Love transcends all barriers, including religion, politics and language. That is the main driving emotion of director Hanu Raghavapudi’s latest romantic movie Sita Ramam. In a way, in this film is the director’s reimagination of Ramayana, which is set against the volatile backdrop of modern-day geopolitics. Afreen (Rashmika Mandanna), a Pakistan national, takes up the role of Hanuman from the epic, as she carries a message from Rama to Sita.
Afreen is a proud Pakistani, who is politically conditioned to respond negatively to anything Indian. In a fit of anger, she destroys the car of a rich Indian philanthropist in London. The victim of Afreen’s violent action gives her two options: admit her mistake and apologies or pay a million rupees. If she can’t do both, she may end up in jail.
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Afreen agrees to pay the rich man, instead repenting. So she heads back to Pakistan to meet her wealthy grandfather and pay the fine. The catch is she hasn’t spoken to him in years due to a disagreement and finds out that he has passed away. Not to worry, her grandfather’s estate is enough to solve her financial problems. Again, there is a catch: She has to first finish do an errand for hime. The mission is simple: take the letter written by an Indian soldier, Ram, to the woman he loves, Sita, in India. If Afreen fails to do this, she can kiss her family’s fortune goodbye. She doesn’t seem to have much of an option now, does she?
Afreen takes a flight to India, a journey that transforms her into a person who understands you can love someone, without hating the others.
Hanu weaves the narrative around a beautiful message of the shared history of love, peace and brotherhood. But, the theme that was supposed to be the film’s biggest strength, becomes its glaring weakness: romance. The way romance develops between Ram (Dulquer Salmaan) and Sita (Mrunal Thakur) feels forced. The back and forth conversation between the two wide-eyed young people is uninteresting and feels overly stretched. It’s naïve, and beggars belief.
What this film needed was a lot more focus on the love story and less on presenting Ram as this impeccable man of integrity. A director doesn’t need 10 scenes to establish one fact. If done right, a single shot is enough to establish that.
However, the screen presence of Dulquer and Mrunal does add a little vigour to the otherwise dull flow of narration. The film majorly rests on the good looks of its actors to make it tolerable.