Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ramleela Review

Must confess, Ramleela didn't appeal to me much through its trailers, promos and music album, overall. Reason being, it not only appeared tackily glossed on the small screen but those colors looked fake enough to prick my eyes. To my surprise, no such issues bothered me while watching the film on the big screen. In fact, it was a visual treat, thanks to its setting and arts (trademark Bhansali).

Set in a fictional Ranjaar, Bhansali roots it to the barren lands and tradition of Gujarat to recreate Bard's Romeo-Juliet with the rival feuds as Rajadis and Sanedas dealing in arms and drug smuggling into that region. This setting, no matter how artistically detailed, right from those shop hoardings to Ranveer's underwear that makes appearance in his entry song, is obviously, not as realistic as Ishaqzaade (last year's Romeo-Juliet adaption) neither a dreamy escape like Bhansali's Saawariya. It is an escapist somewhere between the two. They do garba on a recent cult Gujarati song (Bhala Mori Rama), but with guns on the beats. Though it looks like a rural, the 'gun power' there has seemingly resided the conservatism, especially among the women: they fantasize the muscular body of the hero, they carry guns and use them freely. But all this seems to be forgotten as we approach the climax, when a female of a clan talks about their vulnerability and ignorance in their age-old row to the head lady of the opposite clan (powerful Supriya Pathak).

With that production design, Bhansali almost manages to create his own world right there in. But the characters in it are hardly inflicted by that world. They are rooted and suited for what Indian audience would love to see on screen... that heroic entry, that fly-in-the-air action, those (amazingly choreographed) dance sequences. Take this characters out and put them into any other world (minus their traditional costumes, of course), would anything change much? Not really. These visuals are just an overcoat to the story under which you feel good, momentarily though. For how long does it stay on your mind, anyway? Only if those visuals were used for storytelling...

What stays after, is the essence and the rawness of the chemistry between the leads, here... pure and passionate. However, the film itself couldn't hold that intensity after the interval. I was looking for an indulgent transition of the lovers but the director/writer kept me interested in their actions, politics and contrived-for-metaphor navratri/dasshera.  

The film works altogether on a different level with its lyrical dialogues and songs, from Lahu Muh Lag Gaya to Laal Ishq. These songs come out from the instant reaction to each other. What they live into, when spent a fun and frolic moment together, is a Govinda-Karishma of the '90s style Ishqyaun Dhishqyaun, which finds a mention in the climax later and can also be read on the shutter of Ram's porn video store, which ironical to the climax, is named as 'Happy Endings'!

P.S.: Can we please call this film its original title RamLeela, and not Goliyon ki blah blah whatever?

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