Review: Ram Leela

Rating:

Just when you think you have seen it all, there comes a film that reminds you of how far the cinematic medium has come…And how far it can go in the right hands. Let’s face it – Bhansali is Bhansali. The visual imagery in all his earlier films – from ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’ to ‘Guzaarish’ is comparable with the best art from any field of aesthetics.

‘Ram-Leela’ goes to William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and comes away with a marvel of a tale of love-at-first-sight. Bhansali tilts his hat to mythology, folklore and the culture of community clashes with a blend of spontaneity and brilliance. What Bhansali does to Shakespeare’s tumultuous saga of sudden love between scions of two warring families, is beyond the imagination of all other living filmmakers of this country.

Bhansali’s Romeo and Juliet are unabashedly sexual in their body and verbal language. None of that traditional coyness and hesitation that characterises traditional courtship when Ram and Leela discuss one another’s vital statistics. He runs a porn video parlour. She comes from a family of gun-wielding criminals helmed by a steely matriarch (Supriya Pathak, brilliant). They are in love and they know lust is an integral component of their relationship.

Of the innumerable imperishable images that emerge from the film’s tumultuous tale of overnight passion, elopement, estrangement and reunion, I’d single out two. The first shows Barkha Bisht as Ranveer’s widowed sister-in-law running away from a gang of attackers. As she runs through the rugged hinterland, her brass vessel tumbles down-slope with her.

The other unforgettable image features Deepika, her hand bloodied after an injury, lying on the wet ground in a streak of blood. It reminded me of Aishwarya Rai’s slashed wrist creating a pond of blood with her hand in Bhansali’s ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’.

Fire and blood are never far away from Bhansali’s vision. Though there is plenty of bloodied images in ‘Ram-Leela’, the fire this time rages in the eyes of the characters.

The film’s visual poetry is so eloquent that you wonder at times if the filmmaker is a closet-painter. A closet-musician, Bhansali certainly is. His self-composed songs assisted by Monty Sharma’s evocative background score, perfectly capture the film’s impetuous mood.

The actors do the rest. Every performer surrenders to the tempestuous saga. While Supriya Pathak leads the supporting cast with a stellar performance, Richa Chadda, Abhimanyu Singh, Gulshan Devaiah and Sharad Kelkar are the portrait of pitch-perfect emoting.

‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela’ is the most vital romantic musical in the last five years. To experience it is to serenade the divine. To miss it would be a crime.