Ram-Leela is Bhansali at his honest best – Gujju, loud, masala and raunchy

Posted: November 17, 2013 by moifightclub in bollywood, film, movie reviews, reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


The early reactions from previews of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s new film, Ram-Leela, clearly seems to be divisive. For any new film, i always find that exciting.  Now that i have seen the film, it’s easy to understand why. You might like it, fall in love with it too, and it’s entirely possible that you felt like gouging out your eyeballs. And every reaction can be justified. But one thing you can’t do – dismiss it completely. Because there’s just too much packed into this one – you can just pick one thing and easily indulge in it like its director.

I feel this is Bhansali’s coming out film. Coming out as a loud Gujrati masala filmmaker. Few weeks back, he even confessed that he is a “loud Gujarati” at heart. Well, that fits in perfectly with the film’s promotions too. But one can’t fake it so much. And when one fakes it, one delivers films like his last three – dead, plagiarised and bloated Guzaarish, boring and claustrophobic Saawariya, pretentious and ham-fest Black. It’s always good to be back to own’s roots. With apologies to Swades, apne hi Gujju colours me ghul jaana Bhansali ka muqaddar hota hai.

Though Khamoshi still remains his best work – the raw emotional chord strikes the perfect balance with a great soundtrack. He made his mark with his blockbuster Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam set in his home terrain. He used a similar canvas to re-paint Devdas. And now, he is back to his home turf again and has gone the whole hog. The language is not sanitised Hindi of HDDCS. Here everyone speaks in thick Gujju accent and sometimes it’s difficult to follow the dialogues. His keywords have remained the same – big and beautiful – every scene, every frame, every drape. There’s some typical Bhansali wizardry in the silent scenes – my favourite is the one when the lovers meet for the first time in the background of bright colourful gulal flying all over, and interestingly, the last time they meet, it’s in similar pose. Aha, beauty.

He has just added a new one – passion raunchiness. There was never so much lust and physical act in any of his films and it’s a refreshing change. From hyper-objectifying the hero’s body to dialogues filled with sexual innuendos, pelvic and booby thrust to passionate kisses between the lead pair. It’s all done with certain degree of aesthetics that one can expect in a SLB film, but it’s all a new colour on his old canvas. It’s fun to see that a filmmaker who has always wanted to be taken seriously and strictly positioned himself in a certain way, is going on this route. And with all his indulgences.

Like his most films, it’s also set in some strange Bhansali-land. And i have made peace with the fact now. But this time we see mobile phones, porn films, gun business, ports, and characters talk about social media too. The times they are a-changin’, in Bhansalipur too.

I also felt this film bring backs the bonafide bollywood masala genre. With every filmmaker trying a Southie remake and calling it the “masala” film, all my senses have retired hurt. Race2, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobara, Besharam, Himmatwala..the list is long. Some of the films don’t even have a single scene which is well written and directed. I will better pick Ram-Leela – action hai, emotion hai, drama hai, gaane hai, ma hai, bhai hai, behen hai, suhaag raat hai, khoon kharaba hai, holi hai, diwali hai, aur (attempt to) rape bhi hai.

The two jarring aspects of the film are its duration and the screenplay. The basic story is adapted from Romeo-Juliet with elements of Ram(ayan), but the screenplay became too much of hotchpotch in the second half. The first half flows smoothly with Siddharth-Garima’s playful dialogues, and Ravi Varman’s lush photography capturing every grand set, authentic props and flashy colours meticulously used by production designer Wasiq Khan. They are in perfect sync. Add to that the combustible lead pair of Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Were they in love when they started shooting? Or Bhansal egged them on to get the best result on screen? Because it’s difficult to be so comfortable and uninhibited in intimate scenes, especially on Indian screen. And those long, passionate kisses just added to the magic. When was the last time we saw something so real in our films? Like that scene where they kept kissing each other in quick succession, that’s new on desi screen. So candid, so much at ease, and really that’s how lovers kiss. Also, has she been lit from inside? With Gulshan Devaiah, Richa Chadda,  Abhimanyu Singh and Supriya Pathak strongly supporting the second rank of characters, Sharad Kelkar and Barkha Bishit get noticed even in small roles.

And Dear Deepika, whatever are you smoking, please pass the joint to the bimbos of bollywood. It feels so good to know that finally we have an actress who can act and look hawt, is on top too. *sings ये लाल इश्क़, ये मलाल इश्क़, मेरा नाम इश्क़, तेरा नाम इश्क़, मेरा नाम तेरा नाम*.

Just another small complain – my favourite and that bhakti-bhaav-se-bharpoor composition yeh laal ishq just doesn’t get enough screen time. Even though the film felt long, i waited for the entire end credits just for the song.


(PS – If you are still googling to know who or what is Lady Popo, the one who is mentioned in the opening credits of the film, well, let me inform that Lady Popo is SLB’s pet doggy. Ooh la la! Which other filmmaker has given so much credit to his Doggy? Jejus, Agle Janam Mujhe Doggy Hi Kijeo)

  1. VS says:

    Either you have soft soft for Bhansali (may be be you got lost in the colors) or you are madly in love with DPad (which is acceptable). Movie was full of WTF moments – Dialogues rivaling Grand Masti (Vulgar Zaveri and Raunchy Bhansali bahut nainsafi hain Cilema babu), Inconsistent, illogical and absurd story and screenplay (you could possibly pick 100 holes in the story and screenplay), Ranveer over acting or lack of acting, plastic (fake) emotions and plastic (fake) sets and plastic setting. If you are trying an intense love story then people should connect with it. Here however hard I tried, couldn’t feel the love or for their love. Forget about love not even the lust part worked despite all those vulgar dialogues and scenes. I would be surprised if it recovers its cost – people were walking out, laughing loudly at emotional scenes or generally bored.

  2. Totally agree with Deepika being lit from inside and about the kissing in succession.

    Another wonderful aspect is that every supporting actor has his/her own moment and doesn’t get lost among the hoard of actors. But Supriya Pathak stands out. She is menacing, scary and humorous.

    Didn’t like the second half. Why neither tried to meet when they were cast apart by their families?

  3. This was one of the most crappy films I have seen, In my opinion, all Bhansali was trying to marry Vishal Bharadwaj/ Anurag Kashyap’s style of film-making with Prabhu Deva’s. He wished to cater to both types of audience. So you had Prabhu Deva’s style of choreography and action- sequences and an attempt toward Kashyap’s rawness of dialogue. Bad attempts. And I have never been able to understnad this obsession with sets. We go to watch a film, we want to be told a good story, not sets. And because of this obsession the film comes across like an absurd drama. So you have people wearing 18th century attire and using cellphones and talking of social networking. Everything was over-the-top! And yes, I would whole-heartedly agree with the comment of the above reviewer that the audience did not feel love for the love of Ramleela. Which was the crux of the film. Well the film will recover its cost, because fools everywhere are going for it. But I could feel the reaction of the audience, most were pissed off!

    PS. Shakespeare must be crying in his grave!

  4. fiteyaal says:

    yes the audience were laughing throughout the emotional scenes, never felt for the characters, so much loop holes in the story, one dialogue from the kid in the end and the matriarch melted and announced their marriage, who was full of hatred on that 2.30 hrs war saga of saneda’s and rajadi..come on this 90’s stuff

    the movie looked beautiful but there was any new content to offer, everything was predictable and seen before, they not even sketched the character of ram properly in second half, what was he trying to do ? why wasnt he trying to meet leela, was he the real don, he became violent in one scene when his sister in law was assaulted but what changed him at the end.

    wholesome stupidity throughout, only the performances were good, rest was absurdity

  5. THIS FILM HAS NOT LEFT MY HEAD….The Visuals….MUST WATCH!!!! i am not a SLB fan (to be honest i hate him since i got a headache watching Devdas years ago ,just did not trust him as a Filmmaker and yeah Blue was well Blue n Black was well Black, could not agree more with the analysis of his filmography above, except the fact that i did not like Khamoshi, vaguely remember some miraculous cure towards the end with someones ears getting pulled or something to that effect n then arising from the dead!!! ,and loved only The 2nd Half of HUM DIL)……But RamLeela Blew my Mind away i loved it,the hall was silent and packed full of people with babies n even the ones sitting next to me decided not to yelp or cry during its entire duration which considering there were so many Gujrati’s in the hall was a miracle itself !!! apart from one family with a disappointed 12yr old son that decided to walk out during the Suhaag Raat scene ,no one moved,cant wait to watch it a second time ,there is so much more that i want to write about…but the writer above has summoned it up so well that well thats the extent to which i would repeat the above views…and yes i finally am a bonafide Ranveer Singh fan:) Deepu is the only other girl i love truly apart from my GF!!!..my only Disappointment was seeing less of the most underrated actor in this country Abhimanyu Singh,The art department the neon the guns n sets too much i could not take my eyes of the screen, DP 5 FULL STARS , that end procession scene, the Holi scene my fav when Supriya pathak calls Ranveer Singh on the cellphone the mix of tungsten n reds, the costumes Two Thumbs up to everyone involved and most surprisingly except the first 2 songs which were a little to sudden on their onslaught loved the music and in all honesty i enjoyed its rustic godfather charm n guns the Godfathers and Godmothers the Dons and the BHAI BHAI ,more than GOW !!!! ..BTW there is also PORN in this one !!!and yes one question ,in the first 15min was there a character called “Wong Kar Wai” pronounced out in a thick Gujju accent???

  6. channan says:

    Somewhat agree somewhat dont. But honestly didn’t u see a lot of Ishaqzaade?

  7. Ponkh says:

    Vanko or vaka…means tedha-medha in hindi.

  8. Mahaveer says:

    Something that could have been ‘a-great-watch’, killed badly…my 5 cents:
    – every now and then Bhansali brings beauty on the celluloid and this one seems to be prettiest (and so are Deepika and Ranveer) of them all, I can foresee a lot of other makers taking a leaf or two from this one
    – Why, Why, WHY…. Mr. Bhansali; you could have taken it somewhere amazing, why kill the second half with a confused story and equally confused characters and worse (over dramatised) climax. It was the second half of Hum Dil De… that I still like you for and you spoiled it this time….badly
    – I don’t know why, but a few recent movies come to mind while watching this one, and I so wish you could learn from them a bit Mr Bhansali (may have Spoilers)….
    Raanjhana – I was listening to each word uttered by Kundan at his deathbed and here I didn’t care what Ram/Leela said to each other at the end.
    Ishaqzaade – I disliked the movie but felt for Zoya/Parmar throughout, here I guess Ram/Leela went too far in their love/hatred/antics and were too volatile to connect with me.
    Dev D – agreed, you are inspired by an epic novel but you don’t have to necessarily kill the protagonists
    – I think the quality and timing of the music sucks….only the visuals are good
    – I don’t think it’s very cool to start the movie with an SMS joke (khud hi pakdna padta hai), especially when you have pretty good one liners later on

    • Jitaditya says:

      Agree mostly…
      except the quality of music part…
      Except the video parlor song, rest were pretty good and a couple of them were excellent… but yes, we have seen better use of the songs of late…

  9. ayuuuu says:

    first sudh desi romance and now ramleela…two movies which were ok and not too bad respectively is being praised here. and lootera was smashed.

  10. rahulandrd says:

    @Cilemasnob- you should check out vigil idiot (Mumbai Boss) of RamLeela 😉

  11. Duke says:

    i think only sex starved journos and deepika’s fans liked the movie..it was bakwas of the highest order, ull will call sstg and rowdy rathore regressive..but LB will do the same over the top 90s bakwas with lavish sets. and waah waah.. hahaaha

  12. Amanda says:

    why do so many people hate this movie? in every comments section under every review people are writing negative stuff. i went to watch it today here in berlin and i really liked it. it’s a sanjay leela bhansali movie and the trailers depicted the movie pretty accurately. i don’t know what people expected when they watched this movie that they were so dissapointed. why do they watch this kind of movies when they don’t like it? sometimes it feels like people like complaining. i personally loved the movie.

  13. DV says:

    The movie is visually like an art. It is beautiful in parts. both Deepika and Ranveer lok their best. It was good to see gujarat in form of language, garba. It is a welcome change than the Northern centric bollywood films.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Fully bakwas movie I ever seen, Film promo is very good the film is not even touch our expectation we have with him.
    I dont understand what he wants to project by this film.

  15. smrutika panigrahi says:

    One of my main issues with the film was the fact that very few characters had a gujarati accent!!!!! apart from supriya pathak, no one maintained their accents. Ranveer’s kept coming and going.. deepika would just pick up one heavily accented word from raveer and say that word exactly in the way ranveer would say. i felt no chemistry between both the chatacters cuz the felt like two youngsters whose hormones have gone shooting through the roof. i mean they are just horny!!!! and yes, i have made peace with the fact bhansali’s films are set in a world of his own but come on! its too unreal! leela kisses ram the day the meet but later has a problem if the stay in the same room before getting married?!?!?!

    The scenes has no graph. one moment they scream at each other, the other they start making out.!?!?!?!?!? ram was so sleazy, he made me feel uncomfortable. i almost felt like i should have been more covered when i was wearing jeans and a sleeveless t shirt. i feel that sex and raunchiness was used merely was attention and really didnt have any place in the film. their “passion” was heavily overshadowed by their lust. i really dont think that it is absolutely necessary for people to kiss passionately to show love, if the director and actor are good and on the same page, then love can come oozing out of the screen, and that didnt happen for me in ram leela at all. what good is a romeo juliet film if it cant make me feel the love between romeo and juliet. the cheap dialogues felt wannabe, the screenplay was boring, and a few cracks on the technical front as well. to me ram leela was the ugly love child of hum dil de chuke sanam and sawaariya. but i have to commend the efforts put in by both actors (deepika, specially) in the dance, very well done there. everyone is raving about supriya pathak’s performance, she was very good no doubt, but her character could have been much stronger (cutting leela’s finer was just for shock and awe, wasnt needed at all). over hyped film, over hyped performances. i wont it it was a waste oh my money cuz i spend just about 100 bucks on the ticket, but quite an excellent waste of my time.

  16. Aditya says:

    Does Ram’s finger get chopped off too? Both (Ram and Leela) were sporting a bandaged finger.

  17. Connoisseur says:

    Copying my comment from another review of RamLeela as I don’t have much time to reword my opinion and I also obviously have a lot to add to it but for now this should suffice:

    Reading the inane comments made to this review gives me a bout of hysteria, having to acknowledge the poor education in arts, especially Indian classical and folk, of much of our Indian populace. These people are the torchbearers of our of current and future generation who represent the colonial mindset that’s long forgone the spiritual and artistic heritage of this ancient country. Not to imply that because the heritage is ancient that it must be respected but to assert that because it is classical and has layers of depth strongly founded in the concept of consciousness and rasas that it must be discerningly studied and consequently respected.

    Much of SLB’s cinema has indirectly been a litmus test to this very ignorance that our present Indian society proudly basks in, almost shamelessly, without being aware of the wisdom that needs to be unearthed by learning the art of viewing, let alone accepting one’s ignorance of it in humility and striving to foster such sensibilities through better eclectic education that also caters to abstract thinking and experience, without reeling in appalling ignorance that rational faculty is the only one that exists in our brain and all other ones merely pander to the former when in fact it’s the faculty in the pre-frontal cortex of our brain, the seat of higher consciousness and abstract thinking which lends humaneness to our being, thereby letting us call ourselves ‘human beings’.

    All this serves as a preface to draw our highly skewed attention, sold off to western sensibilities, to the minutiae of SLB’s cinema, which is loud, subtle and transcendental, all at once, but cleverly disguised as commercial cinema, to fool our uneducated spoon-fed minds into watching an apparently senseless cinema whilst subconsciously hoping in futility to cultivate a sagacious sensibility of understanding and appreciating transcendental aspects of greater arts. SLB indeed is vainly wasting time expecting this audience to even observe, let alone research and understand, the allegories and metaphors he draws out through motif-laden sets far removed from a commonly shared relative delusion which we all fondly like to call reality, intricacies of the story abstractly conveyed via much of the psychological and emotional complexities evident in the format, characterisations and background score in his films to an emotionally intelligent person, all founded in folklore, ancient spiritual philosophies (Vedas, Sufism, Buddhism) and navrasa theory expounded by Bharatmuni’s Natyshastra. But who has the time to observe this and understand this? If it’s an Indian director it has to be senseless. But then if it happens to be a non-Indian director who happens to make a spiritual movie like Life of Pi full of spiritual symbolisms and allegories lapped-up by the west, even if they or us don’t understand the yin and yang of it, then it must be good because it wasn’t made by an Indian, lest it wouldn’t be that esoteric.

    I’m not here to explain to you the symbolisms and allegories SLB’s cinema is replete with nor the brilliance explored by the emotional graph of his films marked with higher levels of awareness, most manifest through masterstroke scenes eliciting the elitist of his art of direction, but to convey to you that it’s a matter of utter travesty that we’ve such low self-esteem so as to completely disregard the sheer genius that’s nurturing right in front of our eyes in our era as meaningless commercial cinema, only for our posterity to acknowledge that in disbelief and shame. As an Indian residing in a foreign land having moderate taste in fine and classical arts, I find it utterly shameful to realize such double-standards we apply to our folk and brag about it in arrogant ignorance, thereby doing a grave disservice to the rich folk, cultural, spiritual and artistic heritage of our country. This, I say, with no untoward intention of running one down but to help open our eyes to the sheer precocity and prodigy in an individual and encourage and appreciate that through humbly educating ourselves in lesser-known fields before engaging in ignorant scathing criticisms.

  18. Connoisseur says:

    Also, for some brief insight into the research that’s done for the movie:

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