Bollywood’s latest adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is loud, camp, violent and ultimately soulless.
Set in present day Rajasthan, it follows the 500-year-old feud between two rural warring communities, the Rajadis and the Saneras. Ram ‘Montague’ (Ranveer Singh) and Leela ‘Capulet’ (Deepika Padukone) meet at a festival and are instantly smitten. When Ram shoots dead Leela’s brother in a gang-style encounter, it looks like our gym-toned lovers are doomed, since ‘fire and water cannot co-exist.’ Can Ram and Leela live happily ever after?
Director Bhansali (‘Devdas’) brings his trademark, Baz Luhrmann-inspired flamboyant style to every sequence, drowning it all in a shameless spectrum of bright hues, while persuading his beautiful cast to shout as much as possible. He succeeds in portraying the passion of illicit love, with the often semi-nude Singh and Padukone oozing sexual chemistry.
The result is enjoyable for its visual flair, but this is a shallow and overlong spin on ‘West Side Story’, itself based on the Bard’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Unlike the 1961 Hollywood musical, 'Ram-Leela' is colour over content, with the tragic denouement failing to stir the emotions. Bhansali also composed the film’s ten energetic songs, but he sure ain’t no Bernstein.