“Radhe Shyam” is a high-budget romantic period drama that features Bahubali star Prabhas and Pooja Hegde and promises a visual treat for the audience. All these factors make up the film’s selling point, because looking beyond that, the film has no point!
The film attempts to validate palmistry as a science. However, it conveniently disregards the accredited sciences of physics, medicine, pathology, and chemistry (as there was none between the main leads). It also invalidates grammar with the protagonist’s inclination towards “flirtationship.” Does the film make up for its inaccuracies through entertainment? Keep reading to find out.
‘Radhe Shyam’ Synopsis
Vikramaditya is a globally renowned palmist whose future predictions are always surefire. Having predicted his destiny as one without love or marriage, he stays at bay from relationships. However, after his rendezvous with Dr. Prerana Chakraborty on a train, he falls in love with her. Vikramaditya and Prerana get to know each other, and their love grows. Vikramaditya is now stuck in a dilemma of choosing between his one true love and the destiny he never stopped believing in.
Characterization And Narrative
Vikramaditya’s character is a pleasure seeker who enjoys flings (or, as he calls them, “flirtationship”) with women but likes to stay footloose. He is an expert in palmistry, a devoted student of Guru Paramahamsa, a perfect son, and a friend. In short, his character sums up all the cliches of the quintessential Indian male protagonist, who has everything but love, which he (also) gets eventually! Possibly due to the inadequacy of the script, Prabhas seemed uncomfortable portraying Vikramaditya. He did not make the cut for a playboy, and his uncomfortable body language screamed, “I’m too old for this”!
Prerana’s character is not far from a cliché either. She approaches random men on trains to hold her noose and let her swing outwards, driven by her wanderlust. She likes feeling the rain and the air around her and simply opens her arms to embrace it, irrespective of where she is. These are some traits that no one possesses except a mainstream Indian female lead. Prerana has a lot of free time on her hands and works as a surgeon in her spare time. She is also reluctant about relationships and prefers flings, making her the perfect fit for Vikramaditya. Except it doesn’t fit so perfectly! The two protagonists barely have any chemistry, which is the primary prerequisite for all the extreme events in the film.
The protagonists share a very 90s Bollywood romance: the boy inappropriately chases and stalks the girl, the girl initially resists and then gives in, the boy declares he doesn’t want a relationship right when the girl has fallen deeply in love, a dreamy ballroom dance out of nowhere, and a climax. Not the right fit for a mature audience!
Bhagyashree plays Vikramaditya’s mother and looks young enough to pass as his wife in the film. Hence, to make her look convincing as a mother, her character possesses all the traits of a stereotypical Bollywood “Maa”! She likes classical dancing and cooking, which in no way served the storyline. Vikramaditya’s best friend, Vedant, seems like a permanent tenant at his house; he plays a substitute son to his mother, but lets his friend rightfully steal the spotlight.
Guru Paramahamsa (played by Sathyaraj) is (supposed to be) an intimidating, scholarly teacher, and that is why there is an overbearing soundtrack every time he enters the scene. Anand Rajput (Jagapathi Babu) plays a politician who comes off as a villain at first but later turns out to be an insignificant element in the film. Sachin Khedekar plays Prerana’s uncle, a surgeon who only takes rounds in the hospital to check on her personal life. Other members of Prerana’s family only have a line or two in the entire film. The film casts many familiar faces from both Hindi and Telugu cinema but wastes their talents. The characters are so cliché that the makers didn’t even make an effort to link them properly to the main storyline (assuming the audience would just get it), which resulted in poor narration.
Production, Visuals, And Sound
From the second the film begins, the background noise is overbearing. The background music seems like an attempt to make up for the poor direction and the lackluster story. While the visuals are the bait for the audience, they look amateur and unrealistic in several scenes. One such scene is when Prerana hangs loose outside a train, and the wind keeps blowing in the wrong direction. The place where the visual effects did a good job (as it promised) was at the ship scene in the climax.
The film is based in the 1970s, but the setting randomly fluctuates between the 1700s and the early 2000s. The hospital looks like a university, has bed sheets with frills, and technology too advanced for the 1970s. Prerana’s room looks like that of a colonial heiress, where she combs her hair with her metal brush, alongside her other hobbies. The story is based in Rome (for no particular reason), but the setting does not show anything particularly Roman. Every scene in the film could pass for what Europe looks like in an average Indian’s fantasy. The cherry on the cake of this circus is when Prerana and her female colleagues enter the hospital ward with curls and pompadours, as if mocking both doctors and the 70s at the same time.
Cinematography And Direction
Even with a not-so-great storyline, good cinematography is commonplace in mainstream films these days. However, “Radhe Shyam” stands out for its primitive cinematography. Certain shots and scene cuts in the film are the kinds that stopped attracting audiences post the 90s. A few intense scenes in the film’s climax look comical and meme-worthy. The direction disrupts the flow of the narration, as if random events have been forcefully fused together to make a film.
The Language Conundrum
The makers painstakingly shot the film in Hindi and Telugu, which only adds to its clumsiness. The Hindi version of the film had mannerisms that were more familiar to the Telugu audience. The dialogues were original in some places and dubbed in others. Shooting in a single language and then dubbing the entire film would make it smoother to watch for the audience and save the makers some trouble. Prabhas looked the most uncomfortable saying the Hindi dialogues of all the other actors.
Due to the poor narration, most audiences will not even realize that the film is named Radhe Shyam to symbolize ill-fated love. Honestly, the idea behind the film was quite good and had potential. Even so, the poor execution jeopardized the film’s essence. Hence, “Radhe Shyam” is a definite “no-no” for an audience accustomed to quality cinema.
“Radhe Shyam” is a 2022 Indian Period Romance Drama film directed by K.K. Radhakrishna Kumar.