The charm of good old love stories is timeless. The box office success of Sita Ramam, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur, is a testimony to that. In the post-pandemic period, when filmmakers are struggling to bring the audience back to the theatres, this Telugu romance is winning hearts across India.
Sita Ramam, which is releasing on Amazon Prime Video on September 9, has collected Rs 42.62 Cr worldwide at the box office in 33 days. What is the mystery behind the magic that is dragging the audience to the plexes to watch Sita Ramam? Directed by Hanu Raghavapudi, and produced by Swapna Cinema and Vyjayanti Movies, the period drama transcends time and borders. This is a poignant love story centred around a letter.
Lieutenant Ram, played by the ever-so-charming Dulquer Salmaan, is an orphaned soldier stationed in Kashmir whose life changes after he receives a letter from Sita, who she claims to be his wife. Much like Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife, love brews even though Ram and Sita have never seen each other. Determined to meet his ‘wife’, Ram sets out on a journey. His encounter with Mrunal Thakur, who plays Sita, and their blossoming relationship makes for the rest of the story.
A love story set in the 1960s
Is that all? Of course, not. These events took place in 1964. But the actual timeline of Sita Ramam is set 20 years later — in 1984. Afreen, granddaughter of a Pakistani brigadier, must deliver Ram’s last letter to Sita. What connection does a Pakistani brigadier have with an Indian lieutenant? Why is Afreen (played by Rashmika Mandanna) chosen to deliver that letter? Does she crack the mystery of who Sita is?
Hanu Raghavapudi unravels the web of suspense in this heartrending film, and turns a mundane, run-off-the-mill tale into a visual spectacle. From the breathtaking landscapes of Kashmir valley to the earthy locales of Andhra Pradesh, the visual poetry on screen makes Sita Ramam a delightful watch. Credit goes to cinematographers P.S. Vinod and Shreyaas Krishna for bringing out the beauty of the rough terrains of the valley so magnificently.
The winning combo of Dulquer, Mrunal and Rashmika
Dulquer and Mrunal are the real show-stealers in Sita Ramam. Their effortless chemistry adds to the visual aesthetic of the scenes. They are so invested in their roles that Lieutenant Ram and Sita Mahalakshmi feel like actual people, in flesh and blood. Mrunal looks gorgeous in her retro look, carrying an aura of pious innocence around her. Them apart, Rashmika is sincere as an obstinate young woman on a journey of self-discovery.
The music of the film acts as the glue that holds the love story together. Composed by Vishal Chandrasekhar, the songs have a touch of the good ol’ days. The orchestration adds dollops of nostalgia to the mix. Even the choice of singers has the charm of the era portrayed on screen. For example, S.P. Charan will most certainly remind you of the legendary S.P. Balasubramanian in Inthandham. And like icing on the cake, the costumes by Sheetal Sharma, and the art decoration by Irfan Rashid Sheikh add to the old-world charm.
The bit that becomes a tad tiring
However, where Sita Ramam falters is in balancing the love story with the message of humanity that the makers want to deliver. In some places, the narrative becomes predictable, and the twists do not have the intended impact. In one sequence, a character tells Afreen that there is nothing wrong in loving one’s country but one must not harbour hatred for their neighbouring nations. To deliver this message, the politics of identity and nationalism is stretched to the seams, making it a tad tiring. But the faith the film places on the inherent good in man helps you get over these flaws.
You can stream the Telugu-language Sita Ramam – along with dubs in Malayalam and Tamil — on Amazon Prime Video from September 9.