Saturday, June 19, 2010
The film begins with a brilliant scene that introduces the antagonist Veerayya (raavan/Vikram) kidnapping raagini (sita/Aishawrya rai bachchan) wife of a superintendent of police Dev (ram/Prithviraj). But from then on throughout the first half the movie is just a mish-mash of images that roll in front of the eyes without any effect on the viewers. The only saving grace is Vikram whose unflinching dedication to the character pays off. He literally lives the menacing and unpredictable Veera with relative ease.
The second half gets interesting as the cat and mouse game between Dev and Veera intensifies.Dev tries to catch Veera by hook or by crook while Veera
remains elusive and poses fresh challenge to Dev and his army every minute. I felt that Raavan actually came alive only at this juncture. This half also explains
reason for Veera's enimosity with Dev.It culminates in a brilliantly choreographed fight sequence above a hanging bridge that sent shivers down my spine.
I think Mani Ratnam's idea to narrate the Ramayana from the view point of Raavana was a brilliant plan.To explore the oft-heard tale from the viewpoint
of the oppressed and bring about an alternate narrative is commendable. But i think that is also this film's biggest disadvantage. Mani Ratnam i feel
has been too faithful to the original Ramayana. We have Karthik jumping from tree to tree desparaely trying to show us that he is Hanuman, the
henchman of Rama. We hear many characters talk of the 14 days that raagini has spent in custody of Veera - an obvious reference to the fourteen years
of Vanvaas.And the repeated references to the ten characters of the fugitive is just irritating .There are many such scenes in the film which I felt was included
because it is there in the original. We understand the meaning of an adaptation , but you don't have to rub it in!
Prithviraj cannot even even act as a monkey's tail and he portrays Dev!To watch him trying to act was hilarious . Aishwarya looks jaded throughout the film.
The camera by Santhosh Sivan is scintillating. He has absorbed the hues and beauty of those scenic locales brilliantly. Each scene looks like a vibrant
moving canvas. The background music is amazing and the songs have a raw energy in them. Vikram is just outstanding - slowly trying to untangle his complex and multi-layered character and place before us the bare man behind the 'Raavan'.
Watch this movie for the picturesquw locales ,superb cinematography and impressive background music. But above all watch it for the devotion of Mani ratnam to this art - he has given it his heart and soul to it.