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Adipurush review: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon can’t salvage this tacky, soulless retelling of Ramayana

The terrible visual aesthetics and the absence of drama contribute to the viewer’s agony

Adipurush review: Prabhas, Kriti Sanon can’t salvage this tacky, soulless retelling of Ramayana

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024



Janaki, the wife of Raghav, is abducted by the ten-headed demon Lankesh. How far will Raghav, his brother Lakshman, Hanuman and his army go to rescue Janaki and vanquish Lankesh?


How does one reimagine an epic tale that has been dissected across so many forms and levels over centuries and make it relevant to a modern-day viewer? Tanhaji director Om Raut doesn’t view the Ramayana as a drama but more as an action-adventure with a renewed visual aesthetic. When the disclaimer says that Adipurush isn’t meant to be an authoritative representation of the epic, you better take their words seriously.


While succinctly conveying the early years of Rama and how he’s denied the throne through a song in the title credits, the film begins when he, Sita and Lakshmana need to spend the next few years in a forest. The director chooses a mix of live-action and motion picture technology to create a world replete with forests, water bodies, hyper-masculine men and a wide variety of flora and fauna.

There’s a definite effort from Om Raut to have a distinct directorial voice in this retelling of the Ramayana but it is devoid of originality, visual artistry, compelling characterisation and most importantly, emotional depth. The film is packed with references - from The Lord of The Rings to Game of Thrones to Planet of The Apes to The Hulk and The Junglebook - but they do little to enhance the viewing experience.

The film tugs at your heartstrings when Rama and Sita are like any other couple in the middle of a forest having a good time in the lap of nature. Adipurush sets your expectations soaring when there’s a stunning sequence where Jatayu tries to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana and his bat-shaped vehicle - it’s probably the only scene in the film where you sense vulnerability.

While transporting you to Ravana’s kingdom, Raut opts for a grayscale aesthetic, signalling doom. Ravana alternates from blue to black suits, shifts from short hair to long hair and even feeds meat to a beastly creature. A bunch of fat snakes offer a massage to the king. The director fails to understand that he can’t afford to take cinematic liberties beyond a point in a retelling of a well known epic.

Raut struggles to build a divine aura in the ambience or generate any momentum in the proceedings. The absence of any tension in the storytelling after Sita is abducted is jarring. The (horribly) digitally recreated avatars of Vali, Sugreeva, Jambavan are undeniable distraction and the film goes too far in antagonising Ravana, Surpanaka and the silliness is hard to ignore.

The dialogues are so casual and petty that you could mistake this to be another regular mass film set in a different timeline. Besides a series of absurd creative choices, Adipurush is an oversimplified black-and-white tale of good versus evil. The characters only talk in binaries - yes or no, for or against - and there’s no space for nuance or drama.

If Rama is an embodiment of generosity with a big heart, Ravana, sporting a summer cut with a partly shaven beard, represents monstrosity. There’s very little attempt to address the moral complexities of the characters, resulting in a shallow narrative. While there are sporadic moments that are enjoyable in the first hour, the post-intermission portions are a patience tester.

Whenever there’s an element of adventure involved, Raut’s enthusiasm shows - the Jatayu sequence, the construction of the Ram Setu, Hanuman crossing the seas to meet Sita, how he burns down Lanka with his tail and valiantly brings down the Sanjivani mountain to rescue Lakshmana. The use of the riddles in the first hour to display Hanuman’s wit is interesting too. However, these silver-linings in Adipurush are far few and between.

Prabhas is a right fit for Rama in terms of his persona and physique, but it’s disappointing that filmmakers continue to look at him in his Baahubali mould with little awareness of his career and strengths as a performer. He showcases an element of restraint and composure that works well though his portrayal desperately needed more enthusiasm. Sunny Singh holds his own in a brief role.

If there’s a major surprise in Adipurush, it is with Kriti Sanon’s graceful act. While Raut does barely any justice to establishing the sanctity of her character, Kriti’s performance is a reflection of how far she’s come as a performer. One can only feel for Saif Ali Khan given how he’s trapped in such a futile exercise of a film - it’s just a nightmare he’d want to erase from his memory at the earliest.

Devdatta Nage’s appearance and performance lack authenticity and sincerity. Vatsal Seth, Sonal Chauhan have nothing much to do as Meghnad and Mandodari. The ‘Jai Shri Ram’ background score does its part to salvage quite a few sequences but the songs, so integral to any interpretation of an epic in mainstream cinema, are a huge disappointment. The production design with the terrible VFX and colour-scheme are an insult to the senses.


Adipurush is easily the least impressive interpretation of Ramayana in Telugu cinema. In an era when there’s so much debate about gender equations and religion in political discourse, there was a lot that the film could’ve done to stay true to the times. The viewer’s woes are compounded by terrible creative choices, mostly to do with the visual aesthetics and the absence of drama. Watch the film only if you have a good stock of pain balms. Hey Ram!


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