Once upon a time in Bollywood, lust was a domain ruled by villains of yore, right from Pran, Ajit, Manmohan, to the master-lusters Ranjeet and Shakti Kapoor. Welcome to our times where Deepika can give Ranjeet run for honey oops money and Ranveer can make Shakti Kapoor seem like a saint. And guess what, these two actors play lead roles in a supposedly love story called Goliyon Ki Ras Leela – Ram Leela. (The line, ‘What’s in a name?’ by the Bard finds an ironical resonance in the fact that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had to change the title, ‘Ram Leela’ to ‘Goliyon Ki Ras Leela’ owing to the MP Court’s diktat).
To begin with, Goliyon Ki Ras Leela – Ram Leela is anything but a love story and yet makes an impact right from its first frame to the end credits, thanks to its awe-inspiring cinematography and set designing. It’s a lust story (there was hardly any moment where one felt the two characters are in love with each other) is so beautifully camouflaged with a riot of colours that you stop caring for plot holes (many), story line (if any), or dialogues (zany). Well this may sound like a jewellery ad headline, but Goliyon Ki Ras Leela is undoubtedly magnificence personified.
Never before was lust captured so beautifully on screen that you actually marvel at each frame, wondering whether it’s a film or painting in motion (Story in loose motion? Oops). If Saawariya had shades of ‘Fiddler on the roof’, this one begins with ‘Pee’dler on the roof, which ensues to a mad chase sequence (interesting background score by Monty Sharma) that ends up in a bottled version of La Tomatina festival held at Valencian town of Buñol (as seen in ZNMD). Here the tomatoes are replaced by beer bottles and guess what, not an ant gets killed, not a foot gets wounded by glass pieces, and not a corpse lies dead after a good round gunshots. So basically, Rajadis and Sanedas are two warring clans who believe in peaceful wars. Wish our neighbouring countries took a leaf from them and proclaimed, ‘War chhod na yaar’.
Pardon the digression, but all said and done, you just can’t resist the temptation of indulging in the guilty pleasure of watching this warfare and nonstop one-upmanship, even in romance. Did I say romance? Oops I meant chance, as both the lead actors grab every opportunity to grab each other. Love is on a constant holiday right from the moment their eyes meet each other and Mr. Lust takes over. It isn’t surprising that the hero croons, ‘Lahu mooh lag gaya’ and the duo later attempt a Govinda-Raveena inspired ‘Yahan Ishkiyaao wahaan dishkiyaao’ behind closed shutter of a porn video shop run by Ranveer’s character.
The dialogues by Garima and Siddharth (who also wrote the film’s screenplay along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali) are sprinkled with sexual innuendos, which work at a certain level, especially because youngsters in the multiplex ‘hi-fived’ each other whenever the hero mentioned dirty picture or heroine mentioned the size and bottom. The best part is surely a porn film’s hilarious title, which I shouldn’t divulge, owing to the basic tenets of writing about a film that many are yet to watch.
Despite the visuals taking over the writing, there are few dialogues which no matter how clichéd theymay sound, actually stand out when spoken by veterans like Supriya Pathak (She plays the role of female don that reminds of Santokaben played by Shabana Azmi in ‘Godmother’ and even has shades of Abbaji played by her husband Pankaj Kapur in ‘Maqbool’) and immensely talented actors like Abhimanyu Singh (The gifted actor in ‘Gulaal’ who reprised as a menacing villain in ‘Rakta Charitra’), Richa Chaddha (The fiery-eyed lover and mother in Gangs of Wasseypur I and II) and Gulshan Devaiah (The ‘Shaitan’ fame actor who was the only best thing about ‘That girl in yellow boots’. In an interview, he aptly describes his role as: Bhavani is a wolf who dreams of becoming ‘The Lion’).
Ranveer Singh commands screen presence. His every scene convinces you of the fact that he is the next big thing to happen in our films and the title of superstar isn’t far for this actor with fire in his six-packed belly. The actor leaves you awe-inspired in the negotiation scene with Deepika and the ‘Hoon don chhoon!’ scene where his Bhabhi confronts him after being anointed as the new successor of the Rajadis. Deepika delivers her career-best performance and might strike gold with yet another 100-crore film after Race-2, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani and Chennai Express. The actress romances with the camera with much perfection as she lusts for the lead actor on screen. Her dancing prowess is surely worth a mention, which is more than mere choreographed steps, but expression of what’s going on in her character’s mind.
In a way, Goliyon Ki Ras Leela – Ram Leela is like director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s way of lashing out at the critics who have written him off as an auteur with fancy for the dark world with a loud, “You want commercial stuff, here you have it!” The item song ‘Ram chaahe Leela’ featuring Priyanka Chopra (Sung by Vadodara-based talented singer Bhoomi Trivedi. There’s also another ‘Trivedi’ from Vadodara – television actor Aanshul Trivedi playing the role of Mandar) goes on to prove this fact. The film drives home the point that if given a chance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, too, can dish out commercial stuff without compromising on his craft.
This reflects in his dignified manner of making an out-and-out commercial film without asking us to leave our brains aside. Nevertheless, the film does compel you to keep your brains aside (Written orders to carry out mass genocide was too much to stomach. When did local dons become so organized?) and indulge your eyes to feast upon a buffet of visual poetry deliciously spread across every frame. Even if it’s a scene where goons are chasing a woman, SLB gets a steel pot rolling along in rhythmic tandem with the woman’s sprinting feet and a peacock looks on from a treetop (Wish SLB had remade ‘Sholay’ – the Basanti kidnapping scene would never have been the same).
The cinematography (Take a bow Ravi Chandran sir), music and editing (By khud Gabbar i.e. Sanjay Leela Bhansali who also edited the film along with Rajesh Pandey) give you enough reasons to watch it multiple times at multiplex – just like yours truly, who has watched Goliyon Ki Ras Leela – Ram Leela ‘thrice’ and wishes to watch it again. Well, can’t help, ‘Lahu muh lag gaya’.
All said and done, ‘Green hai angoor, kele ka rang peela hai, Kehdo saari duniya se, visual treat Ram Leela hai.’