Cast: Aishwarya Rai, Abhishek Bachchan, Vikram, Govinda, Ravi Kishan
Director: Mani Ratnam
Raavan – There's a rascal in everyone!
Mani Ratnam, as a film maker has taken a huge risk with Raavan. He has sort of (mind you, sort of not entirely) tried to recreate the historic and deeply revered story of Ramayan. And he just doesn't stop right there, he has dared the audience to think new, wider the horizons of their usual thinking and accept a very contemporary angle to this ancient story.
Whether the film maker has been successful in actually making the people accept this new thought, is something I leave to each individual to judge. But one thing's definitive - You undeniably can't help not feel the pressure to think unconventionally. You may give in to the pressure partially, wholly, repulse it instantly altogether or after accepting his point of view.
The plot is simple enough. Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) has become the undoubted ruler and protector of Laalmaati thanks to his reputation to meet any end to keep his people and their lands from harm's way. However, since his ways are illegal, he naturally becomes the enemy of the state. Hearing his story the zealous Superintendent of Police Dev (Vikram) comes to this remote town with the sole ambition of bringing Beera down.
As Dev crosses one limit after the other in the search for Beera, Beera makes his move by kidnapping Dev's wife Ragini (Aishwarya Rai). However, little does he know that he would fall for Ragini and she in turn would bring his fall. Beera, a devil of a guy, whose favorite playtime is to tease death, is surprised to find himself at the mercy of a fragile thing with a bold heart. For him, the summon of death is so gorgeous, he is blinded by it.
The film easily lifts us into this magical world where everything is fresh, green and straight out of the heart of the earth. The vivid colors of nature have been clearly captured thanks to the smooth hands of the DoP Santosh Sivan. Those who are into pink and neon eye-candy may not be able to appreciate the raw beauty of tribal life captured by this director-cinematographer duo but for those who can it's a treat!
The slow start may be boring to a few but the pace develops in the second. We get to see the gradual lifting of each layer in each character. As the many facets of a single person is revealed we realize there is indeed a Raavan in every one. It all comes to a thrilling climax which makes the snail-paced start worth it.
A. R. Rahman's music is aptly enchanting and its best to just get carried away by its undertones. They're haunting, chilling, thrilling and exhilarating.
The actors have done an amazing job. Aishwarya as the wife, the abducted and the baffled middle-person in a war that she doesn't understand or want is good. Abhishek is convincing as the uncivilized barbaric Beera. And of course, as the good person behind that facade too. Vikram as the good looking, calculating cop is smooth. The obvious chemistry between Ash – Vikram and the subtle sexual tension between Ash- Abhishek is tangible.
The comic relief by Ravi Kishan and Govinda is measured yet effective.
Raavan takes us on a mystical trip into the rainforest, something Mani uses as a perfect metaphor for the unknown realms of human minds. As he takes you deeper into the forest, the multiple persona of the characters are revealed one by one.
The best part of the whole movie is that it offers scope for a lot of varied interpretations. No one will have the same perspective of the film and that is itself a goal of filmmaking achieved. This meaningful cinema may not appeal to the mass audience but it's a trip worth taking.
Reporter and Author: Susan Jose