There are bad films and then there are Akshay Kumar films that introduce the audience to a whole new low. We saw an example of this phenomenon in Samrat Prithviraj recently, and now, we see this abysmal level of filmmaking in Ram Setu as well. In its entirety, this film can be summed up as a lesson in “religious people good, all others bad…or at least misguided.” Directed by Abhishek Sharma, Ram Setu stars the saviour of humankind (and now gods) Akshay Kumar, Jacqueline Fernandes, Nushrratt Bharuccha, M Nassar, Satya Dev, and others.
An annoyingly predictable plotline
An evil shipping industrialist, Indrakant, is trying to break the Ram Setu for his own interests in collusion with other evil ministers of the Indian government. It is clearly established in the beginning that the evil government predates the current one. For obvious reasons, of course. Anyway, to negate the religious significance of the Ram Setu, Indrakant employs the services of Dr. Aryan Kulshreshtha (Akshay Kumar), an atheist and disgraced archaeologist. As the archaeologist begins to find proof that the Ram Setu was built during Lord Ram’s supposed time on earth and was not formed solely by nature, the evil industrialist plots to kill him in strife-ridden Sri Lanka.
Akshay Kumar’s character is as predictable as the rising of the sun. The poor, misguided scientist who believes only in facts is reformed through his own work to believe in the Ramayana. His journey from atheism to faith is, of course, supported by “facts” and encounters with gods. Since this is an Akshay Kumar film, there is a lot of action involved in which the protagonist, repeatedly, turns out to be the hero.
Nushrratt Bharuccha plays Gayatri, a history professor and Aryan’s religious wife who keeps telling him that faith should matter more than facts. She is, obviously, proven right. Jacqueline Fernandes plays Sandra, a Goan environmental scientist, whose makeup and unexplained American accent are always on point throughout the film. There isn’t much to say about the actors’ performances except that it makes Ram Setu even more unwatchable than it already was.
Ram Setu also offers some of the worst visual effects to ever come out of Bollywood and makes one realise the urgent need for some form of quality control in the studios. In certain instances, Ram Setu looks like an amateur production by students of a film school. And not even the kind that would score top grades. Science goes for a complete toss in this overly simplistic attempt at making a desi Indiana Jones that appeals to the religious propaganda-driven politics in the country today. In case you have any doubt about the purpose behind Ram Setu, the contrast in the soundtrack should be enough to convince you. When the archaeologist is in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the music is unmistakably the kind that is supposed to scare you. And the scenes at Ram Setu or other related sites are set to inspirational, god-will-save-you tunes.
A boring, chaotic mess of a film
We don’t know what the filmmakers of Ram Setu wanted to achieve, but what they have produced is a jumble of Iron Man, Indiana Jones, and Akshay Kumar’s endless god complex. Watching Ram Setu makes one feel that they wrote a script and included broad plot points but lost interest while developing it. And the poorly disguised nickname and characteristics of the man who saves the scientists and guides them to the truth of Ram Setu just add to the thoughtlessness of this film.
The team of Ram Setu played it smart by releasing this film the day after Diwali when religious sentiments are still on a high. This move is perhaps Ram Setu‘s only hope because, on a normal Friday, this painfully slow cringe fest would have been laughed out of the theatres.
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