So I have been raving about this movie to everyone and anyone for ages, so I figured I should just write a review of it Before that, though, how about you watch the trailer (turn on the closed captions for English subtitles).
My Quickie Review
My Longer Review
This is a story of a young man who is raised in a small village at the base of a mountain, becoming involved in a multi-generational conflict in a mystical kingdom at the top of the mountain. I don't want to say much more about the plot than that, for fear of spoiling it for interested viewers.
Be warned, it is quite typical of Indian cinema. There are random songs and dancing that punctuate the movie. I, personally, thought they were great. The music was beautiful and the songs never really did seem starkly out of place. Some of the scenes were, quite typically, corny, but were endearing all the same. There is a bit, for example, when his extraordinary strength is revealed; he tears a shrine to Shive from the ground and carries it to the waterfall so that his mother no longer has to walk to the river to collect water to pour over it. That in itself is fine, but the stone armband around his bicep bursting was a little silly. Still, it didn't really detract from the movie, so it gets a pass.
I genuinely really loved the music in this. There is a song, granted it's a little corny if you pay attention to the lyrics, while he's scaling the mountain that is simply heavenly to listen to. There is not a musical misstep in this entire movie. I loved the music so much, I'm contemplating getting the soundtrack as well. I don't understand a word, but the music is gorgeous.
I also want to spend some time loving the visuals. The movie isn't simply epic, it's stunning. It's a genuine feast for the eyes. From sweeping shots of incredible scenery, to the use of colour and light, this film is a delight to behold. Slow motion is used rather liberally for the film, and it took me some getting used to, but once I settled into the style of the movie, it didn't pull me out of the narrative quite so much. And honestly, the film is just so beautiful I can easily forgive the overuse of slow mo.
The characters are all great. The main character, Shiva, is a trickster character, who also happens to possess super strength. His cheeky side comes out when he falls in love with a woman and part of his invisible courtship is to play tricks on her. It doesn't go so well for her, incidentally.
And that's another thing. All the women in this film are whole and complex. The woman Shiva falls for is a warrior; a freedom fighter whose sole life mission is to free her princess from the clutches of the villain. The woman who escapes with the infant Shiva at the very beginning is quite clearly a clever and determined woman, who also happens to know her way around a sword. The princess held captive by the villain of the piece is bitter and angry, and so, so sure of her position that she is building her capture a funerary pyre. My only gripe is that Shiva's love interest seems to forget herself and her mission when she finally encounters her invisible suitor. And she somehow loses the ability to fight after that, forcing the hero to rescue her. Blerg. That, however, can be forgiven. I have witnessed first hand strong women forget themselves and their life dreams when they think they are in love. So, you know, as annoying as I find that trope, it's actually not all that far from accurate in some cases.
I still found it annoying, though. Part of that is the way it was executed; with her trying to kill Shiva, while he undresses her and applies her makeup for her. I could have done without that. I do like that she drugged him
Still, Shiva's antics were pretty amusing, and provided a side to him needed to be seen, because the movie gets pretty dark afterwards.
I also really appreciate that everyone in the film looked real. The men were strong and muscular, but without the over-musculature popular in Hollywood currently. They looked real; a far more attainable muscularity than we're used to seeing. The women, too, thankfully, looked real; healthy. They weren't the impossibly slender versions of femininity we're used to seeing here in the West. There was body fat, and you know what, it looked beautiful.
Honestly, if you can stand subtitles, and you enjoy epics, then this movie is most definitely for you. I genuinely love it.