Prabhas and Pooja Hegde in 'Radhe Shyam'
Prabhas and Pooja Hegde in 'Radhe Shyam' Image Credit: Phars Films

‘Radhe Shyam’, a sweeping romantic saga about two star-crossed lovers who battle destiny and fate to remain united, was meant to be a grand visual spectacle, but it ends up being an epic bore and a colossal misfire.

In this period saga set in 1970s Europe, Prabhas and Pooja Hegde play a fetching pair Vikramaditya and Prerna. He’s introduced as the ‘Einstein of Palmistry’, while Prerna is a chirpy doctor.

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They meet each other on a train somewhere in Europe and sparks fly. She has an annoying habit of leaning from the door on a speeding train to feel the wind on her face while throwing her scarf to unsuspecting passengers who stop to watch her.

The first three men call her ‘mental’ as she sticks herself out of a moving train and expects them to use her long stole as a harness to keep her from hurtling out of the train, but Vikramaditya finds her utterly charming.

He apes her moves and they end up staring at each other as a gush of wind whips their hair and the train hurtles at breakneck speed. It was meant to be their grand eyes-first-meet moment, but it may be the audience who find themselves rolling their eyes at their collective stupidity.

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Even Prabhas’ mammoth star power and charisma combined with Hegde’s pretty persona cannot salvage this misadventure. The ‘Baahubali’ actor is painted as a larger-than-life Casanova who proudly declares that he is not into relationships, but ‘flirtationships’ and that he lacks a solid love line on his palm. But all his reservations dissipate when he runs into Prerna, who is battling a serious health condition.

Both seem to be on borrowed time and are convinced that their days are numbered. But they try to out-die each other to save each other. If you are confused at the principal plot, then you are not alone. Unless you suspend belief, you are unlikely to come out unscathed from this meandering and languorous love story.

While the European locations are magnificent and ethereal, ‘Radhe Shyam’ looks like an exaggerated costume drama where hamming and overzealous reactions to any situation are embraced. While Hegde and Prabhas are individually good, they have no chemistry between them to resuscitate this middling film. But it’s not for their lack of trying, it’s just that the script is so superfluous that it’s difficult to remain invested in the pair who ghost each other often but claim to have undying affection for each other.

Prabhas and Pooja Hegde in 'Radhe Shyam' poster
Prabhas and Pooja Hegde in 'Radhe Shyam' poster Image Credit: Instagram/Prabhas

The battle between logic based on scientific evidence and beliefs on palmistry is rarely explored and all of it boils down to these lovers making questionable life decisions.

While the first half of the film is about their larger-than-life courtship, the second half of the movie turns gears as it shows Prabhas on a big ship battling the rough seas and a tsunami. The titanic-esqe twist was meant to showcase Prabhas’ Herculean star power. And judging by the catcalls and whistles emerging from his army of fans at the morning show in the UAE, he had made them ecstatic. But if you are not a Prabhas fan or a groupie, you are likely to look at the whole action-filled episode with a mixture of awe and incredulity.

Also be warned that the pace of the film is painfully fractured as it oscillates between a tempestuous romance and an action film directed at exploiting Prabhas’ magnetic screen presence. The supporting characters played by Bhagyashree as Adityanarayan’s lovely mother or Kunal Roy Kapoor as his best mate have very little to do.

South Indian actor Jayaram is on call to be this comic relief as this hypochondriac patient in Prerna’s hospital. But none of these characters leave any definitive impression in this soulless drama.

Watch this film only if you are a true-blue Prabhas fan who is convinced that he can do no wrong in your eyes. Otherwise, it’s best to even avoid a flirtaionship — let alone have any relationship — with this epic disaster.

Playing now:
Film: Radhe Shyam
Director: Radha Krishna Kumar
Cast: Pooja Hegde, Prabhas, Bhagyashree, Jayaram, Kunal Roy Kapur
Stars: 2 out of 5