You’ve heard the story before. But not seen it like THIS! Sanjay Leela Bhansali looks towards his ethnically rooted Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and overdone Devdas to win back audiences he lost with the westernised Black, stylised but hollow Saawariya and the pretentiously concerned Guzaarish... and manages quite a turnaround!
The good news is that he gets the basics right.
Bhansali has figured out that he does not need to look far West for inspiration. Okay, it might have loosely borrowed a few things from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but diegetically, it’s Indian in form.
So yes, the havelis from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam are back. So are the chandeliers from Devdas and the folksy refrains from the former. In fact, the backdrop is not only picture perfect, the production design is so rich that you can rarely tell where location ends and set design begins. This is home turf and Bhansali knows the world in and out. While he has always had an eye for aesthetics and sensual shot taking, the director had also kept it contained.
In Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, he lets it loose. This is certainly his most uninhibited film with raw sexual energy and explosive chemistry between the two of the best looking people in the country. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone burn the screen down with their presence in exquisitely designed ethnic costumes tailor-made to show off their sculpted bodies and it’s a bonus that they can actually act.
The first half breezes past on pure colour (cinematography by Ravi Varman), costume (Maxima Basu and Anju Modi), choreography (Ganesh Acharya, Vishnu Deva, Terrence Lewis, Sameer and Arsh Tanna) and chemistry that’s distinctly Bhansali (who Western critics are likely to call the Indian Baz Luhrmann) and this, despite you knowing what’s going to happen. It’s a story we have consumed in more forms than we know and yet, this is a musical that’s true to form without any pretensions of being anything more.
Which is why when the filmmaker chooses to turn this epic into a fight between love and hate in the second half, it feels a little forced on the narrative. So there are a few convolutions, as Ram (Ranveer) and Leela (Deepika) become leaders of their warring clans. And for some reason, they are taking the politics of it a little too seriously and the love story takes a backseat. The physical chemistry that was powering the film too loses steam as the lovers are forced to engage in power politics and the subplots unfold, slowing down the overall pace.
At two hours and forty minutes, this feels longer than it should, heading towards its predictable end and what’s worse, it is not just the familiar ending. It is also similar to the other film about enemies turning lovers.
While the score here has a heavy Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam hangover, the songs are all catchy. Interestingly, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Monty Sharma have been credited with music.
If you are in the mood for a sensory overdose, this might just be your favourite Bhansali film. Else, just go watch it for the leads. They are scorching hot and super talented. And that just might be reason enough.
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Richa Chaddha, Supriya Pathak, Abhimanyu Singh, Gulshan Deviah
Storyline: Starts off as a desi Romeo and Juliet set in Gujarat but soon lovers turn sworn enemies and the film turns Ishaqzaade
Bottomline: A gorgeously shot beautifully choreographed musical mounted on a spectacular scale loses its plot muddled in the politics of love and hate