Thank God Shakespeare is dead! He was saved from having to sit through the mess that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made out of his classic work Romeo and Juliet. Bhansali’s adaptation Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela is in short over-the-top, melodramatic and pointless. Simply put it is the story of Ram (Ranveer Singh) and Leela (Deepika Padukone), who belong to two warring Gujarati clans, and end up falling for each other. The man, who is a Rajadi, is the quintessential village stud whose pelvic thrusts make women not just go weak in their knees but actually faint. He flaunts his well-oiled body unapolegetically, dances like a woman and cracks the cheapest of jokes. Oh yes, he also owns a blue film parlour in the village, thus checking on all boxes for qualifying as the most eligible bachelor in town. The woman, Leela, belongs to the Saneda clan and is the perfect Bollywood belle. She is raunchy enough to lust after a stranger whom she hasn’t spoken to even once, but “Indian” enough to not even be able to think of sleeping with him without having married him. And, then there is Ranjhor, the village in itself, where bullets fly around as does multi-coloured glass bottles, but never does anyone get hurt, thanks to the hopeless aim of the villagers.
Touted as Bhansali’s magnum opus, the film is truly “out of this world”, for reasons very different from what its makers claim. Where in this world would you find a village with women dressed in such heavily embroidered, layered lehengas and decked up in silver jewellery even when they are out to fetch water? Why in this world would a woman take the pain to cross over to dangerous enemy territory just to shake a leg and sing Ishqyaun Dishqyaun with her lover? How in this world can you place this weird love story of a couple who clicks selfies to be uploaded to Twitter, in this stuck-in-the-ancient-times set piece of a village? And, when, oh when, in this world will Bhansali stop committing such epic-scale blunders?
Ram Leela reminds one of Bhansali’s earlier works, with the only major difference being a change in the colour code he employs. If his Saawariya was about blue and black and Guzaarish was in red and black, Ram Leela brings in a new colour to his palette making it red, black and white. His characters Ram and Leela seem like extensions of those in his earlier film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam that had Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai playing the leads. Deepika’s Leela is all what Aishwarya’s Nandini was, just a bit more scantily clad and sexually explicit. And, Ranveer’s Ram shares many traits with Salman’s Sameer, just that the newer version is a bit more cheaper and uninhibited. Both the young actors whose performances in their last films were appreciated are reduced to mere fixtures who dance or go all over each other on cue. While Ranveer looks quite at ease doing so, Deepika gives off too urban a vibe to be convincing as the village girl. The hugely talented supporting cast that includes Supriya Pathak, Gulshan Devaiah and Richa Chadha is also wasted by making them mouth badly written lines.
The only plus that makes the film’s first half watchable is the breathtaking visuals by Barfi! cinematographer Ravi Varman. Post-interval the film goes on its own trip and is brought back to a predictable climax thanks to Bhansali’s clarity in his source of inspiration. “There are love stories and love stories and then there is Ram Leela,” a TV anchor had described the film recently. And, that is the exact reason why it would do you good to stay clear of this film.
Film: Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhanali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Supriya Pathak, Gulshan Devaiah, Richa Chadha