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Sikander (India, 1941)

/images/sikander.jpg Image: Director Modi talking to Prithviraj (Alexander) during the shooting of "Sikander", India, early 1940s

Director: Sohrab Modi
Actors: Prithviraj Kapoor (Alexander), Sohrab Modi (Porus), Vanmala (Roxane), Meena Shorey, Sheela, Shakir, Sadiq Ali
134 mins. b/w

Story Line

Scene 1 - Somewhere in Persia, 327 BC. Aristotle arrives for a public lecture and is annoyed Alexander is not attending it.

Scene 2 - Love scene between Alexander and Roxane. Alexander tells her he wants her to bear a Greek name and re-names her 'Jasmine'.

Scene 3 - Aristotle visits Alexander and warns the king that his love for women distracts his mind from his real goal: to conquer the world.

Scene 4 - Confrontation between Alexander and Roxane. Alexander tells Roxane one Aristotle can create 300 Alexanders, but 1000 Alexanders can not create one Aristotle. Roxane is furious.

Scene 5 - Near a fountain Roxane sings a song about her youth.

Scene 6 - Aristotle meets Roxane. The couple starts playing and teasing.

Scene 7 - Alexander discovers the playing couple. Aristotle claims he has now proven that Roxane is misleading Alexander.

Scene 8 - Alexander vows to Roxane he will not touch her body again before he has reached his goal to conquer the world.

Scene 9 - Aristotle leaves for Greece and Alexander orders the attack on India.

Scene 10 - The army sings a cheerful song while marching to India. But when Alexander has left, Roxane secretly sneaks out of the palace and moves undercover to India.

Scene 11 - Battle scenes of Alexander's advancing army, scoring victory after victory until arrival at the river Jhelum (Hydaspes).

Scene 12 - An Indian scout reports Alexander's arrival to King Porus. Porus declares war and summons his ally King Ambhi.

Scene 13 - Ambhi announces he wants to surrender to Alexander.

Scene 14 - Alexander receives gifts from Ambhi.

Scene 15 - Roxane, disguised as an Indian woman, attends a festival in India.

Scene 16 - Roxane makes use of the festival tradition to connect herself to King Porus as brother and sister.

Scene 17 - Love scene of Porus' brother Amar and his lover.

Scene 18 - Porus grants Roxane her private quarters in the palace and money. Roxane explains she wants to protect Alexander against Porus.

Scene 19 - Seleucus and Eumenes report that Porus is ready to battle.

Scene 20 - Porus adresses his court. Porus says Alexander's agression was uncalled for and therefore it is his duty to fight back.

Scene 21 - Porus' court sings a song about the coming victory and the freedom of India.

Scene 22 - Monologue of Roxane. Roxane explains she loves Alexander as her beloved and Porus as her brother.

Scene 23 - Alexander is outraged when Seleucus and Eumenes report the monsoon rains prevented the army from crossing the river.

Scene 24 - Alexander prays before a picture of Roxane that he may soon be re-united with her.

Scene 25 - Porus' court sings another song anticipating the Indian victory.

Scene 26 - Alexander disguises himself as a messenger and shows up at Porus' court to deliver the declaration of war. Porus however recognizes Alexander. Alexander removes his fake beard. Porus says that he could kill Alexander on the spot. But as Alexander entered the palace as a mere messenger, he should also leave as a messenger.

Scene 27 - Roxane sings a song about Alexander.

Scene 28 - Another song; the Indians discuss tactics to beat Alexander.

Scene 29 - Alexander instructs his troops about how to fool the Indians.

Scene 30 - The sneaky river crossing of the Macedonian army.

Scene 31 - Porus sends his brother Amar to stop the Macedonians.

Scene 32 - Amar adresses his cavalry.

Scene 33 - Cavalry battle prior to the Hydaspes battle. Amar dies.

Scene 34 - Porus commemorates Amar in a monologue.

Scene 35 - Alexander sends Amar's body to Porus. Roxane says life is more important than death and she begs Porus to spare Alexander. Porus says that through him and Roxane the nations of India and Persia have become brother and sister forever.

Scene 36 - Giant drumming sessions give the signal for war. From all villages young men volunteer to join Porus' army.

Scene 37 - Alexander adresses his massive forces.

Scene 38 - Porus adresses his ramshackle levies.

Scene 39 - Advance of the Indian war elephants.

Scene 40 - Horribly realistic battle scenes; charging elephants pierced by spears and arrows; men trampled; terrible cavalry clashes.

Scene 41 - Porus on his war elephant kills Alexander's horse. Alexander lays helpless on the ground. Porus has another spear ready, but he decides not to kill Alexander.

Scene 42 - Alexander adresses his troops after victory.

Scene 43 - King Porus is lead before Alexander. Alexander says to Porus: "Did you not realise how great I am?" Porus answers: "I have never seen a king more deceitful than you." Seleucus interferes, but Porus says: "This is a discussion between kings. Shut your mouth." Alexander is so charmed by Porus' boldness that he immediately returns to Porus his freedom, his land and his army.

Scene 44 - A song to celebrate the Indian moral victory.

Scene 45 - Although the people want to celebrate, Porus orders that the palace should remain dark at night. Porus says to Roxane that because of his promise to her to save Alexander, the world will forever remember Alexander as the winner and Porus as the loser.

Scene 46 - Unrest in Alexander's army. It is rumoured half of all men died during the battle.

Scene 47 - Roxane appears in the Macedonian camp and adresses the army. She asks the soldiers to give up the war.

Scene 48 - Alexander asks Ambhi and Porus to join him in his conquest of the rest of India. Ambhi - as always - agrees, Porus refuses.

Scene 49 - The mutiny. The troops shout: "We want to go home." Alexander adresses the army, but the men shout that enemies like Porus are too powerful.

Scene 50 - Alexander - outraged - returns to his quarters.

Scene 51 - Monologue of Alexander. He claims he has never been defeated, except by his own troops.

Scene 52 - Alexander sacrifices to his 'father' Zeus. During the sacrifice an eagle falls dead from the sky. Zeus has refused the sacrifice.

Scene 53 - Reunion of Alexander and Roxane. Roxane comforts Alexander. Alexander announces retreat. The troops cheer.

Scene 54 - Cheerful song to celebrate the retreat. Roxane sings: "Life should be enjoyed with love." Alexander and Roxane leave on a ship.


The Indian 'Sikander' is a movie about the struggle of India to free itself from foreign occupation. It was filmed in 1941, just six years before the country gained independence. The parallel between Alexander's rule and British rule is very obvious. The message of the movie is that words can achieve more than violence - very much in the spirit of the resistance movement of Mahatma Gandhi. During World War II the film was banned from some British army theatres.

'Sikander' is historically quite accurate, except for some weird fantasy elements: the undercover adventures of Roxane, the odd presence of Aristotle and a few other strange scenes. The movie deals with the statement written by Plutarch, "Another consequence of this battle with Porus was that it blunted the edge of the Macedonians' courage and made them determined not to advance any further into India." In this respect the movie deals with one of the main themes of the history of Alexander. The battle scenes - shot without modern special effects - are very convincing. When you take this all into account the conclusion is that 'Sikander' recreates a past that - although not 100% accurate - is at least acceptable.

The movie portrays Alexander as an arrogant king whose success leans heavily on the courage and loyalty of his troops. Alexander is not an inspiration to his men - they are an inspiration to him. Alexander's opinions are easily influenced by anything Aristotle, Roxane or Porus say. Of all Macedonian officers only Seleucus and Eumenes appear as personalities. The real characters of the movie are Roxane, Porus and Ambhi. The story deals with their opinions and actions, while Alexander is just the danger lurking outside the gate. Ambhi, who wants to collaborate with the foreign oppressor, is weak and deceitful. Porus, who does not bow to the foreign power no matter what the consequences are, is honourable and brave.

Written by nick

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