Verdict: Witness the steel will of an extraordinary princess from a bygone era.
The words "long long time ago…" – instantly catch your attention. Stories, fantasy, palaces, princes, princesses, kings, and queens – these concepts have a unique place in our hearts. But not every royal affair ends on a happy note. India before Independence was a land where many such stories existed but not all of them got the attention they deserved. One such tale is about Maharani Yadhuvansh Kumari, daughter of Patiala’s then Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. Yadvi – The Dignified Princess is a sweet attempt by Maharani’s own granddaughter Jyoti Singh, also an actress and producer based in the US, to show the world how strong a woman her grandmother was. By assuming multiple roles of an actor, director, writer and producer, Jyoti, along with her sister Gauri Singh, has cut out a slice of life from their royal lineage and legacy and presented it cinematically for the people to witness it.
The initial clips filmed in the documentary style give the audience interesting insights into the present-day life of a royal family’s descendants in the US followed by the lavish and regal lifestyle of one of the 10 richest men in the 1920s, Maharaja of Patiala who owned an aircraft in addition to 20 Rolls Royce cars and a Maybach gifted by Hitler. After giving a historical brief about the king, we are introduced to the king’s (played by Chandrachur Singh) family consisting of his third wife Maharani Vimal Kaur (Charu Vyas) and their four children; Princess Yadhuvansh being the youngest. Amidst the love, care and moral teachings of her father, Princesses Yadvi is betrothed to marry a Rajput Prince Govind Singh (Rahul Godara) at a young age. The princess is to move with her in-laws only once 21 but a sudden death in the family and unfavorable situations force her to seek her husband prematurely. But once again disaster strikes when she finds her husband getting remarried to a Rajput Princess. When she finds herself being a victim of polygamy and patriarchy, she doesn’t lose hope but continues living with integrity and self-respect and raises her three daughters single-handedly. Her journey from being a Maharani to the one searching for firewood in the chilling cold of Uttarakhand is one marked by shame, struggle, and societal pressure.
Yadvi – The Dignified Princess, to begin with, is a docu-drama that educates us not only about the iron will and courage of a woman at a time when feminism was not even understood properly in the country, but also opens our eyes to ugly truths. On the acting front, the lead characters were pretty decent and managed to evoke desired emotions but the supporting cast was underwhelming with their robotic dialogue delivery, uncomfortable accents, and sub-par acting. The dialogues could have been more effective in Hindi and the crisper editing could have done wonders. Though Jyoti Singh looks fresh as a dewdrop in every frame, she doesn’t complement the character of a 19-year-old princess. The Chandrachur Singh tries hard to leave an impact and before he succeeds you find him gone from the screen. The camera work was average throughout the film but the recurrent close-up shots were disturbing. If these were replaced with long or standard shots, the scenes could have been aesthetically better. Surprisingly, the film’s music by Anuj Garg was excellent and if more attention had been given to the other aspects, this historical drama could have made for an interesting piece of cinema.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
If you are a history lover or find biographies of extraordinary people motivating. Also, not every day a film on India’s royal history comes from a source as authentic as a royal family member; in this case Jyoti Singh. A little bit of drama, a little bit of history and a little bit of biography is not a bad idea.
PS: The music of this film will definitely bring a smile to your face if not anything else.