage through deserts, oceans, mountains, and invisible towns.
If the story line of Drona sounds appealing, please don’t be taken in. The film is anything but entertaining. Though the special effects themselves are impressive, especially for a Hindi movie, their irrelevance to the plot leaves the viewer wishing the director would just get on with the story. The production design for the fantasy land consists of gaudy colors strewn all over the screen, and I, for one, didn’t really feel compelled by the “other world.” The film drags on at snail’s pace, and ends in a predictable happy ending, with no plot twists.
Overall, Drona is possibly one of the worst Hindi movies of the year. Unless you’re in the mood to challenge your patience, don’t bother with this film.
|Antara Bhardwaj is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.|