Four Stars for Raavan

It was a good idea to release Mani Ratnam’s latest flick Raavan in the rainy season. The rain and all the water adds a sort of surround effect to the scenic shots in the movie.

I watched the movie on the day of release, though missed the first half hour due to traffic jam and unhelpful rickshaw drivers in Mumbai. I thought it was fab.

Reading so many bad reviews and criticism about Abhishek Bachchan’s acting, I’m wondering if there is anything wrong with me or if my taste in movies has gone to dogs.

Tell me, is Ramayana a rule book, setting moral standards to people? Is it there to give definition to the whole of Rama as good. Raavana as bad. Sita as the perfect wife? (however hard it is to define such vague terms). How much do you really question the action of each character in the epic? Do we ever think that Valmiki might have just taken a break from his japa and the like and said “Hey! I’m bored, Let me write a story!”

Let’s say you read the whole of Ramayana as a story, in the same breath as say, Huckleberry Finn abridged version from a shelf of other classic abridge versions. All the Nava Rasas are squeezed from the pulp and juice distributed to the whole population of Dombivli. If you can add different Rasas in different proportion and completely mix it, you might actually set the reader thinking that Pap, Finn’s father as the “good guy” of the book. Maybe all your ingrained moral values might push you to think otherwise and hence hate it. But it’s worth a try. For art’s sake.

That, I think is precisely what Mani Ratnam has tried to do to Ramayana here. And that is why I hold the movie so highly. Starting from the point where Rama accused Sita and working backwards, trying to figure out if there may be a more human reason for his action (apart from God left his body after his work of killing Raavana was over), Mani Ratnam has tried to prove that if you tried to interpret each action in the rind differently, Raavana might have a better case in front of people. And the only Sita, with her better will power and better judgement can develop a soft corner for him. For her, Rama is still her beloved god, but Raavana’s actions are justified too. He tries to potray Raavana’s crimes as vengeance, more like his only weapon against the more powerful, more influential rule of Rama. His leadership is justified in the eyes of those who follow him. In the end, it is powerplay and the play of strong feelings, to possess the woman that they both are madly in love with.

As usual, Mani Ratnam, uses his visual prowess and better cinematography to woo the audience. But then he fails to deliver, where the authenticity of the ways of people where he claims the story takes place comes. Particularly, Beera’s ways of speaking, the change from Hindi to Bhojpuri is not very well shown. Better people than the super couple could have conveyed the story better. But then, Ash looks as beautiful as ever and Abhishek is still the gunda-mawali from Yuva. I guess, Mani Ratnam mischieviously tries to break them apart onscreen, only to keep their couple-ness intact by the end of the movie.

Overall, I would say it was worth that one watch, not anymore.

About Tuna Fish

Not one more of these again!!!
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3 Responses to Four Stars for Raavan

  1. wanderlust says:

    the ramayana doesn’t do any moral posturing. nor does the mahabharatha. it is all about how you choose to interpret it.
    especially with the mahabharatha. it is where heroes have feet of clay and resort to trickery to ensure dharma triumphs… that might sound oxymoronic, but that’s how it is.
    i think there have been works in the past which are told from raavana’s point of view; mani ratnam is not doing anything new. even the revenge angle is not new at all… check the wiki article on ravana.
    there’s even a temple dedicated to ravana in Kanpur.

    i watched just an hour of the movie, had to give up because of a shaky net connection. the problem i found with this film is it’s too ‘talky’. and nothing that happens ever seems justified in the whole movie. it seems too random. and what the hell was the whole hanuman thing… karthik muthuraman making monkeyish noises and climbing trees.. really, he takes the audience’s intelligence to be nonexistent.
    dialogues like “how can you kill someone who’s not scared?”…. this i can accept from some other pretentious first-time director, but i thought mani ratnam was more nuanced than this. (especially since if beera is supposed to be so awesome as he is, he would have encountered people like this all the time).

    it just asks me to stretch my imagination too much and doesn’t reward me enough for doing so.

    sucky film.
    a let-down, i felt.

  2. Pingback: Four Stars for Raavan « The NITK Numbskulls Page | Trends Now

  3. Chethan B says:

    nice post 🙂
    i finally decided to watch it n i guess i am not regretting the decision much..

    awesome cinematography.. n vikram has done his job neatly.. but, i think Raavan’s role demands for a lil more talent than wat abhishek has got..

    i never quite understood why dev was trying to kill beera in the first place.. did he foresee the act of kidnapping??!

    climax is good n makes me think Raavan must have been a really decent guy.. if only he were a lil stronger n smarter.. if only he had won the war, Valmiki wouldn’t have bothered to write his version of Ramayan n we wouldn’t have had to worship a cunning Ram 😦

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