Sita Ramam is a 2022 Indian Telugu-language period romance film written and directed by Hanu Raghavapudi. Produced by Vyjayanthi Movies and Swapna Cinema, the film stars Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur (her Telugu debut) as the titular protagonists with Rashmika Mandanna and Sumanth. +more Set in 1964, Lieutenant Ram, an orphaned army officer serving at the Kashmir border, gets anonymous love letters from Sita Mahalakshmi, after which Ram is on a mission to find Sita and propose his love.

Principal photography commenced in April 2021 and ended in April 2022 with filming taking place in Hyderabad, Kashmir and Russia. The film's music was composed by Vishal Chandrasekhar while cinematography by +more_S. _Vinod'>P. S. Vinod and Shreyaas Krishna and editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao.

Sita Ramam was released theatrically on 5 August 2022. The film emerged as a huge critical and commercial success, grossing over crore at the box office. +more It is one of the highest-grossing Telugu films of 2022.

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Plot

In 1964, Ansari, a Pakistani extremist, does not approve of the brotherly relationship between Muslims and Hindus in Kashmir. He plans on severing the bond and separating them. +more He strongly believes that the Indian Army is the reason for the unity. He resorts to brainwashing teenagers in Pakistan and sends them to Kashmir. He advises them to live in disguise to make his plans work. In 1985, Afreen is a fierce Pakistani-based rabble-rouser in London, who dislikes anything about India, where she sets fire to the car of an Indian, in retaliation for India burning Pakistan's flag. The management board of her university reveals the car's owner to be their sponsor philanthropist named Anand Mehta and asks her to apologize to him.

As Afreen doesn't like to say sorry to Indians, Anand gives her two choices: either to give him 1 million (10 lakhs INR) as compensation or get rusticated from the college. Being a stubborn and unapologetic patriot, she decides to compensate him and goes back to Pakistan to meet her grandfather Pakistan Army Brigadier Tariq for providing her money to compensate him. +more Upon her arrival in Pakistan, Afreen finds out that her grandfather passed away. In his will, he asks her to deliver a letter, which he could not, written in 1965, by Indian Army Lieutenant Ram to his lover Sita Mahalakshmi in India, as it was a debt that Afreen had to fulfill. Upon successfully doing so, she will inherit his wealth. Though reluctant at first, Afreen agrees to deliver the letter to her, so that she can inherit Tariq's wealth.

Afreen leaves for Hyderabad in search of Sita, where she is accompanied by Balaji, her senior at the university in London. She reaches the address, only to find that it is a ladies' college. +more She asks Subramaniyam, who has been working there for more than 20 years, about Sita. He tells Afreen that the college was the royal palace of the Nawab of Hyderabad once which was donated by Princess Noor Jahan for the education of girls. He also adds that nobody with the name of Sita was there. Clueless, Afreen is unable to find Sita without any details. Upon getting an idea, she goes in search of Ram instead and learns about the address of Lt. Vikas Varma, who was in Ram's regiment, in Kashmir. Upon meeting Vikas, Afreen meets Ram's friend Durjoy Sharma and superior Vishnu Sharma and learns about Ram's story.

In 1964, Ansari, who sent teenagers to Kashmir, gives them the whereabouts of the Indian Army. After learning about them, Major Selvan orders the army to catch and kill the Pakistani teenagers, as they can compromise the safety of the Indians, in Kashmir. +more However, their plan backfires as Kashmiri Muslims, in the area, who thought of the youngsters as their own, attacked every soldier responsible for killing the youngsters. Knowing this would happen, Ansari steps over into Kashmir and brainwashes the Kashmiri Muslims. The enraged Muslims set fire to the houses of Kashmiri Pandits in Agarta. Aware that they are under the influence of Ansari, Ram tries to stop them, where he captures the informer and reveals the truth to the Kashmiri Muslims. After learning the truth, they apologize for trying to incite a religious riot and help the Indian Army in putting out the fires.

This incident becomes national news, and Ram and his fellow regiment mates become national heroes. Vijayalakshmi, an investigative journalist arrives to interview them, through which she learns that Ram is an orphan. +more The next day, on the radio, she tells everybody about Ram and asks everyone in India to send their love to him. As a result, Ram receives a lot of letters from people across India, acknowledging him as their brother and son. He is overjoyed to know that he has a big family and starts writing letters to reply to all of them. One of them is a letter, written by Sita Mahalakshmi, addressing him as her husband. Ram is surprised and regularly receives letters from her with no address. One day, Vikas and Ram take the same train as Sita, based on the minute details provided by her in the letters and searches the entire train. He repeats a riddle, written in her letter so that she can recognize him and gives her his friend's landline number and leaves the train.

Upon his arrival at his friend Durjoy Sharma's house, he gets out to know that the phone has been dead for a week. Sita comes in search of Ram at Durjoy's house. +more They meet and Ram takes a picture of her, discreetly. Sita leaves yet again without giving him an address. Ram goes to a magic show in search of Sita and meets her friend, who reveals that Sita has been writing many letters to him, but posted only a few of them. He gets to know that Sita is a dance teacher, living in Princess Noor Jahan's palace in Hyderabad, to teach her Bharatanatyam. He enters the palace with the help of Subramaniyam and meets Sita. Ram learns that he actually saved Sita from riots, in Agarta, and that it was her first encounter with him. However, Ram was not able to see her, which gives the answer to Sita's riddle in one of the letters Sita posted to Ram.

It is later revealed that Sita is none other than Princess Noor Jahan, whose marriage alliance is fixed with the Prince of Oman, to save her family's factories and businesses that were captured in Oman. She goes to bid her farewell to Ram, but ends up accompanying him the next four days, where they meet his family (the ones that wrote him the letters). +more Sita and Ram are spied on by a journalist, who clicks their pictures together. Later, Ram drops off Sita at the palace and leaves for Kashmir. The pictures get published in the newspaper, revealing the Princess's love for a common man. Sita reveals to her brother that the news is true and cancels her alliance. She leaves for Kashmir for Ram, where she meets Ram, who is overjoyed upon her arrival. They spend some time together and Noor meets Ram's fellow mates as Sita.

They meet Vishnu Sharma and his family at dinner. However, they are attacked by the youngster seeking vengeance for the earlier encounters. +more They capture him and obtain the precise location of Ansari. Ram promises the youngster that he will rescue his younger sister Waheeda from Ansari. The army plans a secret mission to gun down Ansari and warns the soldiers that if they get caught, they will be disowned by the army and declared as traitors. Sita is waiting for Ram to reveal her true identity, but Ram tells her about the mission to kill Ansari. Ram, Vishnu Sharma, and his team leave for the operation, by crossing the Indian border and successfully executing Ansari. However, The Brigadier gets alarmed by the fires that started as a result of the cross-firing and start for their location. Ram and his team are about to leave, but sees Waheeda, where he leaves to save her.

However, Ram, along with Vishnu Sharma, is captured by the Pakistan Army, while the other soldiers escape successfully. Ram hands over Waheeda to Brigadier Tariq, where they are tortured mercilessly to reveal the coordinates to the Indian Army base, in Kashmir, but Brigadier Tariq takes pity on Ram and Vishnu and provides them with care. +more While Sita is finding reasons for the late arrival of Ram and gets known as the Indian Army declares Ram and Vishnu as desserted Soldiers. While using brute force, the Pakistani soldiers can get Vishnu to reveal the coordinates of the Indian army bases to them, in exchange for his freedom and not harming his family. Vishnu gets released, but they hang Ram, to demoralize the Indian army. The Indian army bases in Kashmir are destroyed, and Ram is branded as a traitor. Before his execution, Ram writes a letter to Sita and asks the Brigadier to deliver it to her.

In 1985, with the help of Vishnu Afreen learns that the Brigadier was actually Tariq. Additionally, the child, whose life was saved by Ram during the fire, is Afreen herself which is why Tariq said that delivering the letter was a 'debt' she had to fulfill. +more When Vishnu asks her about the letter written by Ram to Sita she tells that Balaji has the letter. Vishnu gets scared about the info written by Ram as he was the one who revealed the coordinates to the Pakistani Army. A changed Afreen, with a heavy heart, delivers the letter to Sita through Balaji, where they learn about Ram's innocence and also find the newspaper clipping attached to it, about "Princess Noor Jahan of Hyderabad being in love with a common man", revealing that Ram knew about Sita's true identity as a Muslim and did not care. With Ram's letter and Afreen, as evidence and witness, an inquiry is ordered on Vishnu Sharma and his regiment. Out of disgrace, Vishnu Sharma shoots himself with his service revolver. Sita manages to prove Ram's innocence and restores his name and honor in the Indian Army.

Cast

Production

Development

Hanu Raghavpudi got the idea for the film when he bought a book that had an unopened inland letter. Regarding the same, he told The Hindu, "The letter I found in that book, in 2007, was from a mother to her son. +more I gathered that their family is from Vijayawada and the son is living in a hostel. She had enquired about his well being and asked when he would be home. It got me thinking, what if the contents of the letter had something crucial that could change the course of events?". Army backdrop was later included in the story as suggested by Rajkumar Kandamudi. Sheetal Sharma was hired as the costume designer for the film. The film was announced in July 2020. In April 2022, its title Sita Ramam was announced.

Casting

Dulquer Salmaan was roped in to play the lead role as a military officer, and it is his second collaboration in Telugu cinema with Vyjayanthi Movies after Mahanati (2018). In May 2020, Pooja Hegde was approached to play Sita but it did not materialize due to date clash, eventually after which Hindi cinema actress Mrunal Thakur was signed to play Sita, marking her debut in Telugu cinema. +more Raashi Khanna was considered to play Afreen before Rashmika Mandanna was finalized for the role.

Filming

Principal photography commenced in April 2021 in Kashmir and first schedule wrapped up in July 2021. After another schedule in Russia and Hyderabad, final schedule took place in April 2022.

Music

The music and soundtrack was composed by Vishal Chandrasekhar. The audio rights were acquired by Sony Music India. +more The first single titled "Oh Sita Hey Rama" was released on 9 May 2022. "Ala Nemaliki - Inthandam Reprise" version sung by S. P. Charan was released later.

Release

Theatrical

Sita Ramam was released on 5 August 2022 in Telugu along with dubbed versions of Tamil and Malayalam languages. The Hindi dubbed version of the film was released on 2 September 2022.

The film's screening was banned in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to an article published by News18, the ban was a result of the film hurting religious sentiments. +more Later, the ban in the United Arab Emirates was lifted and the film released on 11 August 2022. A pre-release event was conducted in Hyderabad in 3 August 2022 with Prabhas attending as guest. The team promoted the film at events in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Vizag, Chennai and Kochi.

Distribution

The film is distributed in Nizam region by Asian Cinemas, Krishna and Uttarandhra region by Annapurna Studios, Tamil Nadu by Lyca Productions and Wayfarer Films in Kerala. The Hindi version rights were acquired by Pen Studios. +more In the United States, it is distributed by S. Radha Krishna's Radhakrishna Entertainments. The worldwide theatrical rights of the film were sold at a cost of 18. 70 crore.

Home media

The digital distribution rights of the film were acquired by Amazon Prime Video. The film premiered on Amazon Prime Video on 9 September 2022 in Telugu and dubbed versions of Tamil and Malayalam languages.

Reception

Critical response

Sita Ramam received highly positive reviews from critics. Neeshita Nyayapati of The Times of India rated the film 3. +more5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "With Sita Ramam, Hanu manages to deliver a story that's moving and a film that's visually aesthetic and pleasing". Jayadeep Jayesh of Deccan Herald rated the film 3. 5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Sita Ramam shares its soul with the Bollywood classic Veer Zara. Yet, it maintains an identity of its own". Jeevi of Idlebrain rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and wrote, "On the whole, Sita Ramam is a classy tale of eternal love". Priyanka Sundar of Firstpost rated the film 3 out of 5 stars and called the film "a visually beautiful tale of love and loss". Anji of Sakshi rated the film 3 out of 5 stars, praised the music, cinematography, and direction and called the film 'a beautiful love story'. Soundarya Athimuthu of The Quint rated the film 2. 5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Sita Ramam delivers a poignant love story laced with socio-political messaging".

Janani K of India Today rated the film 2. 5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Sita Ramam is also a musical, as opposed to a romantic story about war". +more Balakrishna Ganeshan of The News Minute rated the film 2. 5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Sita Ramam tries hard to make the love story between Sita and Ram a poignant tale, but with weak writing, the film does not get the desired response". He also opined that Vennala Kishore's character is related to Lord Hanuman, who helps Rama in his journey to find Sita in the Ramayanam. Manoj Kumar R of The Indian Express rated the film 2 out of 5 stars and wrote, "The screen presence of Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur does add a little vigour to the otherwise dull narration. The film majorly leverages the good looks of its actors to make it tolerable". Gautama Bhaskaran of News 18 rated the film 1. 5 out of 5 stars and wrote, "Sita Ramam has all the ingredients of a puffed-up plot, peppered with coincidences and made to look like a web of implausibilities".

A critic for Telangana Today stated, "The film is however for the grooming Dulquer fan following. He is a natural charmer and understands the nuances of his role". +more Writing for Hindustan Times, Haricharan Pudipeddi opined, "Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur's film is a tale of love that also takes a mature and sensitive take on the conflict between India and Pakistan". Opining the same, The Hindu's Sangeetha Devi Dundoo wrote, "Hanu Raghavapudi's old-world romance saga brims with earnestness and is helped by charming performances from Dulquer Salmaan and Mrunal Thakur". Princy Alexander of Onmanorama, stated, "Sita Ramam is a heartfelt romantic tale in a strife-torn setting". 123Telugu wrote, "On the whole Sita Ramam is a beautiful love story. The film has a decent first half and great second half. The scintillating performances by all the lead cast, the pleasing narrative, and the poetic writing will make you poignant and heartwarming".

Box office

On its opening day, Sita Ramam collected a gross collection of in worldwide. On the same day, it collected a gross of $400K at the US box office. +more In nine days, the film has collected a total gross of $1 million at the United States box office. The film collected a worldwide gross of crore in 10 days, and emerged as a commercial success at the box office. The film's Hindi version netted crore at the box office.

Notes

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