Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 15, 2010

Battering Ram

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:18 pm

October 15, 2010

Cast: Voices of Manoj Bajpai, Juhi Chawla, Ashutosh Rana, Mukesh Rishi

Director: Chetan Desai

Ramayana: The Epic is a serviceable animation film based on popular episodes from the sprawling tome. The animation itself is detailed and impressive, but the film ultimately is weighed down by stodgy writing, and by a narrative that’s too conventional for a story this familiar.

The screenplay doesn’t venture too far from popular highlights of the story, focusing on Lord Ram’s forced exile from Ayodhya, Raavan’s abduction of Sita, and Ram’s revenge on Raavan with the assistance of Hanuman and the vaanar sena. But arriving more than 20 years after Ramanand Sagar’s definitive live-action tele-serial, this film employs a similar style of lofty, formal Hindi for its dialogue, that’s likely to alienate the young audience this film is meant for.

As with most animation films, it’s hard to watch Ramayana: The Epic without an awareness of how painstakingly it was created. A team of 400 animators, led by director Chetan Desai, is responsible for some of the film’s better set pieces, including the striking climatic battle sequence between Ram and Raavan, in which the evil Lord of Lanka manifests himself through ten clones.

Alas the storytelling packs nothing original; and even star talent like Manoj Bajpai and Juhi Chawla who voice Ram and Sita respectively, fail to inject any personality into the characters. Because the film’s mostly lacking in imagination and visual inventiveness, what you remember in the end are Lord Ram’s washboard abs, and Sita’s perfectly manicured nails after a year in Raavan’s ashok vatika.

For a sparklingly original take on the Ramayana, seek out the excellent animation film Sita Sings The Blues; you’ll understand exactly where this one falls short. I’m going with two out of five for director Chetan Desai’s Ramayana: The Epic. It’s got the scope and the scale; what’s missing is the spirit!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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