Ram Leela was generating controversy even before it was released, and the latest film from director Sanjay Leela Bhansali still had crowds split after its debut this week.
The movie is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in violent times, and stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.
Even before it was released, Ram Leela was generating controversy. The film was originally titled Ramleela and then changed to Ram-Leela, but just two days before its release the Delhi High Court passed an order that it must change its name. A petition filed against the movie claimed that the movie would hurt religious sentiments, and would also confuse moviegoers because they might associated it with Lord Ram and think it was a religious film.
The movie was officially released as Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, but is still known to most by Ram Leela.
After being released Friday, Ram Leela continues to generate mixed opinions.
Juthika Nagpal of Minority Review said Ram Leela had difficulty figuring out what kind of movie it wanted to be. For the first part it followed pretty closely to Romeo and Juliet, but then “proceeded to get unbearable by the minute until the interval.”
“Then something miraculous happens. It’s almost as if Mr. Bhansali realises: ‘Wait! This Shakespeare fellow just didn’t have enough substance in his story to pull off Bollywood drama. Let me show them how it’s done!’ And the story spins into layer after layer of murderous plots, protests against patriarchy, a generational gang war complete with senseless bloodshed, and what not!”
Nagpal said Ram Leela was ultimately too uneven for audiences to truly enjoy.
“We have a shabby, shallow Shakespeare romance to begin with, and a classic, intense Bollywood gang war movie to follow through. The contrast is almost deliberate. Whether it is by design or not, I cannot tell, but it just doesn’t come together in its entirety, and the audience definitely missed the satire if it was intended.”
But many others disagree. Devya Pal of IBN Live praised the movie’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali for a strong bit of storytelling.
“Ram Leela is the most convincing adaptations of Romeo And Juliet. Uses tragic story, violence, feuding families, passion to leave an impact,” Devya Pal wrote, adding, “In a nutshell, Sanjay Leela Bhansali offers a cinematic experience, which you’ll cherish for years. Soulful music, powerful performances makes it a must watch.”
Moviegoers seem to agree. Ram Leela is expected to dominate the weekend box office totals, knocking Krrish 3 out of the No. 1 spot.