Ranveer Singh’s six-pack and Deepika Padukone’s beauty will not be salient points in this review of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. It is easy to wax lyrical about the gorgeous sets, detailed costumes, magical cinematography, detailed costumes, melodious songs, their rich picturization and choreography. It is equally easy to fall under the spell of the chemistry between the leads - so well crafted are the romantic scenes in the first half. But the insular world of our Romeo and Juliet is dashed pre-interval and somewhere in the blur that follows, I found myself losing touch with the lovers.
Shakespeare in his Romeo and Juliet didn’t allow this to happen, keeping us constantly in tune with their innermost feelings. Bhanshali is intent on modernising his tale so i-phones ring ad nauseum - it’s all digital and there’s even a terribly forced reference to Twitter. Also forced is the pointed way in which the matriarchal character of Leela’s family is exploited for its modernity rather than contributing to the emotional integrity of the narrative. ‘How cool - women have such power - so many strong women!’ - it screams but did we need a barrage of viewpoints - especially from a host of characters that we met only in passing. The way the lovers were swallowed up by societal forces was disconcerting - not because it wouldn’t happen but because the power-games lacked credibility, were introduced mid-stream and allowed to overwhelm that which had been a pleasure to watch - a fully realized relationship.
It is appropriate to compare Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela with Guzaarish because it is the second film where Bhansali has had a hand in all areas of filmmaking - production, direction, screenplay and music. Both films have endings which rest on resolutions which have been worked into the screenplay purely for effect. It is not a case of dramatic effect because the build-up and tension necessary for drama are missing.
When I am too interested in Bhansali’s aesthetics I know ‘I have lost the plot’ and so it happened halfway through Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. The pairing of Singh with Deepika Padukone and the gobsmacking visuals made the experience worthwhile nevertheless.