Ramayana The Epic is a faithful but dreary retelling of one of our favourite and most familiar stories. Since almost everyone in a theatre knows the plot, the pleasure in this animated version can only come from the telling of the tale.
Debutant director Chetan Desai gives us impressive visuals, grand battles and perhaps India?s first Lord Ram with six-pack abs. But the plodding screenplay undermines these efforts. Ramayana The Epic doesn?t soar enough or arouse the requisite shock and awe.
Thankfully, the animation here is more sophisticated than the average mythological such as Bal Ganesh or Ghatothkach.
Desai and his team of 400 animators have created a richly detailed world ? so Ravan is always clad in various layers of gold armour and lives in a golden fortress perched on the peak of a mountain.
There?s also a ferociously etched battle between Bali and Sugreev who try to trump one another in pouring rain. But despite the arduous labour that has so obviously gone into making the film, the characters don?t come alive.
Manoj Bajpai voices Ram, Juhi Chawla voice Sita and Ashutosh Rana voices Ravan but none of these fine actors manage to imbue the drawings with any personality.
Poor Ravan, like any age-old Hindi movie villain, is either snarling or laughing. Desai tries to pack as much of the sprawling epic as he can into a 104-minute film. So, the narrative feels episodic, almost like a best of Ramayana, rather than organic. I also wondered why a film aimed at children needed to have severed heads and why the eyebrows of every character, especially the wicked Manthara, seemed to have a life of their own.
Ramayana is an ambitious step toward better homegrown cinema for children. I just wish it had more crackle. I?m going with two and a half stars.