Runtime: 157 mins
A period romantic drama set amidst the India-Pakistan strife, although Sita Ramam is a hit at the box office, the film loses appeal, as it tries for greater complexity. It's 1964, and the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) terrorist camp is putting the finishing touches on Operation Gibraltar involving the Mujahideen crossing into Kashmir. A young Indian lieutenant who falls in love with a Muslim princess (later on, his wife) from India's Hyderabad, is tasked with destroying the Pakistani camp. But he gets caught and tortured while his wife goes from pillar to post to rescue him.
Ram (Dulquer Salmaan), an orphan soldier, doesn't have much to call his own. He falls like a ton of bricks when a lady sends him a letter. On one of his sojourns back from the army, he meets up with the woman, and love blossoms. The disparity between their class, caste and religion is not evident, but, of course, there are outside influences to play villains.
Nevertheless, the twosome overcome their conditioning issues, get married and start a life together. But now it's the army's turn to put up impediments in the way of their everlasting love.
The set-up is can be a bit unbelievable. In a day and age where people look for security in marriage, here's a movie heralding someone leaving her riches behind to play wife to an army lieutenant whose life is always in jeopardy - even if the setting is way back in the 1960s. Not to say that army men aren't getting married and women don't want them. But during the war time, it seems hard to digest.
Hanu Raghavapudi's Telugu version of Sita Ramam was released a couple of weeks ago and did not set the box-office on fire immediately, but has picked up via some good reviews and word of mouth publicity.
Since this was a multi-lingual production, the director probably thought it judicious to release it in Hindi also. But the lack of fanfare and the tedium of an ambitious though impediment-heavy craft spoils the effect.
The narrative takes us back and forth through two parallel timelines and plotlines and by the time we begin to make sense of it and understand the connections, the interest is lost completely. To add to that, the runtime is way too long even for a star-crossed romance.
Sita Ramam has the gloss of mainstream Bollywood content, some heavy-duty emotion charged histrionics a la Mani Ratnam's Roja, and cinematography that looks wow. The music is melodious but the Hindi lyrics don't cut ice.
There's quite a few sequences promoting the romance between the central characters but despite the poignancy it fails to generate affect. The intrigue involves some shadow play plotting regarding the Indian Army's insurgency operations in Kashmir. The narrative spends too much time setting up the love story amidst strife and loses the romance of it completely.
To add to the miseries, the casting is inappropriate - especially Mrunal Thakur (though a wonderful and competent actress), who doesn't fit the character of Hyderabadi royalty, a princess betrothed to an Omani prince but instead who falls in love with an army officer.
In fact, too much detailing makes the viewing tedious and unromantic. The intermingling of timelines also makes it a less than lucid, near incoherent experience.
Dulquer's earnestness comes through well and the supporting cast also make a fair mark but it's still not enough to save Sita Ramam from engendering a lukewarm response from the paying audience. However, the film has managed to touch hearts and the Hindi version also looks to do good at the box office.