Sita Ramam is wonderfully conceived and executed love story

Dulquer Salmaan plays Lt. Ram in the Telugu film, Sita Ramam. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

First things first—the glaring flaw in the timeline. The latter half of the story is set in 1984 and the base of the saga is 1964. We get a terrorist concept then (complete with references to late Pakistani President Ayub Khan!!) though the mujahideen (as mentioned within the film) was a force that historically originated only in Afghanistan in the 1970s!

We see a man named Ansari (Ashwath Bhatt) who wants to plant teenagers in Kashmir then (even before the 1965 Indo-Pak war!!) to live like Indians, and then conspires to make the Indian army eliminate them so that the Muslims in the Kashmir village are enraged against Indian forces!

We wonder why this base story could not have been transported to the more credible 1990s to 2010s! Was it only to avoid the concept of mobile-phones that could have drastically changed the storytelling, perhaps? Or was it to show the costumes and lifestyles then, the art direction, the kind of music? Or whatever else?

Because once we accept this time phase as the base for this love saga, what we get is a heartrending story of unconditional love between an orphan soldier from the Madras Regiment in Kashmir and a secret lover based in Hyderabad, who calls herself Sitamahalakshmi (Mrunal Thakur).

The story follows a complex path but every juncture in the narrative is beautifully, cerebrally conceptualized. The film starts in London where a Pakistani student, Afreen (Rashmika Mandanna), an India hater, burns a rich Indian (Tinnu Anand)’s car. She is offered a choice: compensate with money or be rusticated. She opts for the former and comes home to meet her army grandfather Abu Tariq (Sachin Khedekar) to ask for the money, only to find that he has passed away.

As per the old soldier’s will, she will get his legacy provided she delivers an Indian soldier, Lt. Ram (Dulquer Salmaan)’s letter to the unknown Sita Mahalakshmi in Hyderabad, India. Furious but helpless, she sets out on the seemingly impossible mission, with only sketchy clues. And what she unravels brings to fruition a love story she could not have imagined, with she herself as the pivot!

The screenplay is so enthralling that we—finally—do not mind the humongous licenses with logic in the areas mentioned above. Sita Ramam lends a new dimension without being in-your-face to the Hindu-Muslim angle in India, and to even Indo-Pak relationships. Without involving any politicians!

Laced with crisp and largely realistic and understated dialogues (I watched the Telugu version with English subtitles on OTT as the Hindi version had an extremely limited theatrical release!), Sita Ramam brings in loads of emotions without anything overdone. The lyrics are not understandable, obviously, but the music is old-world and quite melodious.

Dulquer Salmaan is charming, but Mrunal Thakur is just adequate. Rashmika Mandanna is a shade inconsistent in the final parts of the film but effective overall. Sumanth as Brigadier Vishnu Sharma and Tharun Bhascker as Balaji, who helps Afreen, are quite good.

The rest of the cast is alright and the technical side up to the mark, with P. S. Vinod and Shreyaas Krishna doing a great job of the camerawork and the editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao maintaining the brisk pace despite a long length.

Here was a film that pulls out all the right stops mainly because of the tight direction and script, making it a must-watch despite all the flaws and not-so-strong performances. It proves yet again that the script, direction and editing, in that order, are the pivots of a good film that transcends barriers of region and language as it connects with assorted audiences.

Rating: **** (Almost)

Amazon Prime Video presents Vyjayanthi Movies’ & Swapna Cinema’s Sita Ramam  Produced by: C. Aswani Dutt & Swapna Dutt Directed by: Hanu Raghavapudi  Written by: Hanu Raghavapudi, Raj Kumar Kandamudi, Jay Krishna & Rutham Samar  Music: Vishal Chandrashekhar  Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Mrunal Thakur, Rashmika Mandanna, Sumanth, Sachin Khedekar, Tharun Bhascker, Vennela Kishore, Shatru, Rukmini Vijayakumar, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Prakash Raj, Murali Sharma, Ashwath Bhatt, Tinnu Anand, Pawan Chopra, Jisshu Sengupta, Bhumika Chawla, Neeraj Kabi & others




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