Radhe Shyam (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – A romantic drama set in Europe during the 1970s.

My Take – In some ways it still is an understatement to state that Prabhas, following the release of Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017), has garnered a profile which makes his every project into something of a colossus beast, irrespective of the genre.

While his follow-up release, Saaho (2019), was underwhelming on many levels, his latest still carries immense expectations owing to the star’s fame and good-will.

Shot simultaneously in Hindi and Telugu with two separate soundtracks and released worldwide, this Radha Krishna Kumar directorial has been mounted as an epic love story with an aim to sweep the audience off their feet. With an immense budget backing the film, the visual grandeur is undoubtedly displayed on screen. As large portions have been shot in Europe, the film is replete with lavish imagery, spectacular effects and melodic tunes.

But unfortunately, once again, marred with a shallow story and lackluster screenplay, not much of what the film serves up delivers.

Making matters worse is the film’s extreme stand to convince viewers about the truth behind palmistry, the practice of fortune-telling through the study of the palm, irrespective of one’s stand, and how it is not pseudoscience. If it hadn’t done that, this much-hyped film could have at-least been a passable one time watch.

Set in the 1970’s, the story follows Vikramaditya (Prabhas), a highly respected and celebrated palmist, who had to leave India following his prediction about Prime Minister Indra Gandhi’s Emergency declaration. Now moving around Europe, with a home in Rome where his mother (Bhagyashree) and best friend Vedant (Kunaal Roy Kapur) reside, Vikramaditya goes about with his life, but without any believe in love and marriage as it has been predicted to not be in his destiny.

However, everything changes when he meets Prerna (Pooja Hegde), a beautiful and impulsive doctor who works in a hospital run by her uncle (Sachin Khedekar), placing him in a conflict between his faith and destiny.

The main problem with the film is that it is unconvincing right from the start as it spends a great deal of time establishing how Vikramaditya is a master of his craft before deciding to backtrack for the second half, which is devoted to proving that Vikramaditya may be wrong.

Fair enough, but the methods writer-director Radha Krishna Kumar employs are painfully predictable and excruciating tortuous. Had it stuck to the novel idea it began with and made something intriguing out of it, the film could have been forgiven for trying to experiment with the genre, however unsuccessful it may have been at it.

Suffering from frail, unconvincing writing and scattered storytelling, writer-director Radha Krishna Kumar wants us to believe that the palmist may be good at his job, but life on a whole is too precious to be left at the mercy of a prognosis, and then goes on to use Prerna’s life the testing ground for that supposition.

As a viewer, you want to get engaged in the conflict the film sets, but whatever it ends up presenting just seem too juvenile, even when Prabhas is made to scale the tip of a ship stuck in a fearsome tsunami. Yes, the visual grandeur of the film is definitely worth praising.

Every single set and frame is visually splendid and visibly mounted on a big scale. Even the soundtrack from Mithoon, Amaal Malik and Manan Bhardwaj is excellent. Only if Radha Krishna Kumar had spent time on writing a better tale.

Performance wise, Prabhas is definitely not in top form, but manages to bring his usual charm to the proceedings. Even delivering the balance of toughness and vulnerability required in portions that require him to do so. Only if he hadn’t chosen to dub in his own voice in Hindi, which is mostly awkward and often takes you out.

The gorgeous Pooja Hegde compliments the aura of the film with her alluring presence and delivers a good performance. Hegde is exceptional especially in the emotional sequences and often handles the shabby script with maturity and conviction. It also helps that she shares decent chemistry with Prabhas.

The supporting cast comprising of Bhagyashree, Sachin Khedekar, Jayaram, Kunaal Roy Kapur, and Murali Sharma have little to do here. Instead in guest appearances, Jagapathi Babu and Riddhi Kumar leave a mark. On the whole, ‘Radhe Shyam’ is a meandering love sage propelled by a lackluster script and flat narration.

Directed – 

Starring – Prabhas, Pooja Hegde, Bhagyashree Patwardhan

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 138 minutes

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