Radhe Shyam movie review: High on grandeur, low on content

Fundamentally, the conflict point of Radhe Shyam is - Which is greater? Science or Astrology?

High on grandeur, low on content

Film: Radhe Shyam
Cast: Prabhas, Pooja Hegde, Sachin Khedkar and Jayram
Director: Radha Krishna Kumar
Rating: 2.5

Story: Vikramaditya (Prabhas) is a reputed palmist. He falls in love with Dr Prerna (Pooja Hegde) despite his efforts not to let his emotions get involved. While he predicts a long and bright future for her on reading her palm, destiny has a different plan. What’s that?

Review: Fundamentally, the conflict point of Radhe Shyam is - Which is greater? Science or Astrology? This is established right in the first scene, when a group of scientists reach out to Guru Paramhansa (Krishnam Raju), who is running a Vedic school.

While the argument between the scientists and Paramhansa is left open to debate, the director introduces the audience to Vikramaditya a disciple of Paramhamsa, whose predictions based on palmistry never go wrong.

Interestingly, Vikramaditya insists that as he does not have a ‘love-line’ on his palm, he wants only a ‘flirtationship.’ But he falls in love with Dr. Prerana.

Prerna falls for Vikramaditya too, after seeing his skills in prediction. But just when she is about to tell him that he’s the right guy for her, there’s a twist in the tale. He distances himself from her. But why?

Director Radha Krishna Kumar seems to be trying to say that Science is never 100 per cent accurate, and there’s always an outside chance that you can change your destiny. But his narrative stills aren’t totally convincing.

The film is being projected as an intense love story. But the writing is weak and lacks panache. Several scenes are not gripping enough to hook viewers to the story. Most of the time, you aren't empathetic towards the lead pair. In short, the film fails to touch the heart.

Radhe Shyam is set in the 1970's in Italy, and has everything right superficially – artwork, cinematography, locations, etc. But it lacks soul and defining moments.

The character arc of Vikramaditya could have been made stronger. It lacks the firmness to render it elevating. Remember, palmistry is a highly respected and sensitive process. In real life, palm readers do not randomly check people’s palm. Yet, Vikramaditya does just that, often reading the palms of the man-in-the-street!

The narrative, especially in the second half, is slow. When the drama unfolds, the narration should pick up pace, but that doesn’t happen. Perhaps the director was relying more heavily on artwork and grandeur in visuals than on storytelling.

None of the dialogues is memorable, and the lines seem to have been written for a feel-good romance. Songs too fail to transport the audience into the romantic universe of Vikramaditya and Prerna.

Several scenes could have been chopped off to make the run time crispier. For instance, Prabhas’ comic act of ‘death yoga’ in the hospital could have been easily avoided, as it fails to tickle the funny bone. The narration is uneven at times, and also falls flat, especially during the second half.

Performance wise, Prabhas is sincere in his approach. However, at times, during close shots, he looks tedious. His character doesn’t have defining moments typical of a protagonist.

Pooja Hegde as Prerna is adequate; in fact, her character has better depth than Prabhas’. However, their chemistry is flat and the romance lacks spark.

On the flip side, Ravinder Reddy’s production work is evident - the film is high on visual grandeur and sets. Manoj Paramahamsa’s camerawork is appealing.

All said and done, perhaps better and stronger writing could have taken Radhe Shyam to a different level.

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