Play a drinking game. Everytime any character says 'Ram Setu' in the film Ram Setu, you need to take a drink. I assure that you will be sloshed even before you reach the climax. It is almost coincidental that we have two movies that have mythology infused in extremely different ways releasing together on Diwali - Ram Setu and Thank God.
First, we are talking about Ram Setu, which is Akshay Kumar's 1563516th film of this year and would be hoping to finally crack a success after his latest track record. Having had the opportunity to see the film, here is what I thought of it-
Walking the Thin Line of Logic, Religion & Mass
What Ram Setu does is committing the classic mistake of tackling too much while juggling plenty hurdles. On one hand, it needs to display the Pharisaical nature but also justify it by showing your protagonist to be an atheist only believing in scientific facts and evidences; on one hand you need to justify one's religious inclinations with long monologues and speeches but going all out with a Hanuman reference in the climax. This leads to the film being convoluted, messy and tasking. It doesn't help that the characterisation of an array of roles is almost wafer-thin because, obviously, you need to cater to the star of the film, Kumar.
Fantastic Production Quality & Mesmerizing Locations
A huge positive for Ram Setu that might be a reason for you to to watch it on the big screen can easily be the sheer magnitude of the production design and mesmerising locations it possesses. From drone shots of greenery spread across to clean sky blue waters and the mystique attached to the caves, that is reason enough (for some) to be enamoured into this world of the debate around Ram Setu.
Flaws in Plot & Runtime
Another issue that Ram Setu faces is the incredibly banal twists that are inserted into the plot just to somehow hope that the viewer is still glued in. Time and again, Kumar's character of Dr. Aaryan, an archaeologist throws in some information smack on the face but that does nothing to elevate the execution. There are some ridiculous shocking moments which lead to an even elongated climax. That brings to the fact that, once again, the runtime becomes a huge problem with the film. Clocking 2 hours and 24 minutes with a complex storyline and no redeeming qualities, it becomes a task to sit through it.
The Music, BGM & Unwanted Parallels
Another minor positive that helps the film at a few moments is the rousing background score and the tripping Jai Shree Ram song that comes in the end credits. But even here, the loud score is so overused that you almost want to get rid of it the moment it comes on.
And of course, in a film like this that always seemed to have been inspired by some classics, the inspiration is just more than evident. Some sequences and treatment seemed to be taken straight out of the notebook of the likes of Indiana Jones or even National Treasure series.
Unlike every other instance, Jacqueline Fernandez is actually there throughout the film here and even has a constant screen presence but that doesn't translate into a meaty role as she plays third fiddle to Kumar's Aaryan. Nushrratt Bharuccha barely has anything to do but the standout performer has to be Satyadev Kancharana as AP. When it comes to Kumar, he is earnest and putting in his total effort here unlike other films lately but his act seems pedestrian at best.
Ram Setu ends up demanding two things - extreme suspension of disbelief and undivided attention. This would have been fine if it had good execution and engaging storytelling to assist it - Alas! It doesn't quite really!
Rating - **1/2 (2.5/5)