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Romance is passé among the current generation, it is said. The hostility to saccharine sweet romance is so much that even if romantic love is one among the elements in a film, it is dubbed a romance movie. Hanu Raghavapudi’s Sita Ramam seeks to buck this trend by telling a classical love story in the mould of Hollywood blockbuster Titanic. Romance pours on the screens where Sita Ramam plays. At the same time, incongruously enough, the story suggests not so peaceful intentions since the story also features the Pakistan Army and terrorist organizations.

Dulquer Salman is Lieutenant Ram of the Madras Regiment. He stops a riot orchestrated by the Pakistani Army in Kashmir sometime in 1985. The radio talks about his valorous deeds and we learn that brave officer has no family.

At which point, people from all over India offer to be members of his family. One letter writer offers to be his brother, another his son and so on. One letter writer offers to be his wife and is signed, Sita. Ram is intrigued enough to try and locate her. His quest to find his Sita bears fruit and he does meet Sita, (Mrunal Thakur). Without knowing her background, he falls in love with her.

Meanwhile, Afrin, a Pakistani woman (Rashmika Mandanna), brings with her the letter that Lt. Ram wrote to Sita to India since mysteriously the letter has reached Abu Thariq (Sachin Khedekar) in Pakistan. Thariq who has served in the Pakistan Army in the 1960s, sends his daughter, Afrin, on a mission with the letter.

Romance pours on the screens where Sita Ramam plays. At the same time, incongruously enough, the story suggests not so peaceful intentions since the story also features the Pakistan Army and terrorist organizations

Sita Ramam’s screenplay abounds in clichés. Yet, the director Raghavapudi manages to retain audience interest. Cinematographers P S Vinod and Sreyas Krishna have framed each scene with the most eye-catching visuals. The editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao provides seamlessness and clarity. Vishal Chandrasekar’s background score and four songs sync with the idea of a classic love story.

Dulquer has dipped into all his romantic reserves and brought them out for his fans. Telugu film director Bhaskar and Rashmika Mandanna receive much attention too. Rashmika, in particular, plays an out of character role.

The Dulquer-Mrunal meeting in Kashmir forms the crux of the story. But the sequence defies conventional logic. The film seeks to convey the message of Hindu-Muslim amity. But the screenplay does seem to lean towards Hindutva.

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(Photo credit: Uday Bhasker- Twitter)

Afrin hates India viscerally. She sets fire to a car that sports the Indian tricolor. Afrin comes to India in search of a Sita Mahalaxmi as per the letter given by her father. But the name Sita Mahalaxmi contains a mystery.

Telugu films are often full of legends, myths and stories drawn from the Puranic lore as well as wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita. But all that comes packaged with cavorting dances, violence and ribald comedy. Sita Ramam steers clear of all this. Though the names Sita and Rama are drawn from the Ramayana there is no other reference to the epic.

Though a Telugu film, the Tamil spoken in the film is flawless. Credit for that goes to Madan Karky

A Hindu man loves a Muslim woman though the film is supposed to be about Sita and Ram. Unveiling that intrigue would be a spoiler here.

Sita Ramam seems to portray the ideal Hindu woman as someone who wears the bindi and saree, and is a storehouse of all “womanly” qualities. Since Sita has these qualities, she is accepted as a Hindu though she is actually not. The film doesn’t tread on risky grounds such as whether partners in marriage cannot accept each other’s faith without question. The director takes the easy way out, one that speaks of sexism.

Though a Telugu film, the Tamil spoken in the film is flawless. Credit for that goes to Madan Karky.

For all its dubious values, Sita Ramam should be ranked along with landmark romantic films such as 96, Autograph and Kadhal. A classical love story without a smidgen of violence nor vulgarity – that’s Sita Ramam.


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