Dec 15, 2013

Unpolished review of Ramleela

Warning: Lots of spoilers

I wanted to write a lot more about Bhansali's work, but ran out of steam. Maybe some other day.

All the critics are wrong. Ramleela is an awesome movie.

In romeo and juliet, romeo enters juliet's house on a masquerade ball-- maybe that is the reason indian films have chosen to portray this scene in holis, when you cannot really see the other person's face. But in romeo and juliet, juliet's father decides to let romeo stay on anyways, because it’s a festival time and he likes the lad. In Bhansali’s version, nobody likes Ram. Bhansali has added many of his own touches in his version of Romeo and Juliet, which are all nice. The two people killing each other, for instance, rather than succumbing to fate and illusions, is very well done. And so are the various intrigues and conspiracies.

By now, Bhansali’s visual motifs have become familiar to viewers - a woman lighting a diya. A woman with a light. A woman with blood flowing into water. A woman dragged against her will. Is it a coincidence that most of these images are of women? And a toned, shirtless man. Such a man in dhoti looks so good, or lets just say Ranbir Singh carries his dhoti off better than Ranbir Kapoor carried his towel-- which slipped  older woman dancing -- like kirron kher in devdas. By now, even Bhansali’s dances are familiar-- the dhol dance, the solo female dance--priyanka even strikes the same pose as aishwarya in hddcs. The song, btw, i think is the weakest part of the movie, even though it is a visual delight. Bhansali can do better than that, he has made so many awesome movies without item songs. But he does chase scenes very well, I could not take my eyes off of the one where a woman is being chased by a group in a jeep. And also confrontations, the pivotal scene where both parties tries to shoot at each other’s bottles is hair raising. There are many other patterns, which I forgot. Maybe will add later when I remember. The problem with these patterns is that they are all beautiful, but the second time around, they seem to lose their power, especially for viewers like me who associated a lot of meaning with the scenes we saw the first time.

Colors and sets are another pattern of bhansalis- i wanna watch the movie again just for that, and the costumes. And how strange, that even when leads run away, they find a town just as picturesque as they left-- complete with posters of goddesses in the hotel room.
All this makes you think that perhaps Bhansali gave his best, his heart and soul, to hddcs, and is just churning out pale copies since.

One flaw with the movie is that it lacks an emotional punch. Somehow, the attraction that the two leads have does not seem enough to create a life consuming passion for both. Perhaps the fact that the lead actors are good but not great has something to do with it. When Deepika recites silly shayaris even in serious situations, it makes you think of Aishwarya in hddcs, who had was similarly living in her own world not caring what happened outside. And the comparison does not favor Deepika. Also, perhaps our prejudices against sexuality have something to do with it – a relationship with sexual elements is perceived not as “deep” as a purely emotional one.

Coming to the theme, which is the most important part of a movie, And even in themes, we now know Bhansali’s patterns: a hero who is not serious even when the heroine is about to be married. A girl who is forced to be married, and is defiant. Authoritative parents. A daughter who is the parent’s guroor. But this time we must thank Bhansali for giving us more evolved female characters. An authoritative mother rather than a father, and a spirited heroine! sanjay leela bhansali's work is filled with primeval emotions-emotions you feel so deeply, you are forced to obey them, no matter what your circumstances. His movies remind you of things you cannot run away from--ghosts you cannot lay down. And for this, I always watch his movies, because they touch you somewhere at the core of how you feel, and remind you of how important romantic love is to your happiness.
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