The New York Times describes Vidhu Vinod Chopra's new film Eklavya: The Royal Guard as a sombre drama that clearly has a heart for the classics.
"Dharma, the time-honoured concept of proper conduct, is a recurrent notion" in the film that opened Friday in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, said critic Andy Webster, in the film's review.
"...And while the film takes place in the present, it clearly has a heart for the classics, particularly those of eastern philosophy, Shakespeare and genre cinema," he added.
Shakespeare's sonnet ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day...") is twice invoked in the film and its dark palace interiors and scheming evoke Macbeth, the influential American daily noted.
But the swooping camera movements, slow motion and dexterous derring-do conjure martial arts movies; arid desert scenes suggest the western; and a spooky confrontation in a villain's screening room almost plays like the 1960 British thriller Peeping Tom, it said.
"The main tribute in The Royal Guard, however, is to Mr Bachchan, an aging Bollywood monument (and father of the rising actor Abhishek Bachchan), whose sunken, heavy-lidded eyes, grizzled countenance and noble bearing indisputably convey the presence of a seasoned star," Webster said.