'Adipurush' review: A westernised take on 'Ramayana' or a confused medley of movie scenes?

Adipurush movie
Adipurush movie posters. Photo: IMDb

Om Raut's 'Adipurush' starring Prabhas, Kriti Sanon, and Saif Ali Khan in the lead roles has been mired in controversies ever since its teaser was released, primarily due to its lacklustre visual effects. However, now that the film has finally graced the theatres, one can cautiously acknowledge that it has attempted to be a decent endeavour. Although it claims to be based on the epic 'Ramayana,' it doesn't exactly exude the essence of the original tale. Instead, it presents a version of 'Ramayana' that seems to be set in a Western-influenced world, complete with steel-plated bows and arrows, stylish armours, dragon-like creatures, and even jungle trolls. In fact, it almost feels as if Ram, Sita, and Lakshman have been mysteriously transported into a realm inspired by the likes of 'Harry Potter' and '300'.

In 'Adipurush,' the narrative swiftly dives into the exile period of Raghav (Prabhas) and Janaki (Kriti) (Ram and Sita), accompanied by Shesh/Lakshman (Sunny Singh). Within the initial 45 minutes, Janaki gets abducted by Ravan (Saif Ali Khan).

The overall tone of the film leans heavily towards a children's movie, with an abundance of CGI that leaves Prabhas sporting the same expression throughout. Similarly, Sunny Singh's portrayal of Shesh lacks variety, as he maintains a consistently blank face. Janaki's character, unfortunately, has little to offer in the film, apart from repeatedly warning Ravan of his impending doom. Ravan himself steals the spotlight, appearing as the most striking character, modernised in every aspect. From riding a dragon-like creature to wielding contemporary weapons and residing in a stylish dark palace, his portrayal stands out. Saif Ali Khan's performance in the film deserves recognition as he effectively portrays a plethora of emotions with skilful execution.

In one of the opening sequences of the 3-hour-long film, Janaki and Shesh find themselves under attack by a horde of creatures reminiscent of the 'dementors' from the Harry Potter series. Curiously, the Lankans in the movie are adorned in hooded robes and skull masks, leaving one to wonder about Om Raut's creative choices for the characters. Ravan even possesses a helipad-like structure to accommodate his dragon-like creature for landing. Unfortunately, the CGI and visual effects fall short, resulting in a movie that feels more akin to a video game where the protagonist, Raghav, engages in battles against an array of fantastical creatures.

Given that most of the animal characters, such as Sugriva and Jambavan, are CGI creations, it's understandable if they bear a resemblance to characters from 'The Jungle Book' or 'King Kong.' While Devdatta Nage delivers a commendable performance as Bajrang/Hanuman in the movie, it feels like there is a slight disconnect in portraying his devotion or emotional connection towards Raghav. However, this observation holds true not just for his character, but for most of the other characters as well. The film seems to lack the necessary emotional bonds between the characters, leaving a void in their relationships and interactions.

The movie takes place predominantly in dimly lit surroundings, requiring viewers to strain their eyes and peer closely through their 3D glasses to discern the unfolding events. The film, as a whole, appears to be a medley of various movie scenes and concepts, catering more towards a younger audience rather than adults, as previously mentioned. To the average viewer, it might even come across as rather foolish or nonsensical. Nevertheless, the movie does manage to salvage some credibility with its commendable background score, providing a semblance of cohesion. Regrettably, that might be the only aspect of the film that can be deemed as even remotely praiseworthy. The filmmakers had also made a decision to reserve a vacant seat in each theatre for Hanuman. However, it seems that on the movie's first day run, viewers in certain theatres in Kerala opted to leave a significant number of seats unoccupied probably because of their lack of relatability with the film's content.

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