Adipurush is indeed 3-D—Dull, Dark and Dreadful



An American playwright once accused an eminent critic of sleeping through his play because he valued his opinion. And he was told, “Sleep is an opinion!” Sadly, we film critics cannot even sleep through the monumental ordeal this film is—all 179 minutes of it! When a film of this (lack of) caliber begins at 8.45 in the morning and ends (with intermission and ads) past noon, your spirit, if not your body, is fatigued.

Films like these are supposed to energize you, inspire you and touch you. Ramayan, that basic mother of all stories that resonates with every Indian—not just Hindus—has formed the bulwark of many a Hindi film, not just in remaking the same story or its excerpts. We have had multiple versions of the full story also, and of all grades, and TV serials, led by Ramanand Sagar’s classic 1980s adaptation. But whatever the level and budgets and tackiness in technology (due to stringent resources or unavailability in the past), more often than not, they resonated with the viewers with the basic power of the time-tested, perennial emotions.

Only one interpretation did not work—the 2021 web series, Ramyug, which was a disaster, as it used technology to overshadow the storytelling, and was ruined by wrong casting, poor music and horrendous VFX.

But finally, Ramyug (which also began with Sita a.k.a. Janki’s kidnapping by Raavan) meets its ‘big’ brother in this film! Like in that series, the technology (despite these advanced times!) only aids in making everything look fake, and the 3-D makes everything look dark, dull and dreadful! The 3-D here is only geared to make everything look wannabe Hollywood. And what can be more incongruous and ill-considered than that?

Imagine, in 2023, we have a technologically shabby film! And the reason is crystal-clear: the attempt is to mimic Hollywood VFX-rich movies, and so the army of apes (vaanar sena) is replete, at the filmmakers’ will, with ‘creatures’ of every kind, shape and size! Technically and technologically, Adipurush is the last word in tackiness, setting a benchmark that cannot be equaled!

Like with that series, shuddh (pure) Hindi is also dispensed with and Urdu words come in liberally. And more, the lines written for all, including the ‘baddies’, are the kind that potboiler Hindi movies have!

The epic that generations have admired for centuries also gets spins in the storyline that are new—again a Ramyug trait. This is unacceptable for a story that has been a part of us for centuries: would someone even dare to tamper with the plot of even a Shakespeare play?

The actors also do not make any mark. I have never watched a flatter Lakshman—named Shesh here for obvious reasons connected with Hindu scriptures—and you cannot blame Sunny Singh for that. His character has zero dimensions and no graph. Kriti Sanon tries her best to make Janki credible, but is reduced to spinning some fiery lines.

Saif Ali Khan is made to re-enact a blend of his negative characters through the years, especially from the director’s last film, Tanhaji—The Unsung Warrior. He cannot be faulted either. It is another thing that Raavan’s persona needed a different kind of powerhouse actor with the correct looks and build. But the sudden appearance of his ten heads makes for good laughs and comedy rather than a serious portrayal of a demonic king!

Prabhas tries his best to get into Bahubali mould, but it’s a battle that ends before it even begins. Arun Govil, whose landmark performance as Lord Ram in the 1980s epic serial is still near-flawless, could have tutored him on playing Lord Ram in the absence of a formidable script and a director like S.S. Rajamouli!

The worst casting by yards, however, is of Devdatta Nage as Lord Hanuman. Puny and almost reduced to being Lord Ram’s partly-comic (!!!) sidekick, this formidable actor, who played Lord Khandoba to perfection in the massive Marathi TV success, Jai Malhar, is almost a caricature here.

The film gets on the wrong track from the beginning, script-wise and in terms of conception. And as the yawn…Oops! I mean yarn…continues, and things go into a vertiginous slide. The music does not help—there is no Ravindra Jain (Ramayana), Rajkamal (Mahabharat) or M.M. Kreem (Bahubali) here. And we are in an era when period films are over-dependent on A.R. Rahman, Ajay-Atul (the composers here) and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy who have largely failed to deliver. We do not even attempt to bring in a worthwhile new—or old—challenger!

The background score by Sanchit Balhar and Ankit Balhara, who usually manage competent scores in their ‘normal’ films and have scored high in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat, is very routine.

As for comparing this ‘worse-ion’ of one of India’s foremost epics with the magnificent previous Om Raut film, Tanhaji… here, well, it would be like comparing Raavan with Lord Ram. Oh, what a fall it is!

One final word: A school student could have fathomed what was wrong with this film at the concept, writing and making levels. Who then, bankrolls such an abysmal waste of human talent and resources?

Rating: *

T-Series Films & Retrophiles’ Adipurush  Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Om Raut, Prasad Sutar, V. Vamsi Krishna Reddy, Pramod Uppalapati & Rajesh Nair  Directed by: Om Raut Written by: Om Raut & Manoj Muntashir Shukla  Music: Ajay-Atul & Sachet-Parampara  Starring: Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon, Devdatta Nage, Sunny Singh, Vatsal Sheth, Sonal Chauhan & others  



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