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RAM-LEELA - Bhansali's another self-obsessed film, which is visually stunning with few notable performances but how many times I am supposed to watch the same story again & again. (Review By Bobby Sing)

15 Nov, 2013 | Movie Reviews / 2013 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / R

In the last few years, particularly after debacles such as Saawariya & Guzaarish, the works of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali are being studied from extremely diverse angles by two different sections of viewers quite interestingly. Where one set of audience considers him to be a sheer genius and a master of his art with a great sense of music, the other simply considers him an over-rated director who has mostly worked on inspired projects and that too stressing more on their looks, feel, colours and art department rather than the script and the much required entertainment factor.
Honestly, I also consider myself to be the part of this second group keeping in mind his last two films and my belief got strengthened further after watching his latest RAM-LEELA which remains another self-obsessed, colourful but over-stuffed painting on the celluloid with some exceptional brush strokes failing to generate any huge impact on the viewer in totality. So yes, as expected (and as usual) this new SLB-Leela is again full of sparkling colours, stunning visuals, few dream like sets with peacocks and trees, an intense drama, actors trying to get deep into the skin of their characters, some melodious tracks and a forcibly enjoyable chemistry between the lead characters undoubtedly. But yet in the end, it all seems to be completely artificial, disoriented, overblown and excessive in nature as I felt, failing to make any kind of direct emotional connection with the viewer watching it passionately.
The film does have its worth watching moments which are mostly to be found in its first half watching the lead pair together doing their lusty sexual acts (questionably) portrayed as Eternal LOVE. But post intermission it all fizzles out drastically and the director tries to add too many unconvincing twists and turns taking it to an unnerving end sadly. No doubt few magical moments do come in at various intervals, consolidating the director’s famous status in the industry. But regrettably they are not something fresh or path-breaking, since either they remind you of a song sequence of his mega hit “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” or of a powerful scene of “Devdas” giving you a seen before kind of feel, repeatedly. The soundtrack too is able to impress only partially with a few good tracks in the initial reels and as the film progresses their excessive use starts becoming annoying, particularly in the second half.
To say the truth, being a powerful love story as per its theme, I found the famous “Bhansali Feel of Love” also missing in the film replaced by lust, sex and double meaning dialogues quite surprisingly. For instance, I may sound to be an ‘old timer’ but I don’t think a girl can easily come forward and give a straight smooch to a boy if he looks good and of her own type just in the first meeting itself in a public place. Moreover the way both the boy and girl start rolling over each other on the bed with several kisses one after another in their second meeting only…………, for me it wasn’t anything close to ‘Pure Love’ but only Lust, Sex or Body Hunger and nothing else.
Interestingly such depiction of love was not there in any of Bhansali’s earlier films. The director never showed his love birds in this kind of sexy, lusty avatars ever before. Hence undoubtedly this time Bhansali is more interested in reaching the masses with cheap insertions of a blue film parlour, David Dhawan like rhyming dialogues, guns, bullets, murders, rape attempts and bloodbath, may be in a state of desperation. Yes, he begins well with an exceptional sequence of rivalry between two groups in the first scene and then handles another sequence depicting the same with a superb camerawork & vision. But actually this isn’t a Bhansali genre at all and once the love birds get separated, going into the violent mood, the film falls flat with everyone behaving in a confusing manner not suiting their actual character as defined in the first hour.
Putting it differently, Bhansali’s visionary execution both as a director and art-director can easily be seen & applauded in many individual sequences of RAM-LEELA. But putting them all together in a 150+ minutes of film, doesn’t make a very entertaining venture, majorly because of a pretty weak second half (read screenplay) and a more than required length as usual, full of many unwanted songs coming one after another. In fact at times you realise that the director is unnecessarily trying to make his every frame a masterpiece with all forcibly stuffed details and over the top drama. And probably that is the reason why one doesn’t feel like having a direct connect with the characters as felt in Bhansali’s first few films in his early days.
In the performance section, the actors simply surrender themselves to the vision of their director and the three winners coming out of entire cast are Deepika, Supriya Pathak, and Richa Chadda unarguably. However even their performances keep varying between brilliant and superficial with some visible character differences in both the halves. Following the above are Abhimanyu Singh, Gulshan Devaiah, Sharad Kelkar and Barkha Bisht who play their parts well but the director should have given more mileage to Richa Chadda alone, who had the capability to bring that much needed explosion in the end. Along with these good performances there are some pretty ordinary ones too including Raza Murad, Homi Wadia and the deliberately added poor item number of Priyanka Chopra.
Talking about the lead pair, Deepika once again scores over her hero and she even goes shockingly bold this time as instructed by the so called love-guru i.e. SLB. She looks absolutely stunning in those revealing traditional dresses but her written character hasn’t got that desired depth of a pure selfless lover towards the end. Ranveer on the other hand, doesn’t offer something new, as he plays the same old flirty lover boy with the only difference of his Rajasthani attire and nothing else. So in terms of a love-couple also, you are not given anything new to watch, except their extreme eagerness to feel each other’s body instead of reaching the hearts.
Musically, RAM-LEELA has few well-composed and beautifully designed songs (in the first half) like “Lahu Munh Laga Gaya” and “Tattad Tattad”. But post Saawariya, SLB’s music has surely lost that magical feel to a great extent, with the director composing himself and not taking the services of the available musicians. Accompanying the songs, it has a fine background score, a splendid cinematography and a great art direction too bringing alive the vision of its director wonderfully. But I really wish this was all presented through a great script too with something novel to share.
Regarding the controversy around its title.

Revealing the truth, SLB’s film has nothing to do with either Lord Ram or his sacred Leela at all. So the director had a clear intention of using the phrase “RAM-LEELA” for his film’s instant publicity alone and all this controversy could have been easily avoided by using any other name with a regional touch. Moreover in the present sensitive times, there is no need of getting involved in such religiously objectionable phrases leading to further complications when they have nothing to do with your actual theme of the film and its storyline. But as they say, positive or negative, a film gets benefited by any kind of publicity, which seems to be the only reason of keeping this controversial title by the makers in all possibilities.

Regarding the over-used subject of Shakespeare’s “Romeo-Juliet”.

I remember watching QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK when I was in school and then few other films too with the same theme. Plus just recently there was not one but two films made on the same subject namely ISHAQZAADE & ISSAQ, which forces me to think that perhaps except Vishal Bhardwaj, very few have read the other classics of William Shakespeare in reality in our own Bollywood. And that might be the reason why they repeatedly pick the same old, over-used Romeo-Juliet again & again to bore the innocent audience quite arrogantly.
However there is one more reason which comes to my mind regarding the use of this same theme again and that is the ‘Fear of Rejection’. Because if a director has reached a stature of Sanjay Leela Bhansali then ideally he should feel free and interested in discovering new stories or subjects for his loyal viewers boldly. But ignoring the fact, when he goes on to make a big film with such a wide canvas and lavish budget on the same rotten storyline used several times before then he is surely doing this out of his fear of rejection and doesn’t want to try something experimental moving away from any tried and tested formula in the trade.
Interestingly though hugely inspired, but almost all his films since KHAMOSHI had something new to offer, which eventually did play a substantial role to build up the director’s current reputed status in the industry. But then why SLB picked this ‘too old & over-tried’ story to tell in a different style raises many bigger doubts in my mind about his future projects too.
Anyway, for me CINEMA means “The Art of Storytelling” and if a film hasn’t got a new or interestingly fresh story to tell then it is quite a waste of time despite all the great visuals, drama, music, performances and execution. To elaborate on the same, we have a small life here to live on this planet with a limited capability to read or know all the worth studying literature of the world. So we need the medium of cinema to introduce us to many unknown and unexplored gems written within as well as out of the country following a wider vision. And that is exactly what I search for while watching every new film coming my way in any form.
Moreover this reminds me a very thoughtful quote of the maestro SATYAJIT RAY about the huge treasure lying untouched in our own Indian Literature which would be a perfect ending to this review for all like-minded friends here……………wherein he says,
"The raw material of cinema is life itself. It is incredible that a country which has inspired so much painting, music and poetry should fail to move the film maker. He has only to keep his eyes open, and his ears. Let him do so.”
But unfortunately we are still only interested in re-visiting the same stories again and again due to the over-commercialization of art and a constant fear of rejection. So with a hope that these reputed film-makers of our industry would soon find their old courage back, I can only recommend RAM-LEELA to the viewers who are more interested in just the bodies and not their souls.

Rating : 2 / 5           

Tags : Ramleela Review By Bobby Sing, Ramlila Review By Bobby Sing, Bhansali's Ramleelam, Inspired from Romeo Juliet, New Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews at bobbyta
15 Nov 2013 / Comments ( 8 )
amit joshi

Today I saw the film and I am totally agree with you. The film has no soul.

I always wonder why cant Bhansali, Sajid Khan, Farah Khan or Indra Kumar make a good film whereas they have all the resources means budget, cast crew or technical capability. Then in one of discussion with my friend I came to a conclusion which might hurt some people or they can be totally disagree with me

In big boss I saw Arman Kohli & Tanisha, I wonder what the hell they are doing here ? They could hire a good writer, could hire a good director for them, they had all the connection in the industry & money too, why Uday Chopra attracted Jugal Hansraj for Pyaar Impossible, why didn\'t he invested his money to a good writer (Jaideep Sahni or someone else) or good director to write a good role for his comeback film, he was a first time writer, but was so confident that he wrote the story& screenplay himself.... why ?

I just want to say that God doesn\'t give sense to everyone, he did give visualization (art direction) capability to Bhansali but he didn\'t give Bhansali the art of story telling but Bhansali is unaware of this fact, he thinks that he has a powerful story to tell, they are so arrogant or self obsessed that they cant trust good writers of industry.

Aamir khan & Vidhu Vinod is exceptional case they unites team of good directors & writers & delivers good result. on the contrary SRK who is so self obsessed that he just chose those directors in recent times who can portray him LARGER THAN LIFE.

So Bhansali in my opinion is self obsessed person, like late. MF Hussain who once made \'Meenakshi a tale of 3 cities\' & it was at par with Bhansali\'s Art Capabilty, amazing shots were there with zero story. I asked to myself why cant he associate with good directors or writers ? together they can make wonders but someone told me that world consider him a legend & a legend will not listen to anyone.

Bobby Sing

Yes Amit, your are very right that instead of investing and giving more time to the writing we actually believe in a better look, feel and packaging to sell it as a marketing product.
But every revolution has to come from the consumers or the end-user and it has never been there from the producers.
So till we keep on accepting it, the trend will continue and there is no stopping to that.

However I am glad that you were actually looking for the soul which was not to be found anywhere in the so called RAM-LEELA.

Amit Joshi

And I am glad to have a true visionary like you around me......Our body never saw each other but I always think my soul has some connection with you :)

Thanks for being there.

Amit Joshi

Bobby Sing

I am truly honored, thankful and feel the same here too Amit.
Stay connected and Stay Blessed Always.


Vikas Saitya

Dear Bobby

This is first time that I have to consider that "Should I leave the theatre midway?"
It is a pathetic trash movie where there is zero connectivity, whatsoever any sense between two scene & illlogical character buildup.

I think SLB needs psychatrist to say the least, sorry for the harsh word, but he should be banned from filmaking , just to extract money from public is there sole criteria it maye be , by cheating, (here using name of movie)

Even a prostitute is better from this type of filmmaker, as one get which is promised
But here you feel robbed of your time, energy, money & trust.
(Top of that money circus is TOI - HAD GIVEN 5 STAR TO THE MOVIE)

If I am not wrong, in last fifteen years this is only the third time 1) Satya 2) Black Friday


Bobby Sing

Enjoyed reading your honest views Vikas for the movie and yes it might get liked, watched by many.
But for all like-minded friends, it was nothing much to cheer at all.

(However do let me know about your references of SATYA and BLACK FRIDAY........Why you have quoted these names here?)


Agree completely with the review.
But I object to the previous comment which says SRK only does films which show him larger than life. That is false except Don 2.
SRK is the only top star who doesn\'t do one - man army masala roles (even his last film , it doesn\'t happen before the climax and he was beaten and bruised there ) , he also allows his heroines to out act himself from time to time.
I barely recall Aamir and Salman\'s movie heroines having prominent roles for many years now.
And Aamir is also self-obsessed or he won\'t be \'perfectionist\'.
Bobby Sing

Hi Chris,
Thanks for sharing your views about RAM LEELA.

Regarding the other issue, as I see it SRK does try to break through at times but then he goes with it half heartedly relying on some wrong choices made as per the directors.
Yes he gives more bigger roles and chances to prove their art to his female leads unarguably and also sees that their names come first in the titles since last few years. 
But as I have said in one of my old reviews, an actor of this stature has a certain responsibility to give us something fresh as they can easily afford to do so....Sadly very few of the big stars are willing to do the same but then thats the widely known oldest trend of Bollywood since decades.


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