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Mani Ratnam fails the Raavan Pariksha

Posted: June 19th, 2010 | Author: Raj | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

By far one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Mani Ratnam’s Raavan has everything going for it. A director who is considered cerebral, a lead pair that has sizzled on screen under the same director’s baton, a music composer who was fresh from an Oscar victory, a pair of cinematographers who are arguably the best in the business and some locales that are visually appealing and an apt setting for this modern day Ramayan to play out.

However, after sitting through the movie that spans about two hours and ten minutes, one feels short-changed for many reasons. The story isn’t gripping, the songs are largely mundane, the treatment is largely on expected lines though the actors do try to pull up the mundane to the next level with some show of spunk.

Five reasons you keep your date with Raavan:

  1. For Mani Ratnam, the man who creates a visual delight on celluloid. The manner in which cinematographers Manikandan and Santosh Sivan have captured the sights of the forests around Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, makes for breathtaking viewing with the climax scene a standout in terms of the overall visual appeal of the movie.
  2. For the earnestness that Abhishek Bachchan has tried to bring to the character of Beera. Though Junior-B has etched out negativity in much better hues via his characterization in the director’s Yuva, this time round the actor has been careful not to repeat his feat and attempted a new approach.
  3. For two cameo performances by actors who have till date come to be known only for their dancing skills and comedy. We refer to Govinda and Ravi Kishen who stand out amongst the star cast and convert their optional extra roles into ones that linger with the viewer long after the credits roll.
  4. For Aishwarya Rai who looks ethereal throughout the movie (we have deliberately avoided referring to Mrs. Abhishek Bachchan as gorgeous as hubby dearest reportedly is miffed at it now). and manages to convey the angst of a character torn between her husband and a brigand with a noble cause.
  5. For Vikram, the Tamil superstar, who boasts of screen presence that many contemporary Bollywood superstars do not. Though his role is reduced to a uni-dimensional one of chasing Beera to his destiny through the jungles, a task he does with panache while changing innumerable goggles, Vikram can easily stake claim to being the one star of Indian cinema who can pack the punches into any role.

Five reasons you wanna keep away from Raavan:

  1. Having just about digested a modern day Mahabharat via Prakash Jha’s Raajneeti, to sit through another epic in the form of Ramayana revisited is not something one needs to do over a weekend, especially with the World Cup suddenly throwing up more spectacular goals. More so, since Mani Ratnam has not shown the courage to interpret the epic.
  2. The first half of the movie is a drag that could put you off to sleep, but for the visual treat that the camera hands out by capturing the scenic beauty of the forest ranges on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu, especially the Athirapally falls in Kerala. Editing is especially lax in some of the early scenes leading itself to the temptation of an early loo break.
  3. When tennis players began grunting on court, they invented the gruntometer. We believe movie directors need to invent theĀ  screecho-meter to monitor the high decibel levels of Aishwarya Rai, who probably has broken her Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam records with her demonic screams in this one. It is high time she learns the art of voice modulation from the two thespians she has at Jalsa!
  4. Abhishek Bachchan may be growing as an actor, but he is no Heath Ledger to etch out a “Joker”, which is probably the tragic flaw of this movie. Mani Ratnam expects too much from Junior-B, who forgoes subtlety with some over the top clowning that includes making faces at the camera – a la Sridevi.
  5. Why in the world would Mani Ratnam want to waste two National Award winning actors like Vikram and Priyamani in largely inconsequential roles is what makes one cringe. The director who gets Vikram to play the forest brigand Veera in the Tamil version, could have at least etched out the character of the cop better in the Hindi version.

In the final analysis, Mani has taken up a good tale but failed to do justice to his audience for all the hype that his media team created around the movie, something that the South Indian director has not done in the past. For me, this Raavan has failed the Agni Pariksha!

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