|Release date: 17 November 2011|
|Director : Bapu|
|Producer : Yalamanchali Sai Babu|
|Music Director : Ilayaraja|
|Starring: Balakrishna, Nayantara, Srikanth, Sai Kumar, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Jaya Sudha, Murali Mohan, K. R. Vijaya, Brahmanandam.|
Accomplished filmmaker Bapu is so enchanted by the magic of Ramayana that he has already made movies like Sampoorna Ramayanam, Sita Kalyanam, and Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddham , all of which are based on Ramayana. It isn’t surprising that he has chosen his favorite topic yet again to make Sriramarajyam. He also managed a casting coup of sorts getting accomplished actors like Akkineni Nageshwara Rao, Balakrishna along with Nayantara, Srikanth etc. to work for his film. It is imperative that the film turns out exactly what we expect of it, – nothing less, nothing more.
What’s it about:
Sriramarajyam starts exactly after Rama, along with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, returns to Ayodhya from Lanka. His family is overjoyed, and people celebrate as he is made the Emperor of Ayodhya, and Rama promises equality and prosperity to all his wards. Soon Rama realizes one thing – that even after going through a Agni Pareeksha (Chastity Test) people still doubt Sita, who was forcefully kidnapped and held for a year by the cruel Ravana. Also Rama is miffed that they are using his acceptance of Sita to degrade him. To prove that he is the true king of people, Rama orders his brother Lakshmana to leave Sita in the forests, close to the quarters of Sage Valmiki. The drama unfolding because of Rama’s decision, and how it changes the way the world looks at Rama completes Sriramarajyam.
Because almost everyone is acquainted with the story, it is imperative that the task for the filmmaker and the entire cast becomes doubly challenging. As far as actors are concerned, Balakrishna is one of the few Telugu actors today who have the ability and experience to act in mythological movies. He tones down his commercial movie histrionics to play Lord Rama, who cannot take the pain of separation from his beloved wife Sita. Nayanatara plays the perfect Sita – idealistic, beautiful and tragic. Legendary actor Akkineni Nageshwara Rao brings a serenity and subtlety to his character Valmiki. While Srikanth may have very little screen presence, he portrays Lakshmana with honesty and a little volatility, two characteristics that are usually associated with Lakshmana. The children who play Lava, Kusha and especially Balaraju have done decent jobs too. Roja has an important small role too.
That the likes of Brahmandam, K.R.Vijaya, Balayya, A.V.S. and many other actors have been sidelined showcases how difficult it must have been to not only write Sriramarajyam, but also cast it well.
With the movie titled Sriramarajyam one would expect that the movie would touch the topic of how Lord Rama ruled his people, and the kind of emotions he went through to get it. Only first half of the movie deals with this sort of expectation, and second half becomes Bapu’s rendition of Lava Kusha episode (Uttara Kanda of Ramayana), than Rama’s administration problems. For those who have seen a movie like Lava Kusha, or followers of Hindi serial Ramayan, the movie tells nothing new. But that said, the entire Lava Kusha episode in this movie is dealt with honesty. Obviously the pathos felt by both Rama and Sita, and the people surrounding them, will definitely strike a chord with almost everyone.
All the praises and the brickbats for Sriramarajyam should start and end with director Bapu. Every pose Nayantara strikes, every move Balakrishna makes seem to be closely staged by the legendary director. Also deserving some applause is the screenplay by Bapu’s close companion, Mullapudi Ramana. Infact when almost everything seems to go according to known story, Ramana uses the character of Hanuman to lighten the tragic moods that the story keeps touching more often than not. As said earlier, when everyone knows the story, it becomes extremely difficult to pick scenes, but the Bapu-Ramana combination works yet again.
Gelling well with the vision of Bapu is Ravindra’s art work. He comes up with huge sets, though some of it isn’t consistently matched by the visual effects team. However, the VFX department does deserve a clap for the kind of effects they used in the entire ‘Bhoodevi Episode’. Camera work by PRK Raju is decent, and the magic of editing could have worked even better if some visible glitches were avoided. Illayaraja’s music is the movie’s biggest strength, and it is his tunes, effects and score that takes the movie closer to the hearts of audiences.
At a time when dumb-wittedness in the name of comedy runs a lot in Telugu movies, Sriramarajyam is an audacious attempt. The reason is simple – the final part of Ramayana is a tragedy of sorts and Sriramarajyam is completely based on this episode. The movie is a must watch for everyone – both for those who know the story and for those who don’t. Don’t be surprised if it raises more questions about Ramayana. Questions are good!
Please Note: Personally the reviewer felt that Sriramarajyam is an unusual film, without any commercial elements, that needs to be appreciated by one and all. Rating has hence been avoided by the reviewer.
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