‘Adipurush’ (2023) Review: Planet Of The Lord Of The Game Of Horrendous VFX And CGI


Adipurush starts with a tiring disclaimer about how the movie isn’t a faithful adaptation of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Instead, it’s the filmmaker’s take on Valmiki’s Ramayana. All of the claims that this film makes aren’t factual in any shape or form. The movie has no intention of hurting the religious sentiments of any human being. It also states that the film hasn’t been made with the intention of creating communal discord amongst all the religions and castes that reside in this country. In doing so, it makes sure that the people who are watching it view it as a movie and discuss its contents without getting into its source material. And that’s probably the only good thing about this tripe disguised as a motion picture because everything after that disclaimer is either an assault on the senses or more boring than looking at a brick wall.

Anyone who has grown up reading about the mythology of Ram, watched the 1987 Ramayan TV show or watched the Japanese anime Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama will be familiar with the story of Adipurush. In case this movie is your first tryst with the narrative, well, I feel sorry for you because Om Raut has contorted the narrative by reserving much of the central trio’s backstories for flashbacks and starting the story with Raghava (Ram), Janaki (Sita), and Shesh (Laxman) already in exile. Lankesh (Ravan) is seen praying to the gods for a long time. That’s why he is visited by Brahma and rewarded with endless power or something like that. Lankesh’s sister, Surpanakha, falls in love with Raghava and wants to marry him. But since he’s already married to Janki, he rejects Surpanakha. So, Surpanakha tries to kill Janki, and Shesh cuts off Surpanakha’s nose with his arrow. She complains to Lankesh about this and tells him to marry Janaki. Once Lankesh abducts Janaki, Raghava begins his mission to get his wife back.

Every criticism that has been leveled against the source material is out there for everyone to read, and those issues are present in Adipurush as well. Hence, I am not going to shed any more light on that because that topic deserves a whole different conversation that has little-to-nothing to do with the movie. What I do want to talk about is the screenplay by Om Raut and the dialogues by Manoj Muntashir. The overall setting of the film doesn’t look like it’s happening in contemporary times. Yet, the characters talk in a very urban way, especially when they get angry. There’s this altercation between Bajrang (Hanuman) and Indrajeet after Indrajeet sets fire to Bajrang’s tail, where it seems like the former has walked right out of a gangster flick and into this film. If Adipurush was a parody of the Ramayana, firstly, it wouldn’t have been released in this country, and secondly, it would’ve made sense for the characters to talk like that then. Since that’s not the case here, Om Raut and Manoj Muntashir should go back to the drawing board and learn how to write competent dialogues. That’s the least they can do.

If you think that asking a director like Om Raut to rethink his career because the writing in Adipurush is too bad, one glance at the VFX, the CGI, the costume design, the production design, the pacing, the direction, the editing, and the background score will convince you to agree with me. I am only assuming that he has watched the final cut of the film multiple times over the last few years since that’s what directors usually do. Yet he came to the conclusion that this circus of horrendous visuals should be released theatrically all over the world. How? Why? What about those apes made him think that they were on par with the rebooted Planet of the Apes trilogy? What about those bats and those castles made him think that they were on par with the orcs, trolls, fell beasts, and Mordor from the Lord of the Rings trilogy? What about the battle sequences made him think that they were on par with the Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones? Also, what is up with those costumes and make-up designs? I genuinely need answers. Someone with any ounce of self-respect and love for cinema cannot look at a single frame in Adipurush and state that it’s watchable because it is not. And this is the condition of the visuals after a delay. I wonder what it looked like before the alleged “improvements.”

I also wonder if they shot any of Adipurush practically because everything that’s in the background or in the foreground looks fake as hell. I won’t expect the general audience to notice the weird distortion around Saif Ali Khan’s body (because it has been disproportionately enlarged), the warbling at the feet of the actors when it comes in contact with the ground (because the ground doesn’t actually exist), or the weightlessness of the monsters during the final battle sequence (because they aren’t fighting against nothing instead of stunt people in green bodysuits). I, unfortunately, did notice all of it, and that too in slow motion. If you cut out all the slow-motion shots in the film, I think the running time will be reduced by a whole hour. Usually, slow motion is used when you want to attract the audience’s attention to something that’s truly spectacular. Om Raut and his team do it to highlight the ugliness of their film. And I know that the usual defense from the filmmakers and the “fans” regarding the visuals will be the limitations caused by budget. But tell me something. Aren’t the people making the film aware of their limitations? They know it better than we do. So, why are they constructing something that can’t be achieved with the budget they have? Do you see why that excuse doesn’t work now?

When it comes to the performances, all of them are dreadful. Prabhas has this thousand-yard stare, which is supposed to be stoic, but it seems like he’s baked out of his mind. He doesn’t do his own running, that too in an epic action film. Can you believe that? Tom Cruise, at the age of 60 and with multiple injuries all over his body, does all of his running. And this guy pretends to run in the medium-close-up shots while his stunt double does the heavy lifting. And the less I say about his fight scenes, the better. In the Hindi version, Prabhas’s voice has been dubbed by Sharad Kelkar, who seems to be emotionlessly reading lines off of a paper. Kriti Sanon seems to think that her character is from South Delhi, hence the accent and terrible dialogue delivery. Sunny Singh imbues his character with a thick Delhi accent, which is surprising to hear, but not in a good way. The two actors who are kind of memorable but for the wrong reasons are Saif Ali Khan and Devdutta Nage. I have no clue what they are doing, but they are certainly doing something that’s not synonymous with the word “wooden.” If I have to judge the CGI characters based on the animation, I’ll say that they’re too bad to even look at.

In addition to the proximity of their release dates, The Flash and Adipurush have a lot in common. Both of them feature Hanuman. Both of them have characters who can move at lightning-fast speeds. Both of them have horrible visual effects. And both of them are two of the worst movies of this year. Well, in my opinion, Adipurush beats The Flash by being nearly 3 hours of unadulterated torture that you shouldn’t inflict upon your worst enemy. If you do hate someone, though, you should book them a ticket for Adipurush. If you truly hate someone, you should send them for an AdipurushThe Flash double feature. They’ll surely suffer some kind of psychological damage and think twice before continuing their enmity with you. But the people who should be doing the real thinking are the ones who are making movies like this, which are nothing but a blot on the history of cinema and an insult to art in general. Put your politics and agendas to rest and tell good stories in the limited time you have on this planet.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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Someone with any ounce of self-respect and love for cinema cannot look at a single frame in Adipurush and state that it's watchable because it is not.'Adipurush' (2023) Review: Planet Of The Lord Of The Game Of Horrendous VFX And CGI