20 November, 2013

Ram Leela : Shakespeare raped somewhere in Gujarat

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s (SLB) film Ram Leela has us going to the absolute first principles of the cinematic experience and questioning it.  What is Cinema ? 
  • Silk in the Dirty Picture defines it by saying Cinema is only three words “Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment”. Well SLB’s movie was not that...so we go to the next definition
  • Cinema should be meaningful: In this definition a feature film would have a certain story, a rhythm a flow in the dialogues or timelines.... Well SLB’s movie was not that either...so we go on to the next one
  • Cinema is about Realism: Like the art films of the 70’s .... SLB’s movie was also not that at all by a far stretch...so again we are pushed to the next definition
  • Cinema is/should/can be Artistic : Garish explosions of colour in various shades of Red, totally fantastic sets which even a showman like Raj Kapoor only put in a dream sequence make a part of everyday ethos...no its Arabian Nights meet Japanese advertising meet Kathiawad... good art does carry with it a coherence which is absent here ...SLB’s movie is not Art either are there any more categories whose definitions are left ?
  • Documentary Cinema, Short Film, Meaningful cinema, Good cinema, Bad cinema, Average cinema, which one exactly is this,  I asked myself and then it became apparent, truly apparent. 
This is "the revenge of the nerd". SLB is taking revenge on films, film making and film folk by taking their money and packaging it just so that it seems outwardly like a motion picture but instead is a mindless soul destroying experience. His greater crime, dragging William Shakespeare into this muck. Now William Shakespeare is the one author who has been most favoured by filmmakers, playwrights across the world for a story inspiration. His writing has been interpreted sometimes ordinarily, sometimes tolerably and sometimes superbly but it has always been his work. SLB in Ram Leela rapes Shakespeare himself. Coming out of the theatre, I was completely numbed...could see Billy the Bard otherwise a benign fellow who smiles in black and white from his frock collared photograph looking reproachfully at me...with hurt eyes, his self destroyed...why did he (SLB) do this to me? Have I ever done anything bad to this fellow?  I had no answer to give this impressive author. 

SLB says this movie is his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. It sketchily creates that skeleton and then bends it, finally crushing it. Romeo Juliet by Shakespeare one line synopsis is 'a romantic tale of two star crossed lovers from opposing factions who die'. SLB’s sets are a confluence of the remnants of the Kendall Shakespeare company’s set pieces, all the stuff in Philip Antiques-Colaba, crowded into one frame thrown in with a peacock who is also killed in a bizarre invite. Shades are pastel when its romantic and red when guns, bullets and ghagras fly most of the other time. Houses in this mythical town can’t have roofs because for 500 years people have drawn out handmade guns and automatic weapons and fired in the air wherever they are standing or at each other. Millions of bullets fly and only 5 people get hit and die, just so you also know that bullets kill, else you would have gone out and wanted a gun for yourself. People here fire bullets randomly, make obscene pelvic thrusts, break into a song , fire more bullets, Ram and Leela are into each others mouths, we have extreme close ups of the lead actors till we see the pores on their noses, their waists, shadows on chiseled bodies in unspoken places, more songs & just quite as suddenly a few more bullets later the movie mercifully ends.

 So we have a Ram’eo and Leela’iet in Ranveer and Deepika who valiantly try and make this motion picture watchable for whatever it is worth, they certainly exude a raw sex appeal but it is not enough. The other star cast has Supriya Pathak, Gulshan Devaiyaah, Abhimanyu Singh, Richa Chaddha and small screen actors led by Sharad Kelkar & Barkha Bisht. Few film old actors & the TV stars may have been thrilled in the beginning at having a big budget film on their CV’s during its making, but how many would own it now is a question that begs answering. Individually, every single actor has done her job, it is the skipper who has screwed up big time. Music again by SLB himself (is there no end to this guy's megalomania, he inserts himself into almost every department for credit be it story, scripting , dialogues etc ) is a revisit to his earlier Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam but that had an accomplished composer at its helm in Ismail Darbar. Choreography is impressive if seen on TV, one song at a time but together it is a tad repetitive like the music.

As a conclusion I would recommend that SLB gets serious help , he has to visit a psychiatrist, or in the best case be institutionalized and not be let loose near a camera ever again. He is angry with films and film folks else a person in his right mind would never make this and have the audacity to call it cinema. 

Alternately if he has to make films they should come with a sovereign money back guarantee;  as a minimum  protection of the pockets of paying customers. We can't do much for the trauma they are subjected to by watching his work except only warn them. Instead of a disclaimer the film should have a statutory warning like they have on cigarette packs. 

This is a fan of cinema and a paying consumers frustration at seeing pretenders getting big budgets to play around with, to splurge and to lay it waste. While on the other hand many real filmmakers with good ideas, stories struggle to find finance and marketing or even a platform where they can contribute to the pantheon of Good Indian Cinema. 

Do not waste your money here folks. Eat Bhelpuri or if you want the promised experience or better yet  go eat a Gujarati Thali at Thacker Club - Girgaum, Mumbai or a Rajdhani-several branches in Mumbai, that will most certainly be immensely more fulfilling. 


madhu said...

That bad ? I will give it a miss !

Gauri Nigudkar said...

Gluttons for punishment!! This is what happens when one is lured into packaging .... all gloss and Gloss alone.... Yes, SLB can try and get into a clinic to treat himself. I seriously doubt he will find a doctor who cares to treat him...

kau kau goes the crow said...

You bet Madhu, by calling it a terrible mistake am being kind to it.