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‘Big Hit’ Bhansali does it again!

Ram-Leela*** : Starring: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Supriya Pathak

‘Big Hit’ Bhansali does it again!

 

Ram-Leela***
Starring: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Supriya Pathak
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Tagline: Goliyon Ki Raasleela
Once upon a time, there was a village in Indian Gujarat named Ranjaar, where the people carried guns and were passionate about everything they did – be it killing their enemies, loving their women or celebrating religious festivals. If you add the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ angle to this, you get Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram-Leela, a love story about Ram and Leela, born in two warring communities – the Gujarati versions of the Montagues and Capulets – at loggerheads for five centuries!

What the fuss is all about…
Ram (Ranveer Singh) falls in love with Leela (Deepika Padukone) and the two decide to elope after sharing everything from vows to ‘wows’! But the high-on-steroid first half gains sobriety after the interval, and Ram-Leela becomes interesting, ending up as a love story at par with Aamir Khan-Juhi Chawla starrer Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak!
The agent of zalim samaaj in this flick has been played by Supriya Pathak, who in the past was known more for her sisterly roles (Jhooti, Shahenshah) rather than her somber movies (Bazaar, Kalyug). Here she plays Leela’s mother and the community’s godmother who would rather cut off the finger of her daughter than be challenged by her (errr, she does that in the movie!). But the problem with all this remains – it has all been done before in one movie or another, nahi?

What I was expecting…
Since it was inspired by William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo & Juliet, I was expecting a sad ending, but was least prepared for the slow pace of the narration and the clumsy plot that seemed to have been approved in haste by the director. The first half has the leading pair falling in love madly, while after the interval, they seem to have traded love for war, and all hell breaks loose! With a chaotic narrative like that, I was least bothered by the body count or the fact that a full-grown man ran after a kid at the start of the movie, just because the latter couldn’t control the direction of his pee!
As for the larger-than-life dance numbers, I was expecting an extravaganza of colours and costumes, and that’s exactly what I got. If Priyanka Chopra was exotic in her item number, Deepika Padukone was gorgeous in whatever she did – be it dancing like a dream, delivering dialogues with conviction or loving Ram who is always available, 24/7! Ranveer Singh must be commended for his mature performance in the second half, and no one can point out that it is only his fourth outing in Bollywood (yes it is!).

What I was not expecting…
The alpha male Ranveer Singh portrayed in the movie was a mixture of Dharmendra, Dilip Kumar and Salman Khan! When he was angry, he was Dharmendra (the ‘tera khoon pi jaoonga, kaminay’ sort!), he turned romantic ala Dilip Kumar (the tree climbing was taken from Aan!) and when he was happy, he was Salman Khan (lack of clothes and that buffed up physique)!
The movie takes place in the modern world yet there was hardly a gadget in sight except the mobile phone that is integral to the story. The hero runs an adult movie business (also very integral!) while there is little mention of computers and internet (Twitter is mentioned once!) for no reason. There was a scene in which the heroine recites rhyming SMSes from her man but they seemed to have been forwarded messages from Faraz (yes, that one!) rather than from someone deeply in love!
The animosity between the two communities is slight in the first half and considerably harsh in the second, and at times, it is not even there! What would you say if I told you that Ram could enter Leela’s bedroom anytime he wanted, which was strange considering the members of the two communities hated the mere sight of one another!
Wait … there is more. Would a dancer have sung ‘Romeo Wants Juliet wants Romeo wants Juliet’ in front of Romeo after the two had been separated from each other? Obviously not! Then why were the lyrics of the super hot Priyanka Chopra item number ‘Ram Chahay Leela Chahay Leela Chahay Raam’? Priyanka’s sizzling dance steps and ‘other accessories’ seems to have made people forget but why did she remind the love-stricken ‘Don’ about his lady love is confusing, very confusing!

What I did experience …
The word ‘grandeur’ can describe the sets, the costumes and the situation where Ram Leela takes place. If there are guns, they are innumerable; if there is violence, then there is no stopping; and if there is sex, there is no shortage of it! Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has always been known for his larger than life canvasses and Ram-Leela is no different. He has the leading lady with a perfect figure, a leading man with a superb physique and he lets them set the screen on fire with magnificent performances and their red-hot chemistry (they are just friends in real life, you see)!
The film’s highlight is the visually dazzling cinematography by Ravi Varman who keeps the viewers engrossed in colours that are seldom seen in Bollywood movies (except of course in Bhansali’s productions!). The frame is picture perfect, the costumes are nothing short of being glamorous and the sets are rich, gigantic and real. With this kind of look and feel, whenever the leading pair is together, there was an overflow of love that oozed from the screen and captivated the viewers. At times they seemed ‘extremely desperate’, but that’s my assessment, people in love know no boundaries!

What I will never forget …
Ram-Leela is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s second film as a musician after Guzarish and this time, he delivers a winner. The music seems inspired from the compositions of A.R. Rehman (and Ismail Darbar) as it reminds one of Bhansali’s earlier works – Shail Hada’s ‘Lahu Muun Lag Gaya’ follows the same pattern as Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’s ‘Aankhon Ki Gustakhyan’ and ‘Chand Chupa’ which were nothing short of brilliant! ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’ reminds one of ‘Doli Taro Dhol Baje’ but here, Shreya Ghoshal is as unrecognizable as you could imagine. Way to go lady!
‘Ang Laga De’ by Aditi Paul and Shail Hada is full of love (and Gujrati culture!); the very classical ‘Laal Ishq’ captures the mood where Arijit Singh’s rendition takes you back in time while ‘Dhoop’ is an all-out Shreya Ghoshal number where her pleasant vocals and the superb composition combine to deliver a chartbuster.
And then there was Aditya Narayan who was as smooth as his dad Udit Narayan was in his countless hit numbers. In the film’s main male song ‘Tattad Tattad’, he reminds you of Udit whereas in ‘Ishqyaun Dhishqyaun’, you are reminded of Govinda-esque songs ‘Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare’ and ‘Kisi Disco Main Jayen’! The multi-talented Aditya seems to have inherited his father’s vocal chords as well, and one can predict a bright future for him where he will rule the airwaves just like Papa the Great! And if you set aside the lyrics, Bhoomi Trivedi’s ‘Ram Chahay Leela’ is the most foot-tapping of all numbers in the movie.

Watch it for the ‘Bhansali’ touch!
When you are madly in love, you are desperate and Deepika and Ranveer depicted that desperation perfectly. At times it seemed too much but then, all is fair in love and war, isn’t it? Deepika is undoubtedly the reigning queen of Bollywood (with hits like Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Chennai Express this year) and she proves her mettle here again by being the woman Ram desires.
Yes, Ram-Leela was slow but artistic work is like that; yes, it has its erotic moments but the A ratings meant you were stepping into the world of passion; and yes, it would get the most number of awards (as always) simply because it has the Bhansali touch! Now what award seems to be missing from the Bhansali collection? The music may seem a nice addition and who knows, he might bag that one as well! The colours are there, the attention to detail is present and above all, the chemistry between the lead pair will set the screen on fire. Move aside Krrish 3, come to a halt Chennai Express, Sanjay Leela Bhansali will sweep the awards, and get to bring his mother (and other relatives) on stage to receive the trophy!

– Omair Alavi

*CINEMATIC SUICIDE
**FORGETTABLE
***WATCHABLE
****COLLECTIBLE
*****AWARD-WORTHY

Omair Alavi works for Geo TV and can be contacted at [email protected]

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