The spectacular extravaganza from Sanjay Leela Bhansali Ram-Leela (or rather Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela to call it by its proper name) released today. This adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tale Romeo & Juliet starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in the lead roles, is in many ways a movie worth watching, but in others it makes you long for what could have been. I’m going with 3 stars for this Ram-Leela review – albeit for reasons other than the story it tells.
Rating – ***
Film – Ramleela (Release date-15 November 2013)
Starring – Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Richa Chaddha, Gulshan Devaiah, Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh, Supriya Pathak, Barkha Bisht Sengupta, Sharad Kelkar, and Prinyanka Chopra in a special appearance.
Producer –Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kishore Lulla
Director – Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Story/Screenplay – Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Siddharth-Garima
Music – Monty Sharma, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
The story is of course that of a doomed lovers set against the backdrop of trigger happy feuding clans that enjoy a good gun fight at the smallest of provocations. When the two young people meet, it is a case of lust at first sight and after some amount of wordless interplay of facial expressions; it is she who yanks him in for their first kiss.
Keeping true to the original story, the enmity between the clans is cemented by the inadvertent killing of the respective brothers of both the protagonists. Also true to the original is the desperate yearning of the lovers for each other in the face of violent opposition from their families seeking to keep them apart. There are the mandatory balcony scenes with the knocking on the door as the couple canoodles as well.
Where Ram-Leela Really Works
As soon as the opening titles come on against a red, red, background, one is instantly captivated by the music. The music – authentic derivations from traditional Garbas and featuring the distinctive dohas that precede the main song in Gujarat folk music – with modern arrangements and melodious compositions is very good. Even if the songs do at time seem forced into the narrative, the music strikes just the right chord and the dances are beautiful too.
Then there is the lead pair – gorgeous looking, they have crackling great chemistry between them and come together uninhibitedly – the pairing makes for some spontaneous combustion on the screen. Ranveer Singh is certainly not shy about showing off his washboard abs and he does so repeatedly through the film. Deepika is gorgeous, sensuous, uninhibited and passionate.
The film is worth the watch just for the passion that seems to leap out at you from the screen. Supriya Pathak, in her interpretation of her character as the slightly out there matriarch of her clan does a terrific job and Richa Chadhha as Raseela is excellent too.
Then there are the spectacular costumes – traditional Gujarati outfits with stunning embellishments – embroidery, mirror work, bandhej, and vibrantly contrasting colors. And some dramatic locales too there; so the entire movie is a visual feast.
Where Ram-Leela Doesn’t Work
The first half of the film is a fair interpretation of the bard’s original tragedy but the second half is a rather incoherent, meandering narrative that is at times difficult to make sense of. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has also tried to send a message about not tolerating violence against women – the message cannot be sent out often enough and strongly enough but as a plot diversion within the story of Ram-Leela it seemed a little forced.
The reasons for the star crossed lovers to remain apart somehow never seemed adequate. For lovers who are so desperate to be together, the two seemed to be making precious little effort to be together; apart from announcing to all and sundry that they had been married.
There are some plot glitches too – Leela has her ring finger chopped off by her own mother – a little later we see that Ram also has his finger similarly chopped off. There is no explanation for the whys and wherefores of this. Quite simply a more straight forward story with fewer angles and diversions would have worked better. Some random characters are introduced in the very last bit of the movie which was just odd.
The movie digresses into song at the least excuse (even an excuse as flimsy as flashing an admittedly spectacular male torso); the item song featuring Prinyanka Chopra is entirely superfluous. There is also is a lot of needless violence in the film. And pray where is this supposed village in Gujarat that sells guns of all shapes and sizes, where people drink so much and so openly that the weapon of choice for a minor inter-clan skirmish is generally a few hundred beer bottles being flung around with gay abandon!
If you go and watch Ram-Leela (I certainly suggest that you do) expect a gorgeous, entertaining, melodramatic, over the top, Hindi film. Just don’t go expecting realism. The film could have been terrific had it been half an hour shorter, with fewer plot digressions, clearer reasons for the clan feud and a slightly more plausible, coherent story.
By – Reena Daruwalla
Image courtesy – Wikipedia