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Sita Ramam Is A Blockbuster Love Story

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Sita Ramam

Sita Ramam(Telugu)

Starring Dulquer Salmaan, Mrunal Thakur , Rashmika Mandanna , Sumanth

Directed  by  Hanu Raghavapudi

Rating: *** ½

Sita Ramam is  one of those films  from  the South which has done well in spite of the  pandemic crisis. It started on a  subdued  note  but has since its release outperformed  nearly every  Hindi film .

After seeing the film I am surprised at how much of the  plot is based on the fairytale  idealized  version of  love rather than  a  more practical offshoot  of the emotion that we see  in cinema  today(and in real life  as well).

 Ram played by  the very genial Dulquer  Salmaan  is a  soldier fighting a war against  war-time  killings on the border in 1964 ,  when in a flashback we are told Ram rescued his  Sita(Mrunal Thakur) during a  sudden breakout of communal riots.

The  mob scenes as well as the  other battlefield images are smartly shot, though  they seem a little too conscious  of their epic  ambitions. It’s like setting out to make  a great film. You can’t do that. Likewise you can’t set out  to make an epic romance. Sita Ramam  tries. It flounders when  it  tries too hard .Also the basic premise –that  a girl in the 1960s would  write  letters to a stranger  proclaiming he is her  husband—is  tough to accept.Not to mention very dangerous.

Once we  buy into the plot’s  glorious guilelessness  it  all becomes an easy breezy ride specially since  Dulquer Salman who recently did two very dark film Kurup and Salute and one very airy lighthearted  silly froth broth  Hey Sinamika,  here treads into romantic territory with a blithe  passion. He is  goofy but never  flippant, passionate  but  never over-concentrated. He  knows  when to rein in and when to  let go.A skill that the  film itself is not very adept at.

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Even so, Sita Ramam has  a lot to offer . It is  a visual feast, and  my  compliments to  the  art director , and the cinematographers P. S. Vinod and Shreyaas Krishna  who  extend an  exhilarating  beauty to  almost every frame.

 The storytelling could have avoided unnecessary  complications. The nubile narrative pinponging between  past(1964) and  present(1984)  is  photo-bombed by  irrelevant   digressions including two  very  dull and  unfunny  comic  interludes  featuring  Vannela Kishore and Murali Sharma.

The  surplus of characters  could have been avoided:  what  was  the  need for Dulquer to have a constant  sidekick or for Rashmika Mandanna, playing a British  Pakistani ,  to be  accompanied by a colleague when she sets off to  hand-deliver  a letter  that  POW Ram wrote to his  Sita twenty  years ago?

By the way  Tharun Bhascker , superfluous as  his  character happens to be,  is quite engaging as Rashmika’s  travel companion. The  weakest performance comes  from Mrunal Thakur who  looks constantly stricken as  though  worried that the elaborate hairdo may come undone anytime.The role required a firebrand  like Zaira Wasim. Alas, she too had other things in mind.

Mindful of its  responsibilities as an epic love story Sita Ramam chugs along with  a distant  grace,  not quite amazing , but nonetheless engaging and laudable.

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