Jun 18, 2010

Raavan: Movie Review

Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram
Direction/Screenplay: Mani Ratnam
Music: AR Rahman
Dialogues: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cinematography: Santosh Sivan, V Manikandan
Genre: Drama
Release Date: June 18’2010 worldwide

Personas are often deceiving. A man who comes across as evil and menacing can be godly in reality, if watched closely and vice versa. Deception rules and dominates the world. Although, once the truth unravels, bad starts seeming good as in the case of Beera (Abhishek Bachchan).
Beera hides in the dense forests of north India from where he orchestrates his criminal activities against the police, a la Veerappan. He ruthlessly kills the policemen and loots their weaponry. Going by Beera’s sharp hunting skills and knowledge of the jungle, even the police is now scared of the dangerous outlaw except for SP Dev (Vikram).

Right after being posted to Lal Maati, Dev finds his wife Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) caught in Beera’s clutches as he kidnaps her and takes her to the jungle where he resides. Turns out Beera has been meaning to settle a personal score with the police for a long time. Dev takes the help of a funny forest guard (Govinda) in order to get back his wife. Ragini on the other hand oblivious to Beera’s power, does every thing possible to escape her nightmare.

Mani Ratnam’s modern adaptation of Hindu mythological epic Ramayana with a twist, is a film made with good intention, beautiful music and mind blowing cinematography but unfortunately lacking everything else!

To start with, the story of the film as if on a long pause, just doesn’t move ahead for a good one hour after the film begins.

The scenes seem repetitive with Ash screaming from the bottom of her lungs even when she speaks (in a voice that seems inspired by Vidya Balan’s from Bhool Bhullaiyya, after she is possessed that is) and Abhishek doing some weird jig jig jig...not a dance, but the words he says as he shakes his hands around his head vigorously when either angry or amused.

The two keep staring, screaming at each other when not climbing a rocky mountain or jumping off a cliff as they play hide n seek in the forest for almost an hour. Their chemistry and the dialogues fall short of portraying the angst or the attraction they hold for each other thus making their interaction simply a waste of time.

A brooding Vikram keeps flashing his forehead frown lines and quizzical eyebrows as he hunts for Beera in the forest using minimal dialogues but maximum action & style (His fans will like it).

The only actors who provide good comic relief with their words and bindaas act amidst this insipid chase are Govinda and Ravi Kishen... both wasted to a large extent.

The dialogues are highly uninspiring for a film that intends to tackle a subject of this stature. (Ash asks Vikram: Yeh Beera Robin Hood hai ya Raavan)

Raavan is no Mani Ratnam signature film at all. It in fact looks like Mani attempting a Ram Gopal Verma (in terms of camera angles and direction) or even a Vishal Bhardawaj (feel, setting and twist of the film) while being inspired by Ghai’s Khalnayak (story).

The filmmaker seems inspired by so many things at a time that he forgets to retain his own USP. There is no punch in the script which doesn’t rise above clich├ęs, no tenderness in the love between Dev and Ragini and no depth to Ragini or Dev’s character as they come across as silent spectators to Beera’s eccentric antics. The ten facets of Beera’s personality too doesn’t stand out.

The film moves you only when Abhishek and Priyamani come to picture. Both actors act superbly and infuse soul into this otherwise lifeless drama. Abhishek walks away with the main role and does a good job as he gets into the skin of his character very well. Wish his character would have been written better.

Ash holds one disgruntled expression on her face throughout and so does Vikram.

The film can be watched for its brilliant cinematography by Santosh Sivan and V Manikandan. Jungles, waterfalls, rains...have never looked so beautiful in a Hindi film before nor has a de-glam Ash in an extreme close up.

Music by AR Rahman is mesmerizing. Behne De, Ranjha Ranjha and Beera Beera are tracks that grow on you and are capable of being listed in Rahman’s all-time hits.

Outfits by Sabyasachi go perfectly with the theme of the film.

We assume Mani Ratnam went through a writer’s block this time around which is natural for creative geniuses of his calibre. We hope he regains his brilliance that gave us Roja, Bombay, Guru and Yuva.

Film: Raavan (Hindi)
Rating: 2.25/5

The most talked about movie has finally hit the screens in three languages. With big names like Mani Ratnam, Vikram, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya in the list, the expectations are obviously high.

Ragini (Aishwarya) is the wife of SP Dev Pratap (Vikram) and she gets kidnapped by the most dreaded Beera (Abhishek). Dev begins his hunt for Beera to rescue Ragini. For this, he takes the help of Sanjeevani Kumar(Govinda) a modern day Hanuman, playfully hopping from one spot to another as he joins Dev's mission to search for his wife. On the other hand, Ragini gives a tough time to Beera as she wants to escape. But who is the bad person? Is Dev successful in getting Ragini back? All this forms the rest of the story.

Vikram looks apt as a cop and his dubbing was also done well. However, he had a grim face throughout so not much of contribution from him in terms of body language or dialogues. His strong screen presence made up for any drawbacks.

Abhishek Bachchan tried his best to look villainous but then he has that baby face which makes it hard to convince. Moreover, not enough power and depth was given to his character which is another setback.

Aishwarya looks gorgeous as ever and she did her bit well. Most of her words were expressed through her sparkling eyes so not much to complain from her end.

Priyamani made her presence felt, Govinda was alright, Nikhil Dwivedi was okay, Ravi Kishan was good, Tejaswini Kolhapure was there to fill the screen that’s all. ‘Big’ choreographer Ganesh Acharya managed to shake his tummy to some extent in a song.

The film has arrived with a lot of hype and it must be said that it stands nowhere near the hype. The major failure for the film is the poor content. There is no depth in the etching of the characters and the film proceeds in a mild manner. Entertainment quotient is zero and there is hardly a scene where the audience can connect and flow with the characters.

Mani Ratnam has attempted to portray a tinge of Ramayana in a Ballet mode but the poor background score and just one good song was not much of a help. The film survives only due to two things – exceptional cinematography and breathtaking locations.

It recalls MF Hussain’s ‘Gajagamini’ to some extent while projecting some scenes in poetic-ballet manner.

Editing was alright, costumes didn’t have much work and the art department was natural. If we are to take this as a new age Ramayana then questions will arise on the integrity of Lord Rama’s character. In a way, the villain is shown as the bad man with the good heart while the hero is shown as the good man with a crooked heart so conflict of interest happens.

Weak dialogues and lack of comedy is another setback and to connect to the backdrop of the story could also be difficult. Overall, the film’s only life is its technical values but the narrative or writing are very poor. Mass has nothing to gain from it and other genre audience must have patience to watch it. The openings will be good for the film for obvious reasons but then the chances of film making it to the success mark is very bleak.

Bottomline: Not interesting