Visual Delight Despite Limitations
Ratings: * * *
Adapting a mythological epic like Ramayana in the present era can never be a cake-walk. Apart from the turmoil that a filmmaker goes through, there is a constant awareness (or fear) of how imbibed the epic is in the audience’s minds. In spite of knowing this, director Mani Ratnam treads on the difficult path and kind of remakes the epic in Raavan. He narrates the story from the point of view of the demon (Ravana) and adds his own interpretation. Although his interpretation goes sorrowfully wrong at the end, he comes up with a visual treat. In fact, Bollywood has hardly seen a film as technically stunning as Raavan.
Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) is the most feared man as the head of a tribal area (Laal Maati) in a jungle district in North India. To settle a score with Superintendent of Police Dev Pratap Sharma (Vikram), Beera abducts his wife Ragini (Aishwarya Rai). Dev starts a desperate manhunt for Beera in order to free Ragini.
To get things straight – Raavan suffers from a weak storyline which becomes quiet illogical when it reaches the climax. However, in a rarest of the rare cases, the film still turns out to be a memorable experience despite the flaws. This is because Mani’s creativity that can be seen in plenty of scenes.
But Mani should be highly thankful to cinematographers Santosh Sivan and Manikandan. The way in which they have captured the jungles, waterfalls, rivers, birds and nature as a whole is nothing short of mastery and something that is hardly seen on Indian screen. Especially in the song sequence of Behne De which is pure delight. It won’t be an overstatement to say that Sivan and Manikandan are the true heroes of the film. Their work when coupled with a powerful and brilliant background score leaves a long lasting impact on the viewer. The fight scene on the bridge will stay etched in your memory throughout your life.
Like most Mani films, even Raavan has an impressive musical score by A R Rahman. The songs go well with the theme of the film and for this lyricist Gulzar deserves equal credit. Tracks Beera and Behne De stand out. Having said that, some songs also hamper the narration.
After Yuva and Guru, Mani ones again succeeds in making Abhishek give a powerful performance that will be talked about. However, his character of Beera doesn’t evoke much terror or threat that one expects from a demon like Ravana. But as this is a writing fault, Abhishek shouldn’t be blamed for he does his task with perfection.
Aishwarya’s performance is another plus point of the film. She excels in the role of a kidnapped wife (Sita). Her character had a difficult task of showing fearlessness despite being kidnapped by a bunch of ruthless tribals and she succeeds in it. Also, she portrays her change in feelings towards Beera through perfect expressions. But Vikram (supposed to be Ram) doesn’t look impressive mostly because he speaks Hindi in a South Indian accent although he is playing a guy from North India. Ravi Kishan, Govinda and Priyamani are likable in support roles while Ajay Gehi amd Nikhil Dwivedi show promise.
Despite the several plus points, Raavan ceases to be a perfect movie because of a weak script, non-acceptable events in the second half and a poor climax. This will ensure the film will suffer badly at the box-office after the first weak. But, as stated earlier, the mesmerizing visuals and some breathtaking cinematography do manage to overshadow the weak points. Watch it for the visual treat it offers.