Sony TV's streak of presenting mega shows has finally concluded as it launched the extravaganza, Prithvi Vallabh - Itihaas Bhi Rahasya Bhi yesterday.
Also, the first installment of SET Originals, Prithvi Vallabh did have a lot of expectations before the premiere episode and with two episodes of the show finally on-air, I analyse as to whether Prithvi Vallabh lived up to the hype it generated initially.
What's It About?
The battle between Malwas in Madhya Pradesh and the Manyakhet kingdom in South India is the root of this saga.
Without much delay, we are immediately introduced to Mrinal (Sonarika Bhadoria), who is fierce, ruthless and unforgiving only having a soft corner towards her younger brother, Tailap (Jitin Gulati) the ruler of Manyakhet. The backstory of Mrinal turning from a happy and art-loving girl to a vengeful woman and her brother, Tailap being the ruler of Manyakhet constitutes a promising start.
A gruesome battle with Panchaal Naresh follows, where Mrinal and Tailap strategize to invade the former's settlement and demolish them before they get the assistance of the African warriors they ordered for, so that she can convince the latter to join them.
Parallely, we are introduced to a nature-loving, snake-friendly, singing and smiling man, Prithvi Vallabh (Ashish Sharma). He is an orphan, who was picked up by the same man who attacked Mrinal's kingdom when she was little and the former sees Prithvi as his worthy successor as he is ailing to death. Predictably, Prithvi already has a hater in the form of Sindhu, who is the trueborn son of the attacking king.
Meanwhile, a free-flowing and dancing Prithvi is attacked by the African soldiers sent by Mrinal and it is only this time, we are introduced to the one-man army and a fierce warrior-side of Prithvi Vallabh.
Being able to kill everyone with in no time, Prithvi tells one of Manyakhet's men to go and inform that the Malwas do not want war, but this shouldn't be misunderstood as their weakness as they can produce wrath if disturbed.
Mrinal, who learns that the whole army is finished, immediately orders everyone to find out who exactly this Prithvi Vallabh is. She vows to know it all about him and when a sketch artist draws and paints Prithvi Vallabh's face, she puts a knife through the portrait.
And on the other side, Prithvi's Gurudev (Mukesh Rishi) is mad at him for doing things and taking decisions according to his will, but is also proud of him. Thus begins the real battle between Prithvi Vallabh and Mrinal, who as we know will fall in love later. But with such hatred and conviction to defeat the other, how will Mrinal and Prithvi become one? Will we see Tailap betraying his sister due to his wife? Only time can tell..
It's almost a given that with a scale like this, Prithvi Vallabh promises grandeur and an epic setting. However, what's even more amazing is how the show's scale, albeit ginormous, doesn't look forced or pounded upon. What usually goes wrong with historical shows is that, only for the sake of a huge setting, unwanted props are inserted in the art design. But, in Prithvi Vallabh, every frame with a prop is justified and stays aesthetic. And for that, I give my hat to Mr. Anirudh Pathak, who has produced the show. Not many know that this the man's first production and to be able to justify each and every enormous setting with the right prop involved is a rarity. Kudos!
The show had two battle sequences in the first two episodes and the one with Sonarika aka Mrinal leading charge was absolutely blistering. With a fantastic continual camera shot, slo-mo (slow-motion) sword blazes, alluring aerial shots and Sonarika's spot-on expressions, the action sequence is one for the history books to be remembered.
The sibling love between Tailap and Mrinal is also a refreshing factor in the show. There is no hugs, smiles or physical affection between the brother and sister; but there is mutual sense of respect, love and care which binds them together. But, it almost seems certain that this bond will be entangled with Tailap's wife being jealous of Mrinal and the latter soon going to fall in love with Prithvi.
The CGI, dialogues and art design is one of the prime factors that make Prithvi Vallabh an instant favourite for many. There aren't too many technical flaws which is a certain rarity, when you're presenting a historical Hindi language show.
The little cameos made by stalwart actors like Gurdeep Kohli and Narendra Jha are a depiction of how we are finally accepting the fact that at times, what matters is the character and not the actor's screen-time.
Last, but not the least, is the storytelling style which scores the maximum points here. Inspite of it being an ancient saga, the makers have simplified things in the best manner which doesn't bore you or make you scratch your head.
I don't completely have a complaint with it too much, because I understand the need for drama; but, the loud treatment of the flashback sequence was a tad too much to endure.
As mentioned above, there are two battle sequences. And while Sonarika's once aced the brief, Ashish Sharma's one-man army battle wasn't as impactful as it was meant to be, if a little logic comes to play. Yes, he is the hero and he can beat the whole army, but the constant slo-mo camera shots and Rohit Shetty action-inspired flying moves made things a little uninteresting after a point of time.
Ashish Sharma and Sonarika Bhadoria completely ace their roles with perfect conviction. While, Ashish aptly portrayed the soft and fierce side of Prithvi Vallabh, Sonarika's portrayal of a no-nonsense and ruthless Mrinal was as brooding as it can get. A special mention as to how Mrinal doesn't smile throughout the episodes and infact maintains a poker face with unblinking eyes which for Sonarika would have been really tough to do, but she does so convincingly.
The rest of the cast stay true to their characters, where Jitin aka Tailap and Surendra Pal aka Gurudev deserve worthy mentions.
The biggest positive that can make Prithvi Vallabh a certain winner is how the show finally decodes how a historical show should actually be narrated in modern times. There is no unwanted intricacies, complex dialogues and convoluted plotline to offer. But, with crystal clear storytelling, large scale treatment and spectacular performances, this historical show is one for the history books of Indian television.