Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ram Leela 

Guns And Raunch

It happens with all Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films—they are extravagant, flamboyant, loud, the unoriginal content packaged into Incredible India ad style visuals.

In Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela, he is at least comfortable with the setting—Kutch.  The reds and blacks of the Rann twirl in ecstasy as he choreographs vigorous dance numbers, blending aesthetic ethic chic with pelvis-thrusting vulgarity.

Shakespeare gets credit for Romeo And Juliet inspiration, but Bhansali takes the story into his own tracks turning Kutch into a blood-soaked fairy land in which the two criminal clans the Rajadis and Sanedas battle for supremacy. This one’s closer to Ishaqzaade, Issaq and Baz Luhrman’sRomeo And Juliet than the classic romantic tragedy. The biggest problem with this beautifully shot (Ravi Varman) film with its gorgeous design (Wasiq Khan), is that it doesn’t give the viewer a sense of impending doom, and the innocence of young love is totally lost when Romeo is a philandering lout (he runs a porno parlour!) and Juliet is a tarty wench.

Till Ram (Ranveer Singh) and Leela (Deepika Padukone) meet and fall instantly in lust, the film has energy and humour. The splendor of the sets and costumes is remarkable, and there are the typical Bhansali favourite shots-- hair, dupattas and ghaghras flying and swirling in slow motion.

Then Ram and Leela are separated and become leaders of their clans—there is a corrupt cop, jealous cousin and duplicitous friends cluttering the narrative, but no comfort of familiarity; no nurse, no priest and, frankly too much killing and bloodshed for this to be a film about true love ending centuries of enmity.

Bhansali aims to please the senses and occasionally panders to the baser instincts, but overlooks the emotions. Not once amidst the riot of colours, cacophony of drums and bullets, do you feel for any of the characters or weep for the star-crossed lovers.

The actors are all in bright costumes, chunky jewellery and kohled-eyes, displaying a beauty and robustness that is attractive, but the narration of the story is too tangled and ultimately flat. With an interesting supporting cast—Supriya Pathak as the domineering matriarch, Richa Chadha as Leela’s widowed by sympathetic sister-in-law and Gulshan Devaiah as her scheming cousin—doing very little,  the lead pair Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone get to sizzle on screen, their toned bodies getting as much, or more, attention as their faces. Both revel in the sheer physicality of their romance breaking out of the coyness usually allotted to young lovers; they don’t shy away from raunch, which doesn’t necessarily add to the intensity of the romance, but will probably help get in a young crowd into the multiplexes.


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