Adipurush Movie Review: Om Raut's 'Adipurush' is a sci-fi/fantasy take on Ramayana that's high on visual effects and low on drama

Om Raut
Adipurush Movie Review

Adipurush Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Retrophiles
Director : Om Raut
Music Director : Sanchit Balhara

Om Raut's Adipurush dispenses with the early parts of Valmiki's Ramayana, and deposits us in the forest with Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita. One of the first big events is the abduction of Sita, so allow me to describe this stretch. Ravana casts a spell that binds her in vines. She loses her senses and she begins to float like a corpse. Ravana discards his beggar disguise and balloons to his original size: he is a man-monster. An equally monstrous dragon-like creature descends from the sky. Ravana places Sita on it and begins to steer the dragon towards Lanka. Jatayu intercepts Ravana in an attempt to save Sita. He unleashes a sword and jumps off his mount, and he slays the giant eagle. The dragon makes a swoop and catches Ravana in free fall. They reach Lanka, and alight on something that looks like a spaceship docking station from the Star Wars films. 

That is the general feel of Adipurush. The end result looks like a live-action comic book – and I mean this somewhat positively. As a showcase for visual effects, the film is not bad at all. The depiction of Ravana's ten heads is very imaginative. Lanka looks like a dark and permamently overcast outpost from the Lord of the Rings movies. In contrast, the forest Rama and Sita live in is filled with sunshine and peacocks. The monkeys are not men with puffy-cheek masks but CGI creatures whose lip-sync with their lines is spot on. The battle between Vali and Sugreeva has been shot like a WWF video game in a Temple Run setting. The rakshasa-s resemble orcs and skeletal vampires. The extraction of healing liquid from the sanjeevani plant is staged like an occult ritual. And in an enterainingly OTT touch, we see Ravana getting massaged by huge snakes.

But the drama is completely inert. Externally, everything is vast, but inside, it's all hollow. At least Saif Ali Khan gets to gnash his teeth and have some fun as Ravana. Prabhas as Rama and Kriti Sanon as Sita give us nothing.  We don't feel their love. We don't feel their sorrow when separated. We don't feel their relief and joy when reunited. (I guess it says something when the villain-introduction shot has more spice than the hero-introduction shot.) Of course, the real issue is the writing. The supposedly rousing speech Rama gives his army is so generic, I wouldn't have been surprised if the monkeys had yawned and dropped into deep slumber. And imagine this as a line of love from Sita: "Your shadow may leave you but I won't." Prabhas always seems to be walking in slow-motion and makes this three-hour film feel even longer. If all the brainwork expended on the look and feel had been applied to the screenplay, Adipurush might have actually been an epic.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.