Drona's release, and all the sundry pre-release promos, were conducted with all the subtlety of a bulldozer. The film however turns out to be a bad case of empty vessels. Director Goldie Behl compared this film to the Indiana Jones and the Harry Potter movies. That is somewhat like comparing Chacha Choudhary to Asterix.
The story borrows from Indian mythology and connects it to the present day. Throughout centuries, Maharaja Virbhadra Singh and his descendants have protected amrit, the nectar of immortality, from the wicked demons. These descendants were all called Drona, because the amrit was protected in a dron (a vessel).
Aditya (Abhishek Bachchan) is next in the valiant lineage, but doesn't realize it until he grows up and faces the mad magician Riz Raizada (Kay Kay Menon). Riz Raizada covets the amrit like all the demons before him, and will stop at nothing to attain the enviable state of immortality.
Protected by the fearless Sonia (Priyanka Chopra with a bad wardrobe), who belongs to the lineage of the bodyguards of the Dronas, Aditya discovers his royal origins, and his mother, Queen Jayati (Jaya Bachchan). Hiss life takes a leap from Cinderella, to a super-hero who has to guard the amrit from Riz Raizada's greed.
Drona is a noble attempt to weave Indian mythology and magic into a fantastic adventure story, with help from Harry Potter, Amar Chitra Katha, and the age-old super-hero formula of ordinary-boy-with-problems-discovers-new-identity. Only, it is not quite there.
For starters, the story is narrated with all the finesse of a moose on a sneezing spree. Disjointed scenes, assorted characters and strange hooded figures constantly keep spurting out, and there is little or no background to most of the events, making the tale incomprehensible and leaving you bewildered.
Then, both Abhishek and Priyanka contribute their bit to the mystery by constantly mumbling vague and inaudible lines, that could be related to the dron (or Chopra's costumes - who knows?). And Jaya Bachchan plays Aditya's mother with the enthusiasm of a statue (and fittingly enough, they do turn her into one).
Well, to be fair, what you expect out of a hero of a fantasy adventure is, not the dialogues, not the literature, but some edgy action. But Abhishek is no tower-hopping Krrish, neither is he a sword-fighting Akbar. He is the kind of actor who epitomizes understated, refined performances. Drona offers few such moments for him, but even those scenes don't require him to do anything more than frown at the camera.
In fact, the movie's role-reversal - it is the woman who does all the fighting and protecting while the man broods and pines for his true destiny - heavily suggests that the film should have been named Sonia, instead.
Kay Kay Menon as Riz Raizada seems wasted with his menacing role that involves little more than bizarre facial and vocal contortions. His Tintin hairdo makes him seem dotty, and those special effects in his scenes don't add any depth to his character.
Did someone say special effects? And to think they were designed by the people who were behind the Matrix and the Harry Potter series. The illustrations in the beginning are far more enchanting and mysterious than the real thing.
And the illustrations were where the art department seems to have stopped its work, too. There are no innovative or interesting props, even to add to the fantasy angle - just a few Incredible India-style caskets and baubles with some quaint mirror-work on them. A huge letdown from a film that claimed to be inspired by Indian magic.
Drona is a half-decent attempt, and twice as long as one. Watch it out of a genuine adoration for Abhishek Bachchan, but that's about it.