Adipurush, a pretentious 2023 Indian mythological action film, shamelessly capitalizes on the revered Hindu epic Ramayana. Directed and co-written by Om Raut, the movie is a blatant attempt by T-Series and Retrophiles to cash in on the popularity of religious themes. Shot in both Hindi and Telugu, the film stars Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon, Sunny Singh, and Devdutta Nage.
The movie claims to be based on the revered Hindu epic “Ramayana,” but I must say, this adaptation is nothing short of a disappointment and arguably the worst version of the mythology I’ve ever encountered.
From the very beginning, it becomes evident that the filmmakers have taken significant liberties with the source material, leaving the characters devoid of their original essence. The portrayal of Lord Ram in the introduction scene, engaging in a fight with a Skeletor-ripoff, is a clear indicator of the film’s lack of faithfulness to the epic.
The dialogues in the movie are even more appalling, with Lord Ram delivering motivational speeches as if he is a mass Telugu hero, completely detracting from the sanctity of the character. Moreover, the lines given to other characters feel completely out of place and unrealistic, making it difficult to imagine them uttering such words.
While the songs may receive some praise for their composition, their placement and execution within the film fail to redeem the overall experience. The disjointed manner in which many scenes are presented only adds to the frustration, such as the unimaginable choice of showing Indrajith killing Sita in front of Lord Ram just before the war begins, contradicting the original sequence from the epic.
One of the most egregious aspects of the film is how the characters have been rewritten and executed, turning them into offensive caricatures of their former selves. This lack of respect for the source material and its characters further compounds the film’s failure to capture the essence of the beloved epic.
Characters and Performances
Lord Ram’s characterization in this movie is a complete departure from the noble and composed soul we know from the original epic. Instead, he appears to be a product of a mass Telugu film, displaying unnecessary aggression and resorting to violence without any hint of the compassion he is renowned for.
Lakshmana’s portrayal is equally disappointing, reduced to a mere tool who seems to have no understanding of his elder brother. Throughout the film, Lord Ram disregards Lakshmana’s counsel, rendering him little more than an inconsequential third wheel to the story.
On the positive side, Hanuman stands out as one of the few characters done justice in this adaptation. While there are moments when his performance feels awkward, such as the odd flapping around when captured via a net in Lanka, he remains a relatively well-executed character compared to the rest.
However, Sita’s role appears to be relegated to nothing more than a mesmerized spectator and the ultimate goal for Lord Ram to achieve. Her potential depth and agency are severely underutilized in this portrayal.
Ravana, the antagonist, suffers from baffling and random actions throughout the film. Far from being depicted as the demon king he is known to be, he engages in strange activities like feeding meat to his pet-manbat-like creature or indulging in blacksmithing. Furthermore, the movie takes liberties with his character, undermining his revered status as a devoted worshiper of Lord Shiva when he symbolically insults the deity during the Sita kidnapping scene where he breaks the Rudraksha with his biceps.
Kumbhakarna and Indrajith, important characters in the original epic, are relegated to the status of side characters with no discernible personalities or traits. This adaptation completely overlooks Kumbhakarna’s virtuous nature, leaving him devoid of any virtue or intellect.
Indrajith’s depiction as a Speedster, similar to “The Flash” character from DC Comics, feels out of place and outlandish, further contributing to the film’s lack of coherence.
Mandodari, portrayed by Sonal Chauhan, is given barely any screen time, and her character’s absence would have no impact on the overall narrative.
The action sequences in this movie are truly horrendous, leaving much to be desired in terms of realism and excitement. The terrible VFX used throughout the film only serves to hinder any chance of genuine engagement with the action on screen. Instead of immersing the audience in thrilling moments, the subpar visual effects constantly remind viewers that they are merely witnessing a poorly executed spectacle.
One of the most glaring issues is the complete lack of emotional connection with the characters. As a result, the action scenes become nothing more than skippable filler, failing to elicit any genuine concern or investment in the outcomes. Without a strong emotional foundation, the action loses its impact, rendering it flat and unremarkable.
The visuals and VFX in this movie are nothing short of atrocious, to the point of being nauseating. The blatant lack of realism and the poor quality of the 3D effects are highly evident, detracting from any semblance of an immersive cinematic experience.
The visual appeal of the film is also deeply flawed, as evident in the portrayal of Ashoka Vatika in Lanka. Instead of capturing the essence of the setting, it strangely resembles a location in Japan, with Cherry Blossom-like trees, further undermining the authenticity of the movie.
The depiction of Ravana is equally insulting, appearing as if he was plucked straight out of a video game rather than a mythological epic. The addition of smoke emanating from his nine heads, coupled with his bizarre conversations with them, only serves to make him less intimidating and more like a cartoonish figure. His anachronistic TikTok-like hairstyle is entirely out of place in the time period the film is set in, further detracting from the seriousness of his character.
Even the city of Lanka, supposed to be a grand and awe-inspiring location, suffers from shoddy VFX work, resembling something lazily copied and pasted from a video game and then coated with jet black paint.
The odd choice to give Lord Ram and Lakshmana thick mustaches and beards remains a baffling decision, adding unnecessary distractions to their characters and making them appear out of place in the context of the story.
The characters affected by VFX end up looking like polished plastic dolls, robbing them of any authenticity and contributing to the film’s overall lacklustre visual appeal.
Considering the massive budget of INR 700 crores, it is difficult to fathom where the funds were allocated, as the VFX and production value clearly do not justify such a substantial investment. A direct comparison to RRR, a film made with a budget of INR 550 crores, reveals that its visual effects and production values are far superior, raising serious questions about the budget management and allocation in this film.
Adipurush disappoints as a pretentious adaptation of the revered Hindu epic Ramayana. The movie’s character portrayals lack depth and authenticity, while its action sequences suffer from poor VFX and a lack of emotional connection. The visuals and production value fail to justify the substantial budget, leaving viewers questioning the film’s overall quality and execution.