Review: ‘Adipurush,’ starring Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon, Sunny Singh and Devdatta Nage

June 20, 2023

by Carla Hay

Devdatta Nage, Prabhas and Sunny Singh in “Adipurush” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

“Adipurush”

Directed by Om Raut

Released in Hindi and Telugu versions with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the fantasy/action film “Adipurush” (based on the epic Hindu tale “Ramayana”) features an Indian cast of characters in a world populated by humans and talking creatures.

Culture Clash: A god prince goes on a mission to rescue his kidnapped wife.

Culture Audience: “Adipurush” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching an overly long fantasy film that has terrible visual effects and stupid dialogue.

Saif Ali Khan in “Adipurush” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

“Adipurush” is a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. Viewers will be watching to see if the tacky visual effects and idiotic plot can get any worse. They do. And at three hours long, this bombastic and mind-numbing fantasy film becomes an endurance test. According to MeaningDB (a database for English-language meanings of Indian words): “Adipurush is a Sanskrit name that refers to the God Ishwara. Adi means first, and Purush means man. The name together denotes First Man/Supreme Person.”

Directed by Om Raut (who co-wrote the atrocious “Adipurush” screenplay with Manoj Muntashir), “Adipurush” is based on the epic Hindu tale “Ramayana.” However, there are enough changes to this movie adaptation, that there’s not much resemblance to the original story. What viewers will see in the movie is just a mishmash of fight scenes and chase scenes that revolve around rescuing a kidnapped princess. “Adipurush” had its world premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

In “Adipurush” (which takes place in an unspecified time period in India), the main hero is Raghava (played by Prabhas), a god prince who has extraordinary fighting powers. In the beginning of the movie, he’s seen defeating an army of harpy-like demons. Raghava’s loyal and loving wife Janaki (played by Kriti Sanon) soon gets kidnapped by the evil Ravana (played by Saif Ali Khan), a demon king of Lanka. Ravana can sprout 10 heads. The 10-headed Ravana is one of the more laughable (and not in a good way) parts of “Adipurush,” because the visual effects look so fake.

Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha (played by Tejaswini Pandit) actually instigated this kidnapping. Shurpanakha is jealous of Janaki, because Shurpanakha wanted to have a love affair with Raghava, but he rejected her and told her that he was going to remain loyal to Janaki. Raghava’s younger brother Shesh (played by Sunny Singh) also became a target for Shurpanakha’s seductions, but Shesh rejected her too. Shurpanakha tried to harm Janaki, but Shesh thwarted this effort and cut off Shurpanakha’s nose as a result.

Shurpanakha then told Ravana that she wants his help to get revenge on Janaki and Raghava. Ravana sees Janaki and immediately becomes smitten by her beauty and decides that he wants her for himself. This desire led to Janaki being kidnapped and hidden away in the Forest of Panchavati. Raghava, Shesh and many allies then go on a mission to find and rescue Janaki and defeat Ravana and his army.

One of the allies of Raghava and Shesh is a mutant human/monkey named Bajrang (played by Devdatta Nage), who looks mostly like a human, except for his long monkey tail. Bajang also has the ability to grow to the size of a skyscraper building. There are several talking primates in “Adipurush,” and they all look like rejects from director Matt Reeves’ masterful “Planet of the Apes” movies. There are also a few talking bears. The acting performances “Adipurush” range from average to barely watchable.

Perhaps the most ridiculous scene in the movie is when Bajrang finds Janaki in the forest. She is by herself in an open field, where she is unguarded, unrestrained, and not locked up in a room. In other words, it would be easy for anyone to rescue her at that moment. But no. All Bajrang says is that he’s a messenger for Raghava, and the message is that Raghava loves Janaki.

Imagine being a kidnapping victim and a warrior ally has a chance to rescue you, but all he says is, “Nice to see you. I have a message. Your spouse loves you. I have to go now so that your spouse can be the one to rescue you. Goodbye.” That’s essentially what happens in “”Adipurush,” which takes a full hour (the last third of the movie) to show Raghava trying to get to Janaki and the battles he has along the way. Anyone who wants a good adventure story that doesn’t insult your intelligence should steer clear of “Adipurush,” which is nothing but idiotic and very loud movie junk.

AA Films released “Adipurush” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on June 16, 2023.

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