‘Raavan’ is a Mani Ratnam magnum opus starring Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Vikram, Govinda, Priyamani, Ravi Kissen. It is an unique interpretation of the oldest epic in Indian History, Ramayana. Incidentally the movie is shot simultaneously in Hindi and Tamil with different set of actors. It is also dubbed in Telugu.
We had ‘Rajneeti’ inspired from Mahabharata, 2 weeks back and now is the turn of another epic Ramayana. Raavan is adapted from an episode of Ramayana where Sita is abducted by Ravan and Ram searches for her with the help of Hanuman. Abhishek Bachchan plays Beera Munda, the tribal outlaw who kidnaps Ragini Sharma played by Aishwarya Rai, the wife of righteous police Inspector Dev Sharma posted in Lal Maati in central India, played by Tamil star Vikram. Govinda plays role of forest guard Sanjeevani who helps Dev in his hunt for Beera.
I had read all the negative reviews the whole day on various blogs, websites, tv channels etc and was expecting nothing much, which I think was the best thing to happen. Most critics had blasted the film left, right and centre. The same critics who loved master pieces like BLUE, KARZZ and HOUSEFULL had called it the Waterloo of Mani Ratnam or Mani Ratnam ki Aag. I was expecting to get bored and sleepy but I did not. I never felt bored at all and in fact liked most of the movie. Its not a perfect movie but then nowadays which movie is ?
Firstly, the good parts. Visually the film is superlative. Each frame is brilliantly shot. The music adds to every frame along with decent songs. Technically when you have Santosh Sivan, Mani Ratnam and A R Rehman there could be no compromises. The film has possible the best production design and art direction for a film this year. Definitely the best cinematography and brilliant background score.The picture perfect never before seen locations of Kerala are breathtakingly beautiful and you can feel the atmosphere in every frame of the film. You want to visit the locations and the film makes you feel that in parts. The Camera detailing and lighting would surely make this film a contender for technical awards next year.
The story is simple enough, however in the first half there are far too many disjointed scenes and dialogues, one continuous chase and the story doesn’t move much ahead. Characters are established a bit randomly using montages. The kidnapping is shot well, however Govinda’s entry is bit ridiculous. The 2nd half is much better, the flashback is well made and story does make more sense, however the end is debatable but very well shot according to me. Ravan not only doesn’t kill Sita but also saves Ram and Ram in turn kills him mercilessly, while using Sita as a pawn justifies the central theme of the film that “there is Ram in every Raavan and Raavan in every Ram”.
Lots of action and killing and blood everywhere. The screenplay is good in parts but not the best. Certain sequences look quite unwanted in fact. Frankly speaking the film is bit slow at times and bit predictable as we constantly have the Ramayana reference in our mind. The songs in 2nd half were a bit of a hindrance. Reputation of Mani Ratnam is such that we all were expecting a much much better film from the master director.
However the film is not bad as portrayed by most of the media, news channels and honorary critics. The film is definitely worth a watch. I do not know what were the critics expecting from this movie but if anyone had to make a different adaptation of Ramayana, this was the way to do it. Else Barjatyas adapted Ramayana for Hum Sath Sath Hain and so did Ramanand Sagar for TV and Manoj Kumar for his Kalyug aur Ramayan. I think Mani Ratnam has taken a brave step especially by showing the ending shot when Sita screams for the dying Raavan.
Acting wise Abhishek as Beera plays his heart out and looks real intense, although does seem to go overboard at times, Beera looks a bit maniac at times rather than scary, but then that’s the demand of the role. I cant see any other top star portraying this role as effectively as he has done. Aishwarya looks good and she acts decent too, if only she could scream a bit less. Her eyes do convey a lot. Vikram is okeyish enough and has a straight forward role initially, which turns greyish by the end. He is probably the first South Indian star with almost no south Indian accent in his Hindi, which is a welcome thing. He does tend to go loud at times though. Govinda and Ravi Kissen do well in small roles. Nikhil Dwivedi and Ajay Gehi are ok with smallish roles. Why did Tejaswini Kolhapure did the role she did, is a mystery though. Priyamani in a brief role is fine.
Overall not a perfect movie but not very bad either and surely merits a one-time watch.
My Ratings: 6.5/10 – Watch it once , better interpretation of Ramayana then the Ramanand Sagar one.