Sita falls short of capitalising on an interesting premise and characters
Writer-director Teja paints a broad outline of his principal characters in the first few minutes. A boy is left in a monastery in Bhutan. He is bruised, physically and mentally, and needs to heal in the presence of kind-hearted monks. His uncle tells him that he isn’t being abandoned and that Sita, his maradalu (when will Telugu films grow out of bava-maradalu stories?), will seek him out. Funny enough, he makes a red mark on a wall and says that when Sita grows that tall, she will come to meet him.
Years later, slum dwellers are ousted for a proposed shopping mall in the area. In a regular film, this would be the work of a villain. Here, the one who’s responsible for this is Sita (Kajal Aggarwal). She arrives in a fleet of black cars and is dressed in black. That’s Teja’s way of establishing that his leading lady is an antithesis to the idea of a pure-hearted Sita from Ramayana.
Considering how often women end up playing docile, second fiddle characters, it’s interesting that the leading lady is an unapologetic, ruthless business woman, especially when there are signs that the story wouldn’t take a predictable path of taming the shrew. But the happiness is short lived. Sita
- Cast: Kajal Aggarwal, Bellamkonda Sreenivas, Sonu Sood
- Direction: Teja
Had the character of Sita been better etched, it would have shown her smart strategies that make her powerful. But what we get to see is her shallow method of functioning, masked by her overbearing posturing. When she emphasises that she’s the one who will define the boundaries, we understand that she’s redefining the ‘lakshman rekha’. But when she keeps harping on her name and that she sets the norms, I felt like saying we get it, let’s move on with the story.
The story pits her against a modern day Ravana — Basavaraju (Sonu Sood). Ram or Raghuram (Bellamkonda Sai Sreenivas), meanwhile awaits Sita in the Bhutan monastery. Sita reaches out to him. Oh yes, she’s grown as tall at that red mark on the wall! Ram is unpredictably naive (apparently he doesn’t understand the ways of the world since he grew up in a monastery) but also silly. But he’s blessed with Baahubali-like muscle power and has the ability of Chitti (yes, the robot character played by Rajinikanth) to memorise law books in a few minutes.
The broad characterisations of Sita and Ram and the tussle for inheritance of wealth is loosely inspired by the 1988 Hollywood film Rain Man, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman. A change of gender (Tom Cruise becomes Kajal) and some references to Ramayana is the crux of Sita.
The film doesn’t leverage on its premise and stretches the plot to the point of boredom. Kajal Aggarwal does her best to shoulder the film and portray the complexities of Sita, so if only the writing had been better. This is one of the better performances from Bellamkonda Sreenivas. Sonu Sood fits the part of a lust-driven modern day Ravana. Tanikella Bharani is cast in the interesting role of a cryptic assistant to Basavaraju. Abhinav Gomatam too makes an impression in a sizeable role of Sita’s secretary.
In a supposedly woman-centric film, it’s ironic how politically incorrect some scenes are. For instance, the so-called naive hero breaks open the bathroom door because he’s in a rush to take a leak, without pausing to think of the woman who’s in the shower. The monks never taught him a thing or two about the opposite sex and matters of privacy? Also, in this day of heightened discourse of gender sensitisation, it doesn’t ring right when the hero tells the villain that he can whisk away Sita, but not if she’s Ram’s wife. Scratch that. No woman, irrespective of her marital status, can be violated.
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