November 18, 2013

Ram-Leela: in Bhansalicolor at a theater near you

Quick, how do you know something is a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie? Any of the below:
1. 30 colours per frame, of which about 15 are different shades of red.
2. Someone has to scream out the hero's name, again and again and again.
3. Neither lead actor has a profession of any kind, and yet, no one is poor.

I had to search very hard to find a poster where I didn't have to look at Ranveer Singh's bare torso, so this is what I have. Sorry. 

Watch Ram-Leela (sorry, 'Goliyon Ki Raasleela... Ram-Leela', a throwback to that hilarious sequence in Delhi Belly where Anusha says... "I hate you... like I love you... like I love you in brackets"). Know, once and for all, that nothing good can come of casting Ranveer Singh and all his abs (I mean it, literally all his abs, down to the last one) in a movie.

But let's not blame this on Ranveer Singh alone. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a rich history of extracting excruciating performances for fairly passable actors (Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, that man who played Chunnilal in the travesty named Devdas and is now relegated to playing Aamir Khan's father [wtf?], and many others).

The story is about 2 youngsters who fall in love (lust? hard to tell with the amount of facial hair Ranveer Singh has) with each other in the space of about 5 minutes and then waste about 2.5 hours of your day in trying to get with each other. Simply put, as an audience member, it becomes extremely difficult to give a flying you-know-what about the trials and tribulations of brats who have no human angle except really, really, wanting to be with each other.
I am a Hansa, and that's a Ranveer, no clothes as usual.

Why are they having a tough time? Because their families hate each other and are constantly at war (guns blazing). Who else is in the movie? There's Supriya Pathak, looking like this for no reason - and still being the best thing in the movie. There's Richa Chadda, mostly wasted. Abhimanyu Singh, who dies early on and another guy who looks just like him and therefore dies soon after (to save you the confusion).

As one song melts into dramatic crisis scene melts into another song, over and over, you begin to reflect on life, its meaning, and the money you paid to watch this, which is never coming back to you.

You begin to wonder if these two trigger-happy people who live in an unreal world somewhere between Gujarat and La-la-land will ever just stop pointing their guns at each other and take some time off from being ridiculously stupid? You wonder how Holi and Navratri can fall in the same month, just as you wonder how you can be shot one day and start walking like nothing happened, 3 days later.

You wonder why SLB can't seem to get enough of this obsession with actresses, with lamps, and with actresses holding lamps and dancing about. You wonder why Ranveer Singh doesn't ever reach a point of being fully clothed. You wonder what exactly Priyanka Chopra is doing with her career.

And while you're willing to give him the artistic licence to put peacocks (or a reference to them) in every fifth frame, you begin to wonder if there's a need to freeze to slow-mo every time:
a) someone's foot lands on the ground
b) drops of water fly
c) a bottle breaks (and believe me, about 68 bottles of varying colours break, in the course of the movie)

In fact, if you remove the bottle breaking, pointless dancing and superfluous (if not all) gun-firing from this 2.5 hour movie, you'd be left with about 1 hour of fairly tolerable footage. Unfortunately though you will have no such luck.

After sitting through Devdas, I'd begun to believe that he could only improve from that. Guzaarish felt like 10 steps forward from all his previous movies... but Ram-Leela is about 20 steps back.

At the end of the day, of course, it's all subjective.
Like films about violence in the hinterland? Watch Gangs of Wasseypur.
Like musicals and love stories? Watch any Bollywood movie.
Like Deepika Padukone, hell, there's about 10 fairly tolerable films from the recent past that you can watch.
If you like Ranveer Singh... you have my sympathies. This too shall pass.
If, however, you've heard of all the hype surrounding the amazingly creative mind of Sanjay Bhansali and you believe that there exists a world in an Indian village where 2 mob bosses can shake hands, click a selfie and say "Twitter pe jaayega"... you really, really should watch Goliyon ki Raasleela (Ram-Leela)... Ram-Leela brackets mein.

(I'm kidding. It's not actually in brackets. Should've been, though.)


Unknown said...

I promised myself never again to watch a SLB movie after the desecration of Devdaas. I gave a miss to everything SLB since Devdaas. Reading your review, I am proud of my decision, and resolve to stick to it.
I am yet to get over the Devdaas shock , 12 years down the line and jump out of my skin whenever someone says "isshh" (which is about 100 times a day if you are a Bong), so you can understand !!!

Anonymous said...

Ram-Leela is one of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's finest epics. For the download links, here it goes.
Ram-Leela (Hindi Movie)