Firstly, Ram-Leela is a musical. Well technically every Bollywood movie is, but this one takes it just a bit further and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of the songs are worth a listen and in true Bhansali style, visually appealing, but the two that stick out like sore thumbs are the unnecessary ‘Ishquan Dishkaun'(Have I spelt that right?) and that atrocious Priyanka Chopra song which has some of the funniest choreography I’ve seen in a while. And I’ve seen Krrish 3.
That being said, this movie surprised me. Set in a mythical town in Gujarat, the film deals with two star crossed lovers who belong to rivaling families. The entire town is run on the dealing of guns, taking the ‘itchy trigger finger’ phrase to a whole new level.
So Ram(played by an effervescent Ranveer Singh) belongs to the Rajri clan whilst Leela(Deepika Padukone, in the performance of a lifetime) is the daughter of the mob boss( Surpiya Pathak, who is scarily effective when she isn’t trying to be funny) of the rivaling Sanedo family. The two lovers meet during the celebration of Holi, and in bizarre fashion, throw themselves at one another. Much drama ensues, Bhansali throws in one of the most enjoyable tributes to the window scene from Romeo and Juliet and amidst a flurry of songs, the two fall head over heels in love with each other and decide to run away from it all.
However, things do not go the way it was meant to, and the two are back in the midst of two families who have more reason to despise each other now more than ever. Blood is spilt, women are assaulted, peacocks are killed in order to deliver the punch line of a PJ and much follows, as the film chugs onto the not so surprising climax.
No Bhansali film has ever ended happily,(For those of you who bring up Rowdy Rathore, beware) because the man is of the opinion that the world is a cruel place and that’s something we all agree on. Khamoshi, maybe an exception but the film is mostly depressing anyway. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gives Salman Khan the figurative finger in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, Shahrukh Khan chokes and dies in front of Aishwariya Rai in ‘Devdas’, Amitabh Bachchan gets Alzheimer’s in ‘Black’, Sonam Kapoor gives Ranbir the figurative finger in ‘Saawariya’ and Hrithik Roshan gets euthanized in ‘Guzaarish’. And this movie is no different.
As far as performances go, Deepika delivers easily her best performance in a film so far. She’s come a long way from being one of Himesh Reshammiya’s many subjects in his songs, to an actress that has piqued the interest of many purely due to her talent and not just for her looks which is an added bonus. She is absolutely beautiful in the movie. Ranveer Singh is quite effective and if at times slightly over-enthusiastic. The chemistry between the two is wonderful and you have to remind yourself at times that you are watching two actors portraying two characters in love on screen. She effortlessly seeps into his arms, and there isn’t a hint of awkwardness around. Surpiya Pathak is terrific as Baa, the Gujarati mob boss with an odd sense of humor. The supporting cast(Gulshan Devaiah, Richa Chaddha, Barkha Bisht) all chip in with decent performances. Ravi Varman’s cinematography is this film’s strong point. Every color pops, with some of the shots being painstakingly beautiful. But then again, technically, no one can make a film like Bhansali.
It was evident in Saawariya and more so in Guzaarish, where there was more fluff and hardly any stuff, that Bhansali was more or less off form. Ram-Leela serves as his comeback vehicle and it certainly does deliver. Easily one of the better movies out this year. Go, watch it if you haven’t already.
Also, I refuse to call it, ‘Goliyon Ka Rasleela-Ram-Leela’. So Kanti Shah-esque.