I loath 99.9% of Bollywood movies.
The Bollywood affliction of a sophomoric story with zero visual appeal, a bunch of jackasses going through the motions of acting, 4 lifeless songs, 1 awful item number, and 40-minutes of filming in London, NYC or Holland drives me to a devilish fury.
So I had much reason to be pleased with the Bollywood aberration Ram Leela.
The genius of Ram Leela director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is to Indianize and contemporarize Shakespeare’s eternal love saga Romeo and Juliet, and meld it with nonpareil visual imagery, decent acting and above average music.
And Bhansali does all this by working within the constraining framework of Bollywood where song, dance and love are de rigueur.
If there’s one element in Ram Leela that towers over everything else, it’s the eye-popping visual appeal.
Every frame, and SI means literally every frame, leaps out at you and is a visual feast so unlike any seen in an Indian film before (I wonder if Selvaraghavan’s upcoming Tamil film Irandam Ulagam can match the visual appeal of Ram Leela).
Indoor or outdoor, be it costumes, background setting or adroit use of lighting, Ram Leela is a stunning riot of colors that left yours truly bedazzled.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the rara avis Bollywood director who recognizes the basic wisdom that movies are, above all, a visual medium.
Ram Leela borrows from the essence of the bard’s Romeo and Juliet – the feuding families and star-crossed lovers – and embellishes it with the artifice of our Indian mythological hero Ram.
Given that the Rajadi and Sanera families have been at loggerheads for five centuries in a lawless Gujarat village on the Pakistan frontier, it’s safe to assume a romance between two members of the different families is a chronicle of death foretold.
No soppy, happy endings here. And I, for one, was glad of that.
Every member of the Ram Leela cast delivers a powerful performance.
Supriya Pathak, India’s Meryl Streep, is dynamite as the ruthless chief of the Sanera family who doesn’t hesitate to chop off the finger of even her daughter for defying her!
I found little to complain about the performances of the film’s lead pair Ranveer Singh (Ram) and Deepika Padukone (Leela). They seem to have a good, easy chemistry.
Of course, there’s stuff to complain about. Hey, it’s a Bollywood film after all!
Leela falling into her innamorato Ram’s arms, soon after her brother’s murder at his hands is insanity.
While the visual appeal in the film is strong, I am always disappointed with the absence of innovative camera angles in Indian movies. Ram Leela is no different in this respect.
And the item number featuring some two bit *&%^ was below par!
Its flaws notwithstanding, by Indian standards Ram Leela is a class act. No less!
Ram Leela is the one-in-a-thousand Bollywood movie worth watching, the best Hindi film I’ve seen in a decade.