‘Adipurush’ Movie Review: Om Raut’s Hip Twist On Ramayan Is A Disaster Of Epic Proportions 

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Director: Om Raut 
Writer:  Screenplay by Om Raut. Based on Ramayana by Valmiki. Dialogues by Manoj Muntashir Shukla. 
Cast: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon, Saif Ali Khan, Sunny Singh, Devdatta Nage, and others 
Ratings: 2/5  

One of my most precious childhood memories is of my grandmother telling me the story of Ramayan while trying to trick me to have another bit of my lunch. And the scene that her storytelling painted vividly in my mind was that of Ravan abducting Sita and carrying her to Lanka on his Pushpak Rath, and Sita throwing her ornaments from the stunningly crafted gold chariot to mark the path for Ram to trace her. En route, they meet Jatayu, the divine bird and friend of Sita’s, who makes a valiant effort to save Sita but is killed in the process. I remember getting overwhelmed every time my grandma would reach this portion. Also, I remember her explaining the concept of Pushpak Rath, the flying chariot, and how long before we had airplanes; our literature had mentions of such vehicles. It was not told to me as a religious tale but the story of Ramayan, the bond among Ram, Sita, and Laxman, the human drama that had got a 4-year-old hooked. 

In Adipurush, Ravan’s Pushpak Rath, the dream car of my childhood, becomes a CGI-generated dragon. Sita is shown lying facing the sky strapped on its back. Eventually, she manages to throw one small pearl necklace (however, later in the movie, she is shown wearing the same in a Lanka scene, but continuity errors are not even among Adipurush’s problems). Om Raut, in his Adipurush, turns this lachrymose and heart-breaking scene of Sita’s abduction into a spectacle of a dragon-borne Lankesh fighting another huge bird in the sky… and it is very similar to the House of Dragon scene of Aemond Targaryen riding Vhagar chasing and finally killing Arrax-borne Lucerys Velaryon.   

This is in fact the main problem with Raut’s adaptation. He swaps human emotions with computer-aided graphics in an attempt to create a visual spectacle.  But thanks to the sub-par quality of the VFX, it never manages to become one. Raut also turns Ravan’s golden glowing Lanka that in my head was the epitome of baroque opulence, being built by Vishwakarma himself as the home of Kuber, the treasurer of the gods, into a shabby, dark, dreary, staccato citadel and his Lanka is nothing like Valmiki’s but will definitely remind you of LOTR’s Morgoth. Also, Raut conveniently turns iconic characters like Kumbhakarna and Indrajit into minor characters and relegates them to almost the level of mere henchmen. 

Beyond its various interpretations, Valmiki’s Ramayan is essentially a story of human emotions. Om Raut swaps that with sub-par computer-aided graphics in an attempt to create a visual spectacle.  And bereft of the human drama that has ensured the epic its everlasting charm and undiminishing fan base for centuries, Adipurush becomes a dreary watch where you eventually just keep noting down Hollywood movie references–the Lanka looks straight out of LOTR world, you have Thanos lookalikes, there are too many GoTish scenes, there is a scene that looks like a copy of Avengers uniting, at one point you are reminded of Disney’s Little Mermaid, and so on. But, your willing suspension of disbelief is tested every 10 mins and you have to keep reminding yourself every 10 mins that this is supposed to be Ramayan.  

It doesn’t help that Ravan and his clan have uber-cool genZ haircuts, Indrajeet has abstract tattoos all over, Ram is seen wearing ganjees, and almost every character is shown wearing strappy leather shoes. And things keep getting worse.  And it doesn’t help at all when you have lord Hanuman spouting dialogues like ‘uski Lanka jala denge’ and ‘Kapda tere baap Ka… tel tere baap ka… Aag tere baap ki…toh jalegi bhi tere baap ki. Or Indrajeet screaming: ‘Yeh kya tere bua ka bageecha hai?’. In fact, the dialogues by Manoj Muntashir Shukla are so jarring that at times you even forget how bad the VFX is.  

There is nothing serene, loving, or benevolent about Raut’s Ram. Prabhas as Raghav is just Amarandra Baahubali playing fancy dress. He is CGI neck down and cardboard neck up. His face, especially his eyes, is consistently devoid of expressions.  But his is a rather physically angry Raghav who jumps and leaps and indulges in ultraviolence. His half-CGI character is so badly done that at some points when he is running, it is quite evident that he is not really moving an inch! The only thing that works for Prabhas and Raut’s Raghav is that it is voiced by the ever-dependable Sharad Kelkar. Kelkar ensures at least the voice of Raghav has a calming quality.   

Prabhas’s chemistry with Kriti Sanon, who plays Janki leaves much to be desired. Sanon though does a good job in the limited screen time she gets. In fact, there is very little chemistry between Raghav and Hanuman or Raghav and Shesh (Laxman…is called Shesh probably a ‘cool’ nickname as he was the avatar of Sheshnag).  Sunny Singh almost sleepwalks like Shesh. Devdatta Nage as Hanuman is underwhelming but then it is the way Raut has written the character, using him almost as a comic relief that makes one really squirm.   

But, Saif Ali Khan is the coolest Ravan on the block with his spiked hair. He rises above the attempts of Raut to make Lankesh into a caricature. He channels his guitar-playing rockstar vibe in a scene where Lankesh is seen playing the rudra veena. Be it trying out the most bizarre gait to getting a massage on a spa chair made of live snakes, Saif is visibly having a ball being the menacing but meme-worthy Lanka king albeit with a slight hangover of Uday Bhan. 

Talking about the most-talked-about bit, the quality of the VFX range between very bad and mediocre, but it is the director’s vision that is also to blame. What looked bad in the trailer has not been fixed but the makers have tried to camouflage those with colour grading– a juvenile attempt to hide the flaws. The one aspect where Adipurush actually excels is in the music department. The songs composed by Ajay-Atul and Sachet–Parampara are melodious and the background scores, especially the one during the introduction of Lankesh, create an impact. 

Verdict: 

The good thing is that the sub-par VFX of the movie that had garnered severe criticism after the trailer launch forcing the makers to postpone its release is not the worst thing about Adipurush. It is the artistic choices Om Raut makes as a filmmaker. With a huge dragon, bat-like creatures swarming the sky, talking monkeys, and even a bear in a mini skirt, Om Raut’s Adipurush reminds one of Game of Thrones, LOTR, Avengers, Jungle Book, Planet of the Apes, and many such movies, but sadly not Valmiki’s Ramayan.  

Raut’s screenplay sucks the soul out of the human drama. While Manoj Muntashir Shukla’s trashy dialogues, replete with inaccuracies, ensure that there is not an ounce of devotional feeling left. Prabhas is a complete miscast as Raghav. Sharad Kelkar’s voice makes his Raghav sound good but  Prabhas’s is virtually expressionless through much of the movie.  

Apart from the superlative music, the only redeeming factors are Saif Ali Khan as Lankesh and Kriti Sanon as Janki. Although Raut leaves no stone unturned to make the ten-headed ‘demon’ look farcical, the actor, even with his bizarre walk, somehow manages to hold his ground and is menacing enough in most parts. Kriti Sanon doesn’t get the screen time she deserved but does a good job, especially in the emotional scenes. She looks like a pretty Disney princess with her wide-eyed innocence and it works for the character.  

To sum it up, in Adipurush Raut creates a VFS-generated outlandish world influenced more by Hollywood movies than by Ramayan

The post ‘Adipurush’ Movie Review: Om Raut’s Hip Twist On Ramayan Is A Disaster Of Epic Proportions  appeared first on Man's World India.

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