Is an engaging first hour that takes you downhill through a stretched, predictable and melodramatic rest of the film, good enough? Just might be.
From love at first sight to till-death-do-us-part style, crazy love via the banter and misunderstandings that any relationship goes through - Ram-Leela has it all, in gorgeous frames, amongst lots of song and dance. That also makes it predictable, long and over-dramatized.
For a better part of the first half Ram-Leela is completely engaging. The set-up is intriguing, the language brash and earthy, the characters draw interest and of course it is all very pretty. What also happens hand-in-hand though is that everything is a little overdone. For example, the songs are breathtakingly beautiful but go on for a little too long; I actually laughed out loud at an innuendo and then it is stretched further to kill the joke; similarly the characters, at least the side characters, get a little too repetitive.
The two central characters though keep you hooked - for the first hour. It is difficult to say whether that is because of the vivacious performances, or the strong-minded characters, or the chemistry between the lead pair or just that they look jaw-droppingly beautiful, or their colorful costumes or lack thereof. Or it could be just that you are soaking in the atmosphere. Or all of the above - you are hooked. Even so much so that you overlook the implausibility of it all. You enter the fairytale, alright.
The side characters too, hold their own both in terms of performances and the screen space they are given. Gulshan Devaiah and Richa Chadda have nicely layered characters - especially considering they are a part of a large canvas and there are many small characters to share the space with. Similarly, given how uni-dimensional Supriya Pathak's character is, she does a pretty decent job of instilling fear.
Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone themselves are oozing oomph. At the same time, their presence is more than that. The pulsating sexual tension between them isn't a regular feature in Hindi films. Ranveer Singh is creating quite a space for himself as a romantic lead hero. Deepika Padukone too, not only looks prettier by the day but also engages as a performer.
After that first hour though, because of the impact of how the film began, you wait for something more and better to happen. Unfortunately, the film pretty much takes the route you predicted at the end of this first hour.
Other than the overall love angle, the story tries to touch upon a current social issue. But, it comes out of nowhere and doesn't get too much attention in the main scheme of things, later. It thus, ends up looking like an afterthought. Sure, there are a few twists that you sit up to, but the impact fizzles out, because again it is either long-drawn or melo-dramatized by slow motion.
These things only slow down the proceedings towards a climax that you know all about. There's loads of violence too and some of it gory. While it does become all about one shooting the other shooting the one, there were a couple of chase sequences that I really liked - despite the slow-motion. The sound design and choreography is slick.
In fact, each frame is picture perfect, the lighting in each frame looks divine. But, that is the very least you expect from a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, right? And I can watch almost any film of his for just that atmosphere. Even though, he goes all masala on you this time, barely clad men, women with backless blouses in a conservative set-up, item number and all!
If you can too, you just might not mind Ram-Leela. Once, any way.
- meetu, a part of the audience