BY ARNAB BANERJEE
Film: Adipurush Duration: 179 minutes
Director: Om Raut Cast: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon, Saif Ali Khan, Devdatta Nage and Sanjiv Singh
Cinematography: Karthik Palani Music: Sanchit Balhara, Ankit Balhara
Songs: Ajay-Atul, Sachet-Parampara
When disclaimers go beyond the perfunctory three-liners and go on to justify the inclusion or absence of some vital facts, rest assured the filmmakers have a lot to hide and explain, or maybe fear a backlash that might result in a disaster.
The disclaimer also says that the original names of the characters have been changed. That said, what’s a film made on such a grand scale without a minor controversy?
In any case, any hullabaloo helps in adding the right buzz to a film. The nth adaptation of the Indian mythological epic Ramayana, ‘Adipurush’, written and directed by Om Raut, produced by T-Series and Retrophiles, and shot simultaneously in Hindi and Telugu, is a modern take, but, thankfully, the epic, time-tested tale has not been tampered with. One minute short of three hours, the film is full of tacky computer-generated graphics that come in the way of storytelling, but that’s not its only flaw.
The narrative takes off with Prince Rama, called Raghava in the film, on a 14-year exile to the forest urged by his father, King Dasharatha, on the request of his stepmother Kaikeyi. It focuses on his travels across the forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.
Soon, it is time for the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana, the king of Lanka, and what follows is the war between Rama and Ravana.
One has seen many versions of umpteen legendary tales told with a lot of passion, each one aiming at a fresh approach, and that alone is the reason why most of their novel treatment becomes a hit. The producers and director are aware that they have to have a faithful adaptation and don’t digress from the storyline (thank God for small mercies!).
In this version of the Ramayana, not much on paper can be blamed. Neither the mythical theme, nor are any of the characters unreal. Prabhas, who plays Rama, is closest to doing justice to his character. The rest playing the fabled roles perform with either hyper-sensitivity or deadpan expression.
Saif Ali Khan as Ravana wants to have fun, and roars “Ha … hahaha” the loudest, but looks most unconvincing in his anglicised Hindi. With the help of technology, he is made to look larger than his five-feet-something frame, helping him tower over all characters.
To woo North Indian Hindi speaking audiences, Rama’s voice has been dubbed by Sharad Kelkar, which is half the performance. Rama here is as affable as possible, but he can be fiercely determined as well, leaving no stone unturned to accomplish his mission.
Kriti Sanon is unsure of what she is supposed to be doing; her tall frame and inexpressive impassive face is a distraction. It is the same Krito who was so impressive in ‘Mimi’ last year. And like the other actors, she is not helped by the fact that she has to deliver unimaginative, almost prosaic, lines that sometimes are laughable.
What is missing is the divinity one looks for in such films. There are many massive visual effects to enhance the effect of wonderment, but sadly, one is not overawed by any of this gimmicky flashiness.
Cinematographer Karthik Palani, though a competent technician, has to deal with too many colours, black and blue in particular, to make way for dazzle and amazement that the film demands.
The songs by Ajay-Atul and Sachet-Parampara, and the background score by Sanchit and Ankit Balhara, is expectedly loud and spoils the viewing even more with decibel levels that create noise pollution.
At the end of the drama, one minute short of three hours, as Rama returns to Ayodhya, it is
a real test of patience to even wait for the credits to roll. So bored one is of the deadpan and uninspired account of a classic heroic grand tale!