Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Starring: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Supriya Pathak, Richa Chadda
All images courtesy of http://www.glamsham.com
The challenge of any adaptation is always to add freshness and a new dimension to its source material and for me, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela (or RL which is less of a handful to type) was a largely successful attempt, at times merging seamlessly with the original Romeo and Juliet and even taking on a life of its own. There were some wonderful moments here, of intimacy, of intrigue and of high octane drama – of course, we would expect nothing less from a Bhansali offering. It is perhaps the songs and the over attention to detail that are the real trump cards of the film – whether it is choreography or dialogue, costumes, or even just the sets, the repeat viewing value of RL is immense and satisfying.
However, RL does have a few weaker parts, namely in the second half when Bhansali takes the story on an odd tangent with Leela and Ram coming face to face after a intense separation. I felt this not only slowed the pace of the film down but had this whole portion been whittled right down (or out entirely), the film would have had far more impact and realised its own ambitions more successfully. Whilst I also give props to Bhansali for venturing out of his comfort zone with elements of action, these definitely sit uneasily alongside Bhansali’s strengths in creating a fantasy world that feels very real but other worldly at the same time.
Performance wise, Bhansali manages to exhaust Singh’s endless supply of manic energy with very good results – Singh’s cockiness sits well in the first half and though Singh flounders on the journey Ram makes, his effort and intent are to be commended. Pathak is superb as the terrifying matriarch – I loved how she conveyed a woman who had succeeded in a male dominated environment. Chadda is also amazing as Rasila, embodying every shade of the character with confidence. However, it is Padukone who steals every scene she is in – her Leela is everything we want her to be and more, full of contradictions, all conveyed with sincerity and a control that is very impressive – career best even.
Similarly, Bhansali seems to have found his form again too – whilst I liked Guzaarish, even I have to admit that it felt bloated and Bhansali tries hard here not to get caught up in the theatre of his imagination, although sometimes this method is one that benefits both the film and the audience. I also liked how Bhansali treated his source material with a careful degree of thought and care which rightly proves as a strength for RL. In any other year, RL may have just been average but with such a poor standard of film lately, RL is easily amongst the strongest films of 2013 and a major achievement for all involved. Recommended.