Ram Setu (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – An atheist archaeologist turned believer must race against time to prove the true existence of the legendary Ram Setu before evil forces destroy the pillar of India’s heritage.

My Take – While he spend a good part of the last decade triggering the public by choosing to star mostly in patriotic themed features, it looks like Akshay Kumar has decided to once again shift gears by now moving towards films with religious undertones. Trying really hard to ride on the emotions of the majority of the Hindus with each new venture.

His latest, though mounted as an adventure film on the lines of the Indiana Jones franchise, draws from the controversy around the Sethusamudram Project and Pushkar Bhatnagar’s little-known 2003 book where the writer attempted to date the era of Lord Ram on the basis of planetary positions described in Valmiki’s Ramayan. Aiming to construct a bridge between faith and science, and between myth and oral history, the film seemed to have a right approach to celebrate India by invoking its glorious, specifically Hindu, mythology, culture and heritage.

Unfortunately, despite an interesting premise at its core, the Abhishek Sharma (Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran, Tere Bin Laden) directorial suffocates under its faults and ends up becoming a dull affair that is poorly written, shoddily mounted and badly acted. Yes, the idea is right, but the film presents the faith-versus-science debate in such a ham-fisted and heavy-handed manner that it just becomes impossible to sit through for 143 minutes without cringing.

Unsurprising, as the film is based on a story by creative producer Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who recently helmed the disastrous Samrat Prithviraj, and is known as a creative force who works in the realm of fiction to provide legitimacy to the current ruling party and paint the previous governments in dark shades.

There’s also a palpable eagerness to present the film as a commercial entertainer, but the drama scores so low on both emotions and thrills, that it becomes obvious the director Sharma was not interested in delivering something intelligent or even believable.

Set in 2007, the story follows Aryan Kulsheshtra (Akshay Kumar), a celebrated liberal Indian archaeologist, who is working with his Pakistani and Afghan counterparts to save the Buddhist heritage in Bamyan, before he is sent by those in power to Tamil Nadu to save the interests of a shipping tycoon Indrakant (Nassar).

Hired to prove that Ram Setu aka Adam’s Bridge, a chain of natural limestone shoals off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka, was not built by Lord Ram and his Vanar Sena, but instead naturally formed by sedimentation over the years, Aryan, an atheist who believes only in science, ends up giving a report that also questions of the existence of Lord Ram.

Suspended due to his controversial statements, despite appeals from his wife, Professor Gayatri (Nushrratt Bharuccha), Aryan ends up accepting Indrakant’s offer to his means to find scientific evidence of Ram Setu’s natural structure. Accompanied by Dr. Sandra (Jacqueline Fernandez) and AP (Satyadev Kancharana), a mysterious Sri Lankan guide, Aryan finds himself in a desperate race to gather evidence.

Myth, religion, reality, belief, the film initially seems to align all these elements together, with the intention of the film laid out for everyone to see, the conversion of the secular, science-minded Aryan into a believer and convince the viewer of the weight of that belief. Unfortunately, the convoluted narrative tests your patience to the extent that neither you immerse yourself in the plot nor do you care about the characters at all.

There is so much going on yet, none of it ever hooks you in. The scenes that are meant to tug at our heartstrings fall painfully flat, devoid of even an iota of emotional standing. Illogical sequences also regularly get in the way; there are truly no limits to what defines outlandish in this adventure sans any thrills.

Parts of the film, pretend to be science fiction. Experts are huddled in a floating laboratory aboard a ship out at sea and terms such as carbon dating, sonar imaging and global warming are bandied about. But forget science, this isn’t even proper, passable fiction. Making matters worse are the standard of VFX which are below par throughout.

Performance wise, Akshay Kumar seems to be giving it all, but in a film so overtly dependent on his stardom’s crutches, there’s only so much that he can do. Jacqueline Fernandez and Nushrratt Bharuccha are alright in roles that doesn’t require them to do much. In supporting roles, Telugu actor Satyadev Kancharana makes a decent debut in Hindi cinema, Nassar is apt, and Pravesh Rana hams it up. On the whole, ‘Ram Setu’ is a pedestrian action adventure that is interested only in hammering home its message.

Directed – 

Starring – Akshay Kumar, Jacqueline Fernandez, Nushrratt Bharuccha

Rated – PG

Run Time – 143 minutes

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