Raavan (2010) रावन
Director: Mani Ratnam
Authors: Mani Ratnam, Vijay Krishna Acharya
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Govinda, Vikram
Plot: When a new police inspector comes to "their" village, the people living in the woods kidnap his wife, their leader being the animal-like Beera. However, Beera is not able to kill Ragini, the wife, and takes her to the home of the wood-people, where he finds himself falling in love with her.Hidden Plot: Mani Ratnam tries to interpretate the Ramayana in a revolutionary way, discovering the good side of Raavan/ Beera.
I'd been wanting so watch Raavan for such a long time now, and it has (as always) been wonderful to be satisfied by a film that you've had high expectations to. After reading some reviews, I had feared a Saawariya-vu, but no, my Mani didn't let me down - he never does.
The film starts out perfectly already, with the genial "Beera", which was the only track I listened to before watching the film. Nothing unusual - I often can't relate to a soundtrack without having seen the film, even if the music is Rahman. Funnily, I'd say the soundtrack is one of the best 2010-BW-soundtracks, after having seen the movie now... I've listened to it the whole day. Every song is magical in its own way, the only one I don't like that much is "Kata Kata".
Wet, more wet, Raavan... Almost felt like a two-hour-shower.
Moreover, almost everything about Raavan is magical - which obviously is quite beneficial for a film inspired by an old religious tale. Never does anything definitely magical happen, but the interaction of Santosh Sivan & Manikandan's camera work, Rahmans music and Ratnam's concise but playful direction creates a sensation of mystery that captives the viewer.
Abhishek Bachchan said that he lost confidence after Raavan flopped, and criticized the editing on twitter, as soon as it was clear that the film was a flop. To me, the flaws are not to be found in the very fitting editing, but in Abhishek's performance, which admittedly was bumpy in parts. He did gain the sympathies of the audience, but on the other side, many of his reactions are hard to relate to, for example him being unable to kill Ragini, or the sudden love that he develops towards her. Of course, this is written in the screenplay - and I actually like these rather un-realistic reactions, as it is supposed to be some kind of a dark fairy tale, or at least a mythology-inspired film, but Abhishek fails in portraying this in the right way - at least sometimes. After hearing a lot of praise on Vikram (who plays the inspector in this one) 's portrayal of Beera in the Tamil version Raavanan, I'm eager to watch that one.
Yes, it was also raining in that scene... or something else... at least there was water...
Aishwarya Rai (yes, I know: Rai-Bachchan, but there's no melody in that), however, does not have these problems, being perfectly cast for the role of the bewitching, fearless-seaming Ragini. I think it was a good choice to cast her in the Tamil version as well. Even though there's not much room for real romance, the on-screen chemistry between Aishwarya and Abhishek is very nice, even though many people don't think so and find they shouldn't continue doing films together, "just because they're married". I also cannot imagine Mani Ratnam would cast two actors in the same film just because they're married.
As in every other Mani Ratnam film, everything seems to be thought-out to the smallest details, and the best is just good enough. For example, Aishwarya's costumes were designed by sophisticated designer Sabyasachi, which indeed added to the magic of the film, and the film was shot at various outdoor locations all over the country.
Only little frustration was the lack of depth in the characters - we never really get to know them or their backgrounds, so it's hard to relate and build a bond to the main characters.
Otherwise, Raavan included all I had expected: art, magic, great music, entertainment and new-wave-flair. Thumbs up.
Thank you for reading,Mette M. K.