Monday, December 16, 2019

Romeo and Juliet — Bollywood Style


Ram and Leela, passionately in love with each other, realize that the only way to stop the bloodshed between their respective clans is to sacrifice their own lives.
So, right there in the description you can see that this telling of Romeo and Juliet takes a definitely Indian twist. It's all about family, all the time.

This was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali whose movies are famously beautiful and this is no exception. Set in a town where two gangster families (another familiar Indian theme) openly war for dominance, Ram and Leela meet at a Holi celebration. It's clever because the colored powder partially disguises their features (instead of the masked ball of Shakespeare's writing).

I really enjoyed this adaptation, especially the chemistry between Deepika and Ranveer Singh. The way they interact, right up to the end, shows us how deeply and instinctively they understand each other ... and without a lot of sappy stuff. Melodrama - yes. Over the top theatrics - yes. Sexual attraction - yes. (Good heavens, that incense scene was amazing.) But not sappiness. Which I appreciate.

I didn't love the bit where each takes over running their clans. With the emphasis on family and town politics, it sagged some. It expressed the ending we expect in the most Indian of ways ... so much so that it made it a delight. Also, I've never seen family so examined in Romeo and Juliet, but to be fair - that's also very Indian. I loved those aspects a lot.

Overall this movie is a good adaptation. The songs and dances are really good and, of course, Deepika and Ranveer Singh are a delight for the eyes. So even if you don't love the rest of it, you can enjoy the show.

Rating — for advanced viewers. (You've got to be willing to let this one wash over you, enjoying the ride for what it is ... it also helps if you've got a basic knowledge of Romeo & Juliet, but that's not really necessary)

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