A reverential tribute
   Date :17-Jun-2023

By Farina Salim Quraishi
In the tapestry of Indian heritage, Ramayana gleams like a celestial jewel, its brilliance undimmed by the aeons. Its timeless significance resonates with people across ages, imparting invaluable lessons of courage, virtue, and the triumph of good over evil. Its overreaching influence was profoundly felt during the iconic Ramanand Sagar's television series, Ramayana, which brought the entire nation to a standstill every Sunday in the 1980s. And who can forget the enchanting animated feature film, Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama, which lovingly introduced the tale to a whole new generation in the 1990s. These cherished memories of the mythological epic replayed on the small screen with gusto, have become an indelible part of our collective consciousness. Cinematic adaptations of Lord Rama's tale, however, have been few and far. Joining this esteemed league is Om Raut’s magnum opus Adipurush, headlined by the golden boy of showbiz superstar Prabhas. Despite its share of controversies, Adipurush offers an uplifting and glorious tribute to Lord Rama, showcasing his noble journey with reverence and yes several cinematic liberties (the lengthy disclaimer notwithstanding).
The film takes the timeless tale of Ramayana and breathes new life into it through modern cinematic techniques and some mesmerising visual effects. For those familiar with the ancient saga, the plot holds no surprises. A series of splendid stills swiftly guide us through the pre-exile phase of Lord Rama's journey. Next up for admiration and attention is the devout Shiv bhakt Lankesh (Saif Ali Khan) being blessed with immortality, albeit with some riders. The non-linear plot then focuses on Lord Rama, aka Raghava (Prabhas), Sita, aka Janaki (Kriti Sanon), and Seshu, aka Lakshmana (Sunny Singh) living their life in the jungle. Lord Rama soon finds himself embroiled in yet another twist of fate when the Ravana kidnaps Sita. With the support of the mighty Lord Hanuman and Sugreeva's Vanar Sena, Lord Rama and Lakshmana embark on a mission to rescue Sita, igniting a battle of epic proportions. Embracing a modern approach, the film boldly reimagines this timeless legend and it is evident in every frame and pulsating dialogue. Adipurush predominantly focuses on the action and adventure aspects of the story, offering little in terms of introspection or spiritual depth. Rather than delving into spiritual tones, the film's driving force is the action. The action gets going from the word go and the initial hour lines up several well-executed sequences. The film will be an eye-opener for the younger audience with its action-packed depiction of epic battles, evil plots, valiant warriors, powerful creatures, and demonic beings.
The visual spectacle, packed with jump scenes and enchanting visuals will transport the young viewers to a world of awe-inspiring grandeur. Be it the opening face-off, the intense clash between Jatayu and Ravana, the epic confrontation between Sugreeva and Vaali, the unforgettable moment when Hanuman first encounters Rama, and the awe-inspiring sight of Hanuman setting Lanka ablaze, all leave a lasting impact. While executed with finesse, older fans may still find themselves yearning for several stand-out sequences from the television series, Ramayan which debuted nearly 25 years ago. Also, the thunderous background score sweeps the audience into its grasp, intensifying the dramatic journey. The standout tracks, Jai Shri Ram and Jai Jai Bajrangbali pulsate through every other frame, infusing the film with an electrifying energy. While some lines do play to the galleries, the rest of the dialogues are apt and fit in resoundingly well within the narrative. As the resonant voice of Sharad Kelkar as Lord Rama fills the air, a mesmerising aura surrounds the narrative. With every word he utters, he breathes life into the mighty lines.
Be it the sequences about upholding 'maryada' or reiterating that the war is not merely for Sita, but for the very essence of righteousness itself, Sharad Kelkar's voice lends a lot of heft to the film. Despite carrying the royal demeanour superbly well, Prabhas' portrayal lacks the inherent divine aura that adorned Lord Rama's character. Prabhas' stoic expression remains unchanged for a major part of the film, leaving us yearning for the endearing warmth and charm that Arun Govil effortlessly brought to the iconic role. He, however, stands out in the action sequences and remains magnetic on the big screen. Kriti Sanon looks resplendid in the pastel robes, but appears a little too polished for the role. Sunny Singh however is impressive as the dutiful brother, but gets limited time and scope to act. Devdatta Nage as Bajrang is a bit of a letdown and fails to leave an impact. Also, the bond between him and Lord Rama does not really buzz with devotion. Saif Ali Khan is menacing as Lankesh and fits the bill perfectly. But the fact that he breaks into meancing, but maniacal laughs take away a lot of his bite! Manchu Lakshmi, Vatsal Sheth, Sonal Chauhan and others pitch in with solid performances. Alas, the apprehensions surrounding the visual effects of Adipurush have turned out to be a harsh reality.
The overtly dark 3D visuals dampen a lot of the enchantment of the magical tale. Despite extensive efforts to rework them, the end result is unsatisfactory and inconsistent. Moreover, the parallels to epics like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or even Planets Of The Ape are strikingly apparent. Be it the fearsome orcs, the flying dementors, the dungeons or a dragon-like bat, all evoke a sense of overfamiliarity. Also, the movie cries out for judicious editing, particularly in the second half. Though mounted on a grand scale, the repetitious frames inadvertently dilute the charm of the epic spectacle. A sense of lost momentum permeates the screen one time too many. Adipurush stands out as a cinematic endeavour that reverently pays homage to the sacred saga, Ramayana. While it may not venture into uncharted territories or offer thought-provoking interpretations, it respectfully pays tribute to the timeless epic, leaving audiences with a renewed awe and appreciation for the enduring legacy of Lord Rama. The Hitavada Rating: OOO1/2