Set in the mid -1960s or thereabouts ‘Sita Ramam’ starring Dulquer Salmaan, Mrunal Thakur, Rashmika Mandanna and directed by Hanu Raghavapudi is a beautifully characterised tale of love. With a classic old-school reference and told with the influence of Ramayan the film is an endearing romantic period drama. Sita Ramam’s narrative style is what keeps elevating and cherishing part of the entire film.
With a complete package of emotions, flavourful execution, and haunting ideas the melodrama has it all without seeking a cry for attention. Based on the mid-1960s to 1980’s the story is about Lieutenant Ram (Dulquer) who falls in love with a stranger Sita Mahalakshmi (Mrunal Thakur) after trading letters with her. It’s been twenty years since the love story of Ram and Sita has been full of twists and turns.
From the latter period is Afreen (Rashmika Mandanna) a Pakistani origin, India-phobic girl who is extremely devoted to Islam so much that she even hates getting help from those who don’t follow her faith. It is when circumstances lead Afreen to seek help from her grandfather, an ex-serviceman, to deliver a package in return for him. The letter is dated 1965, from Lieutenant Ram (Dulquer Salmaan) to Sita Mahalakshmi (Mrunal Thakur). And that is where Afreen begins to unravel the whereabouts of Ram and Sita, who are nowhere to be found.
We are also introduced to Ram who is serving in the volatile, snow-capped lands of Kashmir. Being an orphan, his life gets love poured from all over the country when a radio journalist (Rohini Molleti) terms him as a lone soldier in her show. Ram gets particularly invested in one letter from Sita, that rebukes him for calling himself an orphan when he has found a wife in her.
The characters in Sita Ramam are not just two-dimensional but are written in layers. On one hand, we get to see the compassionate side of Ram when he cleverly saves his natives even though he is being commanded to do otherwise.
Hanu’s writing makes you root for Ram whereas Dalquer’s portrayal makes you cherish his journey. He is a perfect balance of a mature and hopeless romantic.
The women of Sita Ramam are no less. Among the thousands of letters received by Ram one belongs to a prostitute mother who affectionately calls him her brother. The way her occupation is being revealed shows no sign of disgust and is presented in the most humane way possible.
On the other hand, both the female leads are sensibly written. Afreen and Sita, have strong pursuits in their lives and aren’t driven away as the eye candies. Sita isn’t a meek lady. She is the one initiating pursuing Ram and does not shy away from him. Afreen is shown as confident and believes in what she does. She also has no qualms when the truths turn out to be the opposite of what her opinion was.
The second half of the film however shows the powerful side of Sita. Rashmika Mandanna and Mrunal Thakur have done complete justice by delivering solid performances in their timed roles.
Overall Sita Ramam has done complete justice to its story, characters, and narrative style. The film also justifies its reference to the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Ram goes in search of Sita whose whereabouts are unknown. The references to the myths like Ram rescues Sita are peppered but with a subtle touch so that the film doesn’t lose its essence. The film doesn’t lose its screen time making it a lovely periodic tale with an outstanding plot.