Ramyug Review: Ramayan Reverently Reloaded; Kunal Kohli's Adaptation Seems Ill-Prepared For Comparisons With That Of Ramanand Sagar

Kunal Kohli's Ramyug on MX Player has a pleasant vibe to it. Read the full review here.

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Ramyug Review: Ramayan Reverently Reloaded; Kunal Kohli's Adaptation Seems Ill-Prepared For Comparisons With That Of Ramanand Sagar

First the good news. Kunal Kohli’s re-telling  of the Ramayan doesn’t compare too unfavourably with Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan which has, for all practical purposes, become the sacrosanct over the decades. It has its chronological advantage, yes. Also, audiences completely surrendered to Sagar’s cast and vision. I don’t see a similar volume of involvement with the Kunal Kohli adaptation, more so because the  “original” was re-telecast again last year. Too fresh in audiences’ minds to be ignored, Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan casts a shadow over Kohli’s faithful and reverent adaptation of  the mythology(which I  watched  faithfully and reverently  right till the embattled end).

To its credit, Ramyug has a pleasant feel and vibe to it. As long as you are not seeking an artistic or spiritual salvation in the presentation, this adaptation floats along innocuously, though admittedly some portions get more clunky than bearable. But more of that later. The series opens pleasantly enough in the Mauritian  jungles (which  adequately  stand in  for  the Ram’s banwas and for Ravan’s Lanka) with Vishwamitra(Dalip Tahil,subdued) telling Ram(Diganth Manchale, impressive enough) that it’s time he got married.

Laxman who hovers around Ram in every frame even when Sita is around, smirks knowingly. In the very next episode Ram with the omnipresent Laxman, is in Parashuram’s kingdoms asking for Sita’s hand.  Both Ram and Laxman who sported stylish beards earlier are presented clean-shaven in Sita’s  kingdom. I guess parents haven’t changed over the centuries. They still prefer clean-shaven  husbands  for their daughters.

 The Ram-Laxman  equation comes across more effectively(though Akshay Dogra’s Laxman with long  unkempt curly tresses  is a bit too Soho  to pass off as Ayodhya) than the Ram-Sita  relationship,mainly  because  Aishwarya  Ojha as  Sita is lamentably lackluster. There is  more crackling chemistry  between  Dashrath(Shishir Mishra) and Kaikeyi(Tisca  Chopra). There  is  an undercurrent  of  longing and  passion  in the way  Kaikeyi  commands  her  besotted  husband to pack off his favourite son to  the  forest for  fourteen  years.Shishir Mishra’s Dashrath  sobs convincingly for  his dear son’s banishment, drawing up a convincing case against husbands who  adore their wives.

 The  banwas features  the series’ most  unintentionally hilarious episode when Surpnakha , wearing what looks like Asha Sachdev’s costume  in Bindiya Aur Bandook lusts after Ram  right  in front of  Sita(who looks amused) and Laxman(who  looks livid). The actress playing Surpnakha(Teena Singh) seems  to have taken her come-hither  cues from  all the screen  vamps from Hindi potboilers.She is unbelievably clumsy  in her seductive design.

Luckily the  series on the  whole , escapes  the  pitfalls of  uncontrollable  puerility. Kamlesh Pandey’s dialogues are  at times better than the  material on-hand. Pandey  infuses a sense  of  contemporaneity  in the epic  tale without tampering with its rudimentary  plot points. Art director  Kunal Pawar and  cinematographer  Maneesh Chandra Bhatt avoid garishness in the  frames, making them  as aesthetic as possible given the  basically  elementary aspirations  of the presentation.

It’s the  end-game  with Ravan(Kabir Singh Dohan) that undoes  the moderately noble intentions. The  battle scenes with Ravan lacking both valour and vigour. Bad special  effects are not a problem. Tacky vision is. Also, Vivaan Bhatena’s Hanuman lacks virility, warmth and tenderness, qualities that Dara Singh so ably imbued in his personality in Ramand Sagar’s Ramayan.

Comparisons may be unfair. But if you are gutsy enough to  go where Sagar has gone before then be ready to face  the comparisons. Ramyug seems ill-prepared for this.

Image source: MX Player