Some movies have to be seen, period. You cannot make up your mind to watch them by reading a review or hearing a plot synopsis or by the presence of stellar cast and crew. After you watch them, you can love them or hate them (or be ambivalent about them). But you cannot ignore them. ‘Ram-Leela’ is one such movie.
I think the first time I ever felt compelled to say this to myself or anybody, was when I watched Mani Ratnam’s ‘Geethanjali’. When my friend asked me what the movies was all about I struggled a bit, because I did not want to say anything that would discourage him to watch the movie. So I chose not to dwell much about the morose theme or praise the excellent cinematography or the quirky dialogues or the terrific music of Ilayaraja. Instead I said you should watch it on the big screen. He did and we discussed in detail about the plot etc anyway 🙂
Ram-Leela such a kind of movie. One has to see and experience it on the big screen and take it from there. I did, so here is my blabber 🙂
Sanjay Leela Bhanshali once told in an interview (with Burkha Dutt of NDTV, I think) that he felt Chandramukhi’s love for Devdas was like that of Meera for Lord Krishna. In Ram-Leela he explores the carnal and less mystical love of Radha and Krishna and to portray their element of unfulfilled love, he uses Shakespeare’s Romeo-Juliet.
The lead pair of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, live up to Bhanshali’s vision and sizzle on screen, as two lost souls, who are lost to begin with in their alien worlds, find their love, struggle to save it and sacrifice it at the altar of reality. To a large extent, ‘Ram-Leela’ is about these two talented actors who keep you interested in the movie, even when it loses steam in the second half. Supriya Pathak stands out as another performer who plays a ‘Telengana Sakunthala’ kind of role, but chose to downplay it and she bowls you over with her subtle histrionics specially in the second-half of the movie.
Bhanshali’s story telling is incongruous and ambiguous at its best. He takes a zillion of liberties with the story telling and characterization (reminds you of the TV serials like ‘Pratigya’ ), remixing the milieu (camera enabled mobile phones and old cars; adult parlor business in this age of internet porn?; Murals instead of idols for worship?) and geography (where do these clans live, what are the conflict areas, how are they separated?; Yester-year ‘Thevar Magan’ did this splendidly).
As a music director, Bhanshali does a decent job (minus ‘Ishqyaun Dhiskyaun’ the song that reminds you of ‘Kissi disco mein jaaye’ from ‘Bade miya, chota miya’; Is the actor in the background mural supposed to be ‘Akshay Kumar’?’) and background score is pretty good in the scenes where Ram comes to meet with Leela in her house.
In the end, ‘Ram-Leela’ is a product of Bhanshali’s vision, and if you are sucked into it, the movie will hold your interest in the first half and parts of second half. Special mention for Eros Marketing team that packaged this movie pretty well (with no mention of ‘Romeo-Juliet’ in the campaign) and generated the right kind of interest around the lead-pair.