Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sanjay Leela Bhansali does a Vishal Bhardwaj in his flawed and brilliant take on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with shades of Habib Faisal's Ishaqzaade

It seems that Sanjay Leela Bhansali wanted to prove that he can make a film about love and violence presented with a deliberate touch of the bizarre, the garish and the vulgar. There was no need for the bizarre juxtaposition of cell-phones and guns with feudal loyalties of a small-town underworld, old beliefs and new modes of linguistic expression.

Bhansali seems to have also borrowed a bit from the Shakespeare plays being presented in the 20 years in modern costumes, modern situations and old dialogues, especially in Britain. The modern presentations of old Shakespeare were both bizarre and vulgar. It just seemed an act of artistic laziness.

But Bhansali makes up for the vulgarity with his rich imagination which is seen in the composition of the shots, the music and the vibrant dances which were a combination of the folk and the cabaret. Especially, the Priyanka Chopra's item number. He also gives a slight twist to the attitude of Ram (Ranvir Singh) and Leela (Deepika Padukone), with the two taking over as leaders of their respective gangs after some predictable turns in the plot. Ram is keen to break the impasse of hatred and so does Leela.

The story line also seems to follow the flow of Habib Faisal's Ishaqzaade as well. But what makes this movie eminently watchable is Bnhansali's meticulous shots and their composition, the brilliant dance numbers and the passable music (Bhansali himself provided the music) and the brilliant acting of Supriya Pathak and Richa Chadda. Ranbir Singh gives his best and so does Deepika Padukone, but they are not capable of investing it with either nuance or depth.

Padukone is elegant, agile, quick on her feet, and her beautiful eyes express sincerity. But her dialogue delivery has not yet achieved the emotional pitch. Ranbir Singh acts well, much too fluently. But both Deepika and Ranbir do not make Ram and Leela memorable. The dialogues given to them are not too brilliant, but they are not able to lift them to a greater height as do Supriya Pathak and Richa Chadda with their brilliant inflexion of words and phrases.

Ranbir and Deepika are quite immature in these matters. Bhansali also seems to have a certain obsession with the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan look, and there are shots of Deepika which seem to capture the Aishwarya glow.

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