Sita Ramam is not just the love story between a man and a woman – it is about love for the country and humanity beyond class and religion
The fiery Pakistani girl studying in London is forced to go on a quest of an Indian woman Sita Mahalakshmi. Her aim is to deliver a letter from Lieutenant Ram from Indian Army written some 20 years ago. This is the last wish of her grandfather, a Pakistani Army Major Abdul Tariq.
Afreen hates India and Indians, which makes it that much more difficult for her to travel to India to look out for Sita, who is believed to be from Noorjahan Palace in Hyderabad. Why a Hindu stayed at a Muslim palace and how come no one remembers her, why is a Pakistani army officer keen that she deliver the letter – are just few of the many questions that trouble Afreen. Questions are answered as the screenplay gives way to surprising plot twists dotted by the story of the past, unfolding one of the most beautiful romances we have witnessed on the silver screen.
Afreen learns about the brave officer Ram, an orphan who becomes a hero when he saves a village from being burnt down. People learn he is an orphan, and begin to send letters to him – some as mother, sister and there is one that catches his eye. It is a love letter from Sita, who calls herself his wife. In the process of replying to the love filled letters he falls in love, and all he knows is her name. He eventually meets and follows her to Hyderabad where he assumes she teaches classical dance to the princess. Love blossoms as beautiful songs play in the background. And, art, choreography, cinematography come together to create a stunning cinematic experience. That the film is shot majorly in Kashmir is something one can see as a plus throughout the film.
Parallel to this love story is the confidential mission Ram is on with Brigadier Vishnu (Sumanth), and this mission ends up being life changing for him. Characters come and go, each of these well defined, and bring something vital to the film; Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vennela Kishore, Murali Sharma, Prakash Raj, Bhoomika Chawla, Rukmini Vijay Kumar…
Strength of the screenplay that glides between the timelines, and shifting narratives makes ‘Sita Ramam’ an effortless watch. Rashmika Mandanna, is far from her playful self in this role of the ever scowling, unfriendly Afreen. Helping her in her search is Balaji – the Hyderabadi with the gift of gab – and Tharun Bhascker plays this role easily winning over the audience with his timely retorts. Dulquer is a heartthrob and continues to be a delight to watch. Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal make for the love Jodi of the year. She in her beautiful floral chiffons and he in his high waisted pants and formal half sleeved shirts woo each other, tease one another and despite a big secret she is yet to reveal to her Ram – there is always magic happening when you see them on screen. As is the case with Swapna Cinema and Vyjayathi Movies cinematically the canvas of Sita Ramam is beautiful, and visually rich. And, because this is the story that happens between 1960s and 1980s, there is a nostalgic factor adding to the charm.
Sita Ramam is not just the love story between a man and a woman – it is about love for fellow human being beyond religion, class and boundary – it is about love for humanity. That the film showcases a slice of Hyderabad history in not just showing the luxurious Falaknuma palace and the streets of old Hyderabad recreated for the film – but also the syncretic culture is endearing to Hyderabadis and eye opening for the uninitiated.
Sita Ramam directed by Hanu Raghavapudi ticks all the right notes. Music by Vishal Chandrasekhar for the songs and the background score is top class with the legendary Sitrarama Sastry penning a few of the songs. Love is beyond differences, class, or caste. And films that have recreated the beauty of love and the joy and pain that are associated with it in a way it touches hearts, have remained classics.