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Ramyug: Ramayan Reverently Reloaded



Ramyug (MX Player,10 Episodes)

Directed  by Kunal Kohli

Rating: ** ½

 First  the  good news. Kunal Kohli’s re-telling  of  the Ramayan  doesn’t compare too unfavourably with Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan which has, for all practical purposes, become the sacrosanct over the decades. It has its chronological  advantage, yes. Also, audiences  completely surrendered  to Sagar’s cast and vision.

I don’t see  a  similar  volume of  involvement with Kunal Kohli adaptation , more  so because the  “original” was re-telecast again last year.  Too fresh in audiences’ minds to be  ignored,  Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan casts  a shadow over Kohli’s  faithful and  reverent adaptation of  the mythology(which I  watched  faithfully and reverently  right till the embattled end).

  To its credit, Ramyug has a pleasant feel  and vibe to it. As long as you are not seeking an artistic or spiritual salvation in  the  presentation, this adaptation  floats along innocuously ,though  admittedly some portions  get more clunky  than bearable.But more of  that later. The  series  opens pleasantly  enough in the  Mauritian  jungles (which  adequately  stand in  for  the Ram’s banwas and for Ravan’s Lanka) with  Vishwamitra(Dalip Tahil,subdued) telling Ram(Diganth Manchale, impressive  enough) that  it’s  time he  got married.

   Laxman who  hovers around Ram  in every frame even  when Sita is  around, smirks knowingly.In the  very next episode Ram with the  omnipresent Laxman, is in Parashuram’s kingdoms asking for Sita’s hand.  Both Ram and  Laxman who sported stylish bears earlier are presented clean-shaven in Sita’s  kingdom. I guess parents  haven’t changed over the centuries. They stil prefer clean-shaven  husbands  for their daughters.

 The Ram-Laxman  equation comes across  more effectively(though Akshay Dogra’s Laxman with long  unkempt curly tresses  is a bit too Soho  to pass off as Ayodhya) than the Ram-Sita  relationship,mainly  because  Aishwarya  Ojha as  Sita is lamentably lackluster. There is  more crackling chemistry  between  Dashrath(Shishir Mishra) and Kaikeyi(Tisca  Chopra). There  is  an undercurrent  of  longing and  passion  in the way  Kaikeyi  commands  her  besotted  husband to pack off his favourite son to  the  forest for  fourteen  years.Shishir Mishra’s Dashrath  sobs convincingly for  his dear son’s banishment, drawing up a convincing case against husbands who  adore their wives.

 The  banwas  features  the series’ most  unintentionally  hilarious episode when Surpnakha , wearing what looks like Asha Sachdev’s costume  in Bindiya Aur Bandook lusts after Ram  right  in front of  Sita(who looks amused) and Laxman(who  looks livid). The actress playing Surpnakha(Teena Singh) seems  to have taken her come-hither  cues from  all the screen  vamps from Hindi potboilers.She is unbelievably  clumsy  in her seductive design.

Luckily the  series on the  whole , escapes  the  pitfalls of  uncontrollable  puerility. Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues are  at times better than the  material on-hand. Pandey  infuses a sense  of  contemporenity  in the epic  tale without tampering with its rudimentary  plot points. Art director  Kunal Pawar and  cinematographer  Maneesh Chandra Bhatt avoid garishness in the  frames,making them  as aesthetic as possible given the  basically  elementary aspirations  of the  presentation.

It’s the  end-game  with Ravan(Kabir Singh Dohan) that undoes  the moderately noble  intentions  . The  battle scenes  with Ravan lacks both valour and vigour. Tacky special  effects are not a problem. Tacky vision is. Also, Vivaan Bhatena’s Hanuman lacks  virility  warmth and  tenderness, qualities that Dara Singh so  ably imbued in his  personality in Ramand Sagar’s Ramayan.

Comparisons may be unfair. But if you are  gutsy enough to  go where Sagar has gone before then be ready  to face  the comparisons.Ramyug seems  ill-prepared for this.

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