If Sanjay Leela Bhansali is to be believed, Gujaratis are the most colorful, passionate, violent, loud and lusty community in this country. So everyone in the fictional village of Ranjaar is permanently brawling, killing, drinking or loving.
There are no half-measures in this town. A minor tiff can escalate into a bloody battle with a high body count; the Rajadis and Saneras have been at loggerheads for 500 years now.
Naturally, Ram, a Rajadi played by Ranveer Singh, falls in love with Leela, a Sanera played by Deepika Padukone. Goliyon ki Raasleela — Ram Leela is Shakespeare on steroids and, for the first half, works wonderfully. As in his past films, Bhansali creates a hermetically sealed fictional world that has little connect with reality. But unlike in Saanwariya or Guzaarish, here he injects a robust humour and creates a gorgeous love story.
His trump cards are Ranveer and Deepika. They are effortlessly sexy. Bhansali celebrates their beauty and bodies. But they also have texture and depth.
Their first meeting is magical and their passion sears the screen. In her last three films, Deepika has stolen the show from her heroes, but this one, I think, belongs to Ranveer. He’s flamboyant and cheerfully vulgar but also vulnerable and broken.Cinematographer Ravi Varman bathes each frame in rich, lush colours.
The music, by Bhansali, is lovely. And Supriya Pathak as the chilling Sanera godmother is a treat. But the narrative starts to wobble just before the interval; post mid-point, it unravels completely.
The plot becomes clumsier and clumsier and the joy we had found in the key characters is snuffed out by violence and ugliness. Which is when you start to notice how ridiculous the scenario actually is — these folks are some sort of underworld dons but you never see them actually doing anything except killing each other.
Mobile phones abound and at one point there is talk of Twitter, but the village and its feuds seem to belong to another century.
Bhansali’s famed aesthetic sense never falters, but it becomes grating when peacocks fly away artfully as a woman runs from her rapist and, in a battle, men are smashed into rangoli, which then flies up in a riot of color. Bhansali strains to create an epic love.
By the end, I was so exhausted that I just wanted all the Rajadis and Saneras to kill each other so that we could be done with it.
Still, Deepika and Ranveer make Goliyon ki Rasleela – Ram Leela worth watching.