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.
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.