Radhe Shyam review: All hollow posturing no substance  

Written By: Subhash K Jha WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Mar 12, 2022, 02:14 PM(IST)

Radhe Shyam - Theatres Photograph:( Twitter )

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This is exactly the question that comes to mind many times as one sits transfixed to the very strange goings-on in 'Radhe Shyam'. Is this bird or a plane or pain in the nether regions?

Starring Prabhas, Pooja Hegde

Written  & Directed by  Radha Krishna Kumar

Rating: * ½

Vikramaditya, our hero in this Tsunami of a film, can tell the future. He reads Mrs Gandhi's (yes THE Mrs G's) palm with a monkish calm and declares that she would soon declare an emergency in the country. The  onscreen Mrs G raises an eyebrow into her shrub of whitened hair and asks  Vikramaditya, ‘Do you even know what you are saying?’

This is exactly the question that comes to mind many times as one sits transfixed to the very strange goings-on in 'Radhe Shyam'. Is this bird or a plane or pain in the nether regions?

Also read: I am a romantic at heart: Prabhas on new film 'Radhe Shyam' and more

Tell tell. What is this meant to be? Prabhas the superstar who can do no wrong, says it is a “pure” love story. But sorry, there is nothing pure about the style in which writer-director Radha Krishna Kumar has mounted his monumentally misfired romance, so off-kilter it will put you off palmistry and all things mistry including chemistry, palmistry and Amit Mistry for all times to come.

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Yes, I am trying to be facetious. It is a survival instinct I use when I am in deep pain. Like losing a loved one to Covid. Or watching a film so unbearably self-important and so laughably intent on being intense that the whole endeavour seems designed to bring down every love trope that you have ever seen in any film on love from 'Romeo & Juliet' to 'Love Aaj Kal'.

Also read: Will 'Radhe Shyam' click in Hindi? Trade analysts kick in

By the way, 'Radhe Shyam' is not 'Love Aaj Kal'. It is love in the 1970s set in the mongrelized imagination of some strange art designer who suggests a marriage of baroque with plastic. The costumes are largely gauzy gowns for Pooja Hedge and light polo necks with tight trousers for Prabhas accompanied by several accessories like scarves belts, a brooch, antique phone sets and fancy crockery that suggest an affluent lifestyle.

Sadly the frames convey a sterile emptied-out feeling as if the art designer and other technicians had built a lifesize doll’s house with Barbie emotions to match. Prabhas and Ms Hegde whisper sweet-nothings, literally, to one another: it's all about posing posturing and masquerading.

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This is all a masquerade of real love, with highfalutin ideas on destiny impinging on the immaculate artificiality of the going-on like a dollop of homemade honey thrown over a messy gooey melting mound of factory-made chocolate ice cream. The lead players look completely uninvolved with one another and with the ersatz intensity and intimacy that the storytelling generates like electric fire logs, with leaping flames that are just for show.

As for the supporting cast, some good actors like Sachin Khedekar, Sathyaraj and Jagapathi Babu are reduced to mere caricatures. The hospital where a part of the drama unfolds resembles a museum in transition with every disease from hypochondria to cancer converted into comic relief.

In the end, only one of the two love birds is destined to live. And we really don't care which one it is.

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