When The Gods Fall (GF on Raavan)


Much as the cinematography of Mani Ratnam’s latest film has been (rightly) feted to no end, another regular Ratnam collaborator deserves as much credit with regard to the tone and obvious, overwhelming visual power of Raavan. A. Sreekar Prasad has been editing Ratnam’s movies since Alaipayuthey and nowhere is the impact of his skill as aggressive and consistent and important as it is with this film. The opening montage he and Ratnam stitch together is masterly—a hallucination of a scene that is cut with such precision and pulsating strength that it gets things off to a bone-rattling start while also, importantly, clueing us in to how this film will unfold, and what the political and personal stakes are. Every single shot here—from the coy tribal woman luring two horny policemen into a trap to the human bodies set aflame to the hugely energetic sight of Abhishek Bachchan rattling drums (he is the “conductor” here) to the sight of a hawk’s graceful flight past his towering frame, is important and carefully chosen. The result of the moment (aided immeasurably by an incredibly dynamic Rahman background score) and the film as a whole is an intoxicating whirlwind that feels every bit like what it is—an ancient myth meeting (or smashing head-first into) a modern storytelling technique.

As was the case in the last great Ratnam film, Kannathil Muthamittal, Raavan’s narrative at its most stripped-down core concerns a certain bourgeois complacency coming into contact with savage political reality. It is “Sita” (here Ragini, played very well by Aishwarya Rai) who frames this Ramayana re-telling—it is her arc that guides us. In the very beginning, she urges her “Ram” (or Dev – a superb Vikram) to basically man-up and find a good Dusshera moment to kill the “Raavan” of their story. We glean from this fleeting bit that Ragini is cavalier with regard to what it means to kill, and is fully-aware that her husband is an encounter-specialist type of policeman. A hit man for the state. By the end of the film it’s more than clear that Ratnam has given his Sita a far greater understanding about the cost and character of violence, and the concept of death is now invested with meaning because the victim is no longer a faceless, nameless concept perpetuated by agents of the state.

It is exactly this “facelessness” that Ratnam works vigorously against in constructing the emphatically multifaceted Beera character played with robust intensity by Abhishek Bachchan in a sadly, easily misunderstood performance. For all the stress placed on ten heads, a thousand names and all that, what this performance taps into is the most classical representation of the Ramayana’s characters by performers of any kind—the Kathakali dance drama. In a performance composed of several shades of greasepaint, facial ticks, violent, broad smiles, loud grunts and constant hand and body gestures, Abhishek and Ratnam seem to have devised a style of performance that conflates naturalism with dance-drama mudras and musicality. The result is sometimes awkward and funny, but it’s also very thoughtful, not only because, politically, this overwrought character-construct strongly highlights personal and cultural identity for an otherwise blindly “demonized” enemy of the state, but also because this “dance” of a performance is the very reason why Beera and Ragini are gradually drawn to one another in a plausible manner. They are both dancers—one by profession, the other in character. Their words say one thing, (typically expressing their enmity) but their gestures truly “speak”.

The Khilli Re moment is especially provocative in this sense. Here we have a moment of reverie experienced by Dev, who, mid-manhunt, seems to desperately want his wife back only so that he can then leave this jungle-hell and once again re-imagine his blissful, bourgeois domestic life—complete with pasta and wine (important given how much “local food” is privileged by one of the tribal characters) and picturesque views. Dev wants no part in this new world he’s been thrust into—he only moves forward, carves through its landscape and its peoples, to get what he wants. During this song interlude, we see Ragini again in her pre-kidnapping phase as a somewhat happily complacent and naïve person—perfectly underlined by her being surrounded by mirthful children who learn classical dance under her instruction while Dev walks around these scenes in uniform or conferring with his underlings. Ragini is a skilled, inventive dancer who, in Khilli Re, fuses her everyday with broad, stagey gestures (much like Beera) while her husband, interestingly, remains staunchly, almost aggressively stiff throughout the entire episode of Ragini’s “performances” here. It’s a masterstroke by Ratnam because on a superficial level, the Khilli Re song evokes a nice sense of marital happiness, but it also establishes a broad, underlying schism in this marriage. At baseline, these are two very different people.

Perhaps this is why the film is book-ended by two moments of a certain “blindness” being lifted from Ragini. The first time she is blindfolded by Beera, in the very beginning, the cloth is removed so that she is exposed to a ravishing, unforgiving new world and its harsh lessons about violence and oppression. The second time he blinds her, towards the end, the darkness is lifted to reveal a new and even bleaker truth about the nature of her own Ram. The man she claims at one point to be her “bhagwan” exposes a dark, obsessed side she sees for the first time, firsthand. At the center of Raavan is an act of unspeakable violence committed against a woman (played in the most affecting of all the performances by Priyamani) that is the cause of Beera’s fury and quest for vengeance. Ragini hears of this and is horrified, doubly so when she later realizes her husband might be capable of this kind of misogyny and “violence.” It is at this point, in the center, that it becomes clear that the gods have left the building. They are fallen, broken and in their shards emerge lesser beings—humans—who are never as simple as good or evil.

One of the many strokes of visual genius that connect to this idea is a mesmerizing piece of set design (Samir Chanda deserves every award coming to him) where Ratnam has an enormous, capsized statue of a god lying in repose across a large stream. It is here where Ragini turns to a “bhagwan” to pray for her lost naiveté, a return to her blindness to the problems outside of her personal, apolitical comfort zone. But that god, like all the rest, has fallen deaf, mute and inactive. This of course isn’t the only piece of imagery that’s simply stunningly provocative. Ratnam and Sivan outdo themselves at each turn—showing a level of thought that neither of them has brought to the table since their masterwork, Iruvar. Particularly interesting here is a shot showing Ragini falling from a cliff onto branches that catch her mid-fall—almost as if the landscape formed a “hand” and intentionally snatched her out of the air.

This certainly seems to be what Beera thinks—he replays the moment of her falling over and over again because, yes he respects her daring, but he also seems to see some meaning, some direction in this image. His world seems to have consciously decided to save this woman, forbidding his killing her. And therein begins his fascination with her. It is the natural world of this film that has decided to bring these people together. So many close shots are framed with a twig or some leaves in the foreground, so many moments include falling or running water moving things along (with a sense of inevitability) as if Sivan and Ratnam are telling us that the world is cradling these characters and carrying them along on their respective journeys. Even Beera cannot challenge the dictates of this dynamic natural world. So the fact that both he and Ragini never really make physical contact through the whole film (following the Kamba Ramayanam here, with one notable exception) doesn’t seem to matter because they are always connected by the “constant fluidity” of this world. The persistent spray of mist, the rainwater that moistens every frame, all of this also envelops and even binds the captor and captive. Beera seems to silently understand this. This Raavan is subservient to his own Lanka up to the very end. So the film’s final shot might on the one hand show Beera falling into the natural abyss, but it wouldn’t be wrong to posit that he is surrendering himself to the will of the world as it swallows him up entirely, assimilating him into its deep and now (to Ragini, to Ratnam, to us) eternally unknowable landscape. We lose the true bhagwan of this tale, watching him plummet to join the rest of the fallen gods.

122 Responses to “When The Gods Fall (GF on Raavan)”

  1. mksrooney Says:

    oh man its raining.. its raining wisdom 🙂
    q bhai,
    satyam
    and npw u gf..

    what a weekend.. couldnt have been better and having watched the movie and reading all the views.. it just makes magical .. agreed with most words.. except abhisekh failed to impact me..

    its a treat to read it. 🙂

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  2. mksrooney Says:

    and some of ur points enlighten me .. which i had missed..

    like two different people.. wine and tribal food..
    ragini blindfolded two times.. once to see BEERA WORLD.. AND SECOND TIME RAMS WORLD.. TRUE INNER WORLD.

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  3. mksrooney Says:

    “It is exactly this “facelessness” that Ratnam works vigorously against in constructing the emphatically multifaceted Beera character played with robust intensity by Abhishek Bachchan in a sadly, easily misunderstood performance. For all the stress placed on ten heads, a thousand names and all that, what this performance taps into is the most classical representation of the Ramayana’s characters by performers of any kind—the Kathakali dance drama. In a performance composed by several shades of greasepaint, facial ticks, violent, broad smiles, loud grunts and constant hand and body gestures, Abhishek and Ratnam seem to have devised a style of performance that conflates naturalism with dance-drama mudras and musicality. ”

    NOW BOY O BOY THIS IS SOMETHING OUT OF BLUE.. I CANT COMMENT DONT KNOW A HINT ABOUT IT.. totally ignorance on my path.. but even so i guess i wouldnt be able to appreciate it.. as i lack basic understanding.. and if so RATHNAM AND ABHISEKH SHOULD HAVE INFORMED PRIOR TO MOVIE ABOUT IT.

    but interesting to ponder..

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  4. I’m not reading anyone’s reviews, since I haven’t seen the film.

    But Rooney’s comment above reminds me of something I’ve wanted to say many times in the context of this film. Namely, Raavan doesn’t/didn’t/never had ten heads! He was called “dasakantha”, meaning his voice was as the voice of ten — i.e., its strength/volume was like that of ten voices/men. This would be a useful qualification for a military leader in the days when there were no electronic amplification or communication devices available, and so he had to lead his men purely by his voice into the battle. Surely, a general who could make himself heard to his soldiers in the blare of battle had an advantage.

    Unfortunately this got distorted/corrupted in the popular mythology as Raavan having ten heads, which was never the case (much as Ram/Krishna were never “blue”, but “blue-black”). I only bring it up now because this “myth” of the ten heads (I am using the word “myth” in its usual sense of “lie”) seems to be at the bottom of the split personality interpretation of this character in the film.

    I also found the quoted bit about Kathakali interesting, mainly because, even without seeing the film, I wondered if elements of that kind of performance had been borrowed for the film (because of a reference to Noh in one review). But I must say that i would never characterize Kathakali as having “constant and body gestures”; the performances I have seen had what i would call “occasional” hand body gestures.

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    • mksrooney Says:

      now sm .. thats some info.. some knowledge.. guys how do u know so much.. !!

      thansk a lot.. really fascinating..

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    • SM, I find it problematic to locate the ‘origins’ of myths.. it is certainly fascinating to understand how myths evolve over time and how these mirror the concerns of different societies over time (something that makes this mode of experience richer and more flexible compared to many others in my view).. but I don’t think any one stage in that ‘evolution’ is necessarily ‘truer’ than another.. and again it’s hard to point to ‘one’ origin for any such myth.. I certainly don’t think of it as ‘corruption’ or ‘distortion’.. but one must also take this further if one is inclined to think along those lines.. isn’t the entire universe of Sanskrit signification (not only in terms of epics..) really a ‘corruption’ of a much more ‘primally’ expressed ‘Vedic’ universe.. in different words isn’t the Sanskritic phase of ‘myth’ really a ‘Brahminization’ of for example the impulses of the Rg Veda? Getting back to the initial point doesn’t the power of myth lie in the fact that it ‘refuses’ the canonical version at every turn (whether on origins or anything else)? Even in the most canonical texts of ‘myth’ there are always multiple possibilities embedded in the tradition (i.e. those recognized as canonical).

      The modern psychological twist which Rathnam gives the Raavan ten heads theme is not a bad one (and perhaps owes something to Anniyan!). And is no different from Freudian takes on Greek myth.

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  5. Why_so_serious Says:

    But I must say that i would never characterize Kathakali as having “constant and body gestures”; the performances I have seen had what i would call “occasional” hand body gestures.
    ——–
    Absolutely SM and if anything, as GF himself admits it isn’t as awkward and funny (as Abhishek purely is in his animated gimmicks) by a long shot. It’s just a failed execution on his part. Please watch Vikram, now that’s the kind of performance one instinctively reacts to !

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    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathakali

      this article would seem to contest your and SM’s point on the ‘constant gestures’.

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      • Why_so_serious Says:

        I don’t see anything there that ‘contrasts’ as much, but yeah the mudras and rasas are seemingly constant in the sense they are never ‘off’, but do believe that it’s well defined, refined and has occasional ‘surge’ and is devoid of radical surges & gimmicks that defines the awkward Abhishak performance.

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        • As I understand GF (and he can of course correct me on this) the Kathakali model introduces ‘disconsonant’ strains in what would otherwise be an ‘even’ theatrical performance. In much the same way that Mifune in much of his work with Kurosawa also drew on certain Japanese theater traditions (Kurosawa loved the formalism of Noh but Mifune is probably more the ‘kabuki’ actor even if the element of the ‘mask’ in his performance perhaps derives more from the former). I have in any case often found points of coincidence between Noh and Kathakali. In any case what ought not to be missed with Abhishek’s performance in Raavan is precisely the
          ‘stylization’. Not sure if his act can be read along entirely naturalistic registers. I will watch Raavanan in a couple of days but based on my own sense of Vikram’s screen history I wonder if his own performance might not be the latter though.. i.e. more ‘even’ in that it is also more ‘controlled’ and operating more along that naturalistic scale.
          Certainly Vikram, Abhishek, Rathnam have always stressed that the performances are fundamentally different.
          I look forward to Vikram of course to see how his own performances impacts my overall sense of the film and story.

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          • Why_so_serious Says:

            But there’s a vast gulf of gap between Kathakali and Kabuki, let alone Noh – each offer different connotations and interpretations of ‘theatricality’ – in fact the former tries its best to efface overt gimmicks in its sophisticated moves, The said tradition fall in different ends of prism. Others like Bharathanatyam and therukoothu, to name two, fall somewhere in-between in its dramatic mechanism. Mudras and rasas of Kathakali, despite its surge of emotions, is essentially organic, and not theatric rendition.

            Here’s Kamal showing rasas of different classical “dance” tradition here:

            Here’s GF’s favorite actor doing a famous ‘act’ in Kathakali :

            Notice the eyebrow and face gestures in both Kamal’s dance (where there’s a different gear of gracefulness and refinement between bharathanatyam, kathak and kathakali) and Lal’s act (note the mudras being so graceful – there’s also one in youtube of his ‘act’ as karna to especially check out the mudras)

            This further underlines why radical mannerisms can’t easily be clubbed into this. I only wish it was interpreted differently, and preferably played by a superior actor than Abhishek. I rest my case.

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          • I don’t think one has to be so literal about it.. no one is saying the film offers a Kathakali performance nor that Mifune is a Noh or Kabuki actor.. just that in each instance there are genealogies to consider… or that impulses are derived from these art forms.. no serious film director would simply try to replicate an art form.. Kurosawa attempted shakespeare and introduced Japanese theater into it.. a strange intoxicating combo…

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  6. mksrooney Says:

    some great reading of kathakali.. and ten voices.. enlightened..

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  7. This piece is truly as beautiful as the film.. specially the last paragraph which matches the elegiac quality of the film’s final portion..

    Your paragraph on Abhishek’s performance here is also unique for the kathakali genealogy you introduce here. I myself thought (following up on a point expressed in a review) that the Mifune kind of performance was also perhaps not a bad model here. In any case your own point is perfectly crystallized in the post-interval Thok de khilli.

    Even elsewhere your piece just keeps introducing insight upon insight.. so much to chew on.. easily one of your best ones.. I consider myself humbled.. yours and Qalandar’s are the pieces I would have liked to write..

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    • Very kind Satyam.

      With respect to the “elegiac” ending one thing that adds to this beautifully realized tone is the unreleased song by Rahman. It is absolutely criminal that this is not available on the album (I know it was a last minute entry) and one hopes it’s put out there some time soon…

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      • yes and going by Bachchan’s comments there was a moment in the film corresponding perfectly to this song.. There’s perhaps an even richer film here in the director’s cut.. I almost pray at this point that they don’t settle for just a deleted scenes segment.. ideally there should be a double disc including the director’s version as well. But I might as well wish for honesty from Nahata and Adarsh!

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    • Why_so_serious Says:

      If I were to sum up what went wrong in Raavan, it’d perhaps be, ‘Ramayan killed the Raavan star’.
      In other words, nothing is wrong with Raavan – the audience’s expectation of it being Ramayan’s retelling is the problem. There is enough intelligence pumped by Mani into this film but unfortunately the country is very busy trying only to compare it to the epic and being massively disappointed at the so-called literal adaptations.
      You want literal? Go watch Rajneeti, which despite some deft writing, also had a completely meaningless Kunti-meets-Karan scene. In the epic, it had a meaning – to save Arjun, from Karan – in the film, Ranbir’s role did not really have any major danger from Ajay Devgn! And still, only to ensure that it is Mahabharat we’re watching, writers Prakash Jha and Anjum Rajabali add that scene, perhaps half-heartedly.
      Now, this review is going to be spoiler-loaded. So, if you’re the type who hates spoilers, stop reading. But, I can assure you that the following can make you watch the film, if you still haven’t seen it and have read only other reviews so far.
      Ok then…answer this question. In Ramayan, what was the first and second points of connections between Ram and Raavan? No, forget the intricacies like Ram was born to vanquish an evil like Raavan, but brush up your popular TV version. Wouldn’t it be Surpanaka’s entry into the story (proposing to Lakshman and Ram) and the subsequent abduction of Sita, by Raavan?
      This connection, despite the fact that Raavan was an Asur (Rakshas) and is known for his atrocities, as also his other good side that the epic so laboriously explains, is everything that you needed to remember. It is this plot point that differs radically from the epic, in the film – Maniratnam’s Ram (Dev) is after Raavan, with a vengeance, long before his wife is abducted.
      Why? I mean why was Dev after Beera?
      That part is merely glossed over with a ‘unginath’ crimes dialog, while we do not clearly know if Beera’s crimes are as heinous as Priyamani’s rape or Hariya’s murder.
      And, that’s precisely where Maniratnam’s brilliance comes out. No seriously – think about it.
      Here’s a film maker who’s retelling (allegedly) an incredibly well known epic. He knows fully well that the entire country knows this epic inside out. So, the first thing an intelligent film maker would have thought is on how to add value to something so common. The above plot point is precisely that.
      In the epic, Ram’s motivations are driven entirely by his wife’s abduction and his quest to rescue her.
      In Maniratnam’s Raavan, Dev’s motivations existed much before the abduction – it is basically a cop vs dacoit story, where Sita’s abduction attempts to become a collateral damage.
      And, this seemingly inconsequential point makes all the difference.
      To be honest, I’ve read numerous reviews on Friday and Saturday, before watching the film and the one thing that worried me the most was that it seemed (according to those reviewers) that Mani had so literally adapted Ramayan, that it looked like juvenile spoon-feeding. So…14, Hanuman jumping, Surpanaka’s nose, Raavan falling in love with Sita, Polygraph test etc. But what these reviewers did not notice was that Mani had a fantastic subtext when seen in the above perspective of why Dev is after Beera.
      In fact, I’d say that all that literal depiction of Ramayan are far and few, and are quite good, in a filmy context. What Mani conceals, works far, far better, than what he shows, however.
      He doesn’t show why exactly Dev is after Beera. He doesn’t how his Hanuman (Govinda) manages to reach Sita, which was a showstopping part in the epic. He doesn’t show how much Dev and Raagini love each other; it is merely underlined, hurriedly, in one song, so beautifully choreographed by actress Shobana.
      And, they all make sense, when you watch how the film ends.
      For instance, when I read about the polygraph test part in many reviews, I cringed. Mani…so literally adapting the agni pariksha as a polygraph test? No way!…was my reaction. But, see it from the above perspective, it makes sense, so well, since it is only a bait, in the mind of Dev, who puts his capture of Beera as top priority, and not rescuing Raagini. The rescue was important, but he’s a cop after a dacoit and that is a larger purpose he’s after much before his wife came into the picture. So, he doesn’t think twice before using his own wife as a bait to nab Beera.
      That’s very un-Rama-like, I agree, but besides shooting Vibishan (Hariya), I do not see any other obvious wrongs by Dev that may portray him as grey. Even shooting this messenger of peace makes perfect sense if you see the larger picture – Beera’s gang is vicious and has killed cops and indulged in ‘unginath’ crimes. And of course, if Hariya joins Dev or is even let go, then the Raagini angle is pointless in the film.
      But we’re Hindi cinema’s children and we need to be told in graphic detail as to what Beera and his gang’s crimes are. Else, we do not sympathize with Dev’s story. Perhaps, if Mani had shown that Hariya had raped a senior cop’s daughter, we may have empathized with Dev better. But, it is that sort of over simplification that we do not expect from Mani. Instead, Mani teases us with seemingly oversimplified points from Ramayan, while they are completely beside the main plot and exist only to challenge his viewers on looking beyond those, into the subtexts.
      The film, while making you believe that it is a literal retelling of Ramayan, packs enough variations all through, particularly in the beginning when Beera’s background is not entirely revealed, and in the end when the motivations of each player is clearly revealed, that it is astonishing that so many reviewers missed the point.
      Need another proof? Think about it – why would Mani adopt a non-linear narrative? If he were to make the film in linear narrative, it would start with Beera’s atrocities as point A; the cops forming a special team headed by Dev, to nab Beera, as point B; Raagini’s kidnap as point C; Raagini’s rescue as point D and finally Beera’s capture as point E.
      What do we get in the film? Mani starts with point C, while point B is used as a small flashback, with an objective to intentionally gloss over both B and A (cops being killed in random fashion, for no apparent reason). A point C.25 is introduced for the viewers to confuse themselves with Beera’s goodness and another C.5 and C.75 to depict police atrocities, in Priyamani’s wedding and her rape. But, in reality, the cops’ barging into Priyamani’s wedding is perhaps the first scene in the film, since it happens long before Beera even knew about Raagini’s existence and is happening ONLY because Beera has been a bloody bad-ass dacoit in the previous, unseen and unshot scenes. Yes, the cops’ action (on Priyamani) is horrendous, but now that you know my perspective, doesn’t it look like a bait to the viewer to re-color their leads, into shades of grey, where once, it was assumed that white is white and black is black?
      Then, it moves to point D and E. If you think about it, E happens in Ramayan before D does. Isn’t that enough reason to assume Dev’s motivations as being radically different from Ram’s?
      There are small nuances that work here brilliantly. Raagini, when she’s confronted by Beera, after he gets out alive from that bridge duel, does say she’ll go with him, much to Beera’s joy. But she also adds that she’d do it if Beera lets her husband live – Beera has a loaded gun, you see. She had the gun, but did not kill him since she has seen some of his goodness (and not seen, but only heard the other, bad side). Even while Raagini is seen praying to that massive designer God trying his best to sleep in the jungle river, she talks of being swayed by the people’s innocence and goodness, not Beera’s alone. And, when she goes back to Raavan, after the polygraph test debacle, Mani’s writing is intentionally and smartly ambiguous – it is as much about asking what the F did Beera tell Dev that her loving hubby has changed into a pig, as it is about getting to jiggy with Beera.
      The ending is nothing short of amazing. The use of the polygraph test as a hook, on his own wife, is a masterstroke of writing, knowing fully well (based on what Beera tells Dev while hanging in the bridge) that she is likely to go to him on a rebound-type impact. In fact, while the audience may be amazed over how differently Dev and Raagini interpret Beera’s utterances to Dev in the bridge and assume Dev to be a bloody chauvinist pig, consider what he was after in the first place, as a cop.
      Then, the polygraph test can be seen in a completely new light and it may look like Mani was merely teasing his audiences to see things in their own way. Even in the final scene, Beera so longingly explains what he told Dev, to Raagini, since she’s there to enquire about that, more than joining him. As he explains, he ends it with a question, ‘What did Dev say to all this? After all, he’s the devta and mahaan to you, right?’, knowing fully well that things haven’t gone well between the husband and wife. And Raagini tells him, ‘Dev suspected me’. That immediately changes Beera’s expression since he knows the whole thing was a trap and his face fully displays the horror of two things – one, he’s on the verge of capture, and two, how meticulously Dev has used his own wife and Beera’s besotted utterances to his advantage.
      It is at this point, it dawns on the slightly evolved viewer that the modern avatar of Ram – Dev – is a super smart, duty-bound cop, more than a loving husband. And Beera, like most bad guys is only bothered about escaping the cops’ clutches despite his brave talk to Govinda about how he’s not scared of being caught.
      If the film has a drawback, it is only due to the cardboard couple, Abhishek and Aishwarya. They are too picture perfect and angrezi type for the normal Indian viewer to empathize with them in such rustic and harsh surroundings. Abhishek’s caricatur’ish buffoonery is a pain too – he takes his Raavan tag a tad too seriously and his manic blabber is annoying to the core. The film perhaps needed a slightly more mature performer – possibly Ajay Devgn type (but he has already done a Beera, in Lajja!) or even a Langda Tyagi type Saif Ali Khan. And the less I say about Aishwarya, the better. I’d have gone with Vidya Balan, any day, but I could not have made her a lissome classical dancer, with her very-Indian, child bearing hip…interior designer, perhaps?
      Vikram is perfect, but has a sidelined role. Also, his desperate attempts to strut around in Ray-Bans seems like a very obvious attempt by Mani and his team to camouflage the fact that he looks exactly like Beera, in many scenes, considering he’s playing that role in Tamil. Hope Prithviraj did not promote Ray-Ban to this extent in the Tamil version.
      The supporting cast, by nature of them being known, but not too popular stars (currently) – Nikhil Dwivedi, Govinda, Ravi Kishen – add a lot of value, by being in the background. Priyamani gets a small, but interesting role, devoid of Surpanaka’s vices and she does it pretty well.
      The film is incredibly shot, by Santosh Sivan and Manikandan, while Rahman’s music is a massive asset all through. The songs are used brilliantly and the locations are consistently jaw dropping. The film is far from a bore (as Rajeev Masand and Raja Sen have emphatically dismissed it) – it is tightly edited, barring multiple shots of Raagini jumping off the cliff and progresses decently enough.
      The writer in Mani is alive and at his best. It’s a pity he is wasting it on below average performers like Abhishek and Aishwarya. Perhaps it is time for him to stop these trilinguals and focus on one language, even though they make for a pan-Indian jamboree and hence, more money.

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      • mksrooney Says:

        brilliant stuff…

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      • excellent comment/review!

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      • I have scanned your review; I feel I have read so many spoilers already that a few more couldn’t hurt — but here’s my question to you, that was prompted by your observation that it is the inversion of Dev’s (Ram’s) motive for going after Beera that is Ratnam’s brilliance. And actually I has this question after reading other reviews, too. If the audience’s expectation of seeing the Ramayana is what is making them react negatively, why is the film even called Ravan? Isn’t it precisely to evoke that connection? If the director didn’t want the audience to have that story in mind, then why not call this something else, even the ridiculously titled “Villain” (in Telugu)? Alternately, why keep all the other details from the Ramayana the same, if he is going to change the main character so radically?

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  8. What can I say? Nothing but read in awe to the insightfulness of GF, Satyam and Q. Fantastic reading into a film that down the years might be appreciated more than in present times. Really enjoyed Rooney’s review as well . Still think it be appreciated more by western audiences who like their characters underplaying their roles and my expectations have gone up tremendously and catching it in the next couple of days.

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  9. Good honest review why so serious and it also goes with my point of view of why western reviews paint a far better picture film as well as performance wise.

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  10. great observation.

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  11. Bachchan on twitter:

    Yes it was all there, but sadly edited. Abhishek’s erratic behavior was due to symbolic 10 heads visually appearing..and each giving him different attitudes to adopt for a situation, he would then finally shake them off and decide in the edit all the visual heads got cut and you see a confused Beera expression and wonder why .. it was after he removed the other head visuals from his thinking.. in the edit you see the after effect of that thinking process, hence inconsistent

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    • @juniorbachchan headlines today misquotes your father as saying that mani’s direction and bad editing did raavan’s failure

      bachchan’s reply:

      media will find any excuse to castigate you. that was my response to Jitesh saying same thing ..but they would not print that. Jitesh Pillai is editor of Filmfare .. so when he critises its right, when we comment its attack ..

      Like

    • interesting.. really hope we see a director’s cut here.. it seems to be clear that in the streamlining of the film some of Abhishek’s characterization was lost. Having said that I suspect Rathnam took out segments where Abhishek was alone. Notice how some of the stills are not really seen in the film. I found it especially noteworthy that there are a few where Beera is before the statue, lying down almost within it, standing in front of it with his arms up in the air, all this wasn’t in the film.. but you see Ragini at one point there and then she discovers Beera next to her.. perhaps there might have been a Beera scene or two before Ragini arrives.. perhaps at another point.. I don’t know but either way some scenes were clearly removed and my sense is that Rathnam more or less wanted to present Raavan as it were only through ‘Sita’.

      Like

    • Bachchan said in a few other tweets as well that a lot of material was edited out causing inconsistencies..

      Like

      • Aishwarya also mentioned in a couple of her pre release interviews that she hopes Mani retains the cut footage for the DVD release.
        This surprised me because she is not one to talk like this. She’s always very respectful and careful not to want to come off as being disrespectful to her directors. So it does make me wonder if the actors were unhappy with some of Mani’s choices.

        I enjoyed reading your review, GF. Made me want to see the film again which I had planned to do so this week.

        Like

    • mksrooney Says:

      HEY I MADE THIS POINT IN MY REVIEW..!!! i felt the same about it.

      “THE problem is there was no need for psycho but maybe that chik-chik..bik..bik or whatever in MY INTERPRETION was Abhisekh’s way of showing chaos of having TEN MINDS working together?? May be the director wanted to show how the most intelligent tribal had this psycho and animal thing yet that’s how he thought.”

      from my review.

      Like

  12. Why_so_serious, are you saying that dev’s charecter is more intellient than beera’s?

    Like

  13. why_so_serious Says:

    That is not my review folks. I posted the details from preceding link, a review by milliblog

    Like

    • mksrooney Says:

      i know but thats why a advise why so serious dude.. next time put few paras.. and link

      or seperate comment with heading.. of this guys version.. poor milliblog guy.. 😉

      Like

  14. Just to be clear, I’m not trying to say that this necessarily has to be a Kathakali-inspired performance. Just that it’s how it played out to me, how I made sense of it, and what really added constructively to my experience of the movie.

    And of course thanks for the comments.

    Like

  15. I’ll also say that it makes sense to me that this film might not strike a chord with many people. There have been a few articulate and persuasive negative reviews. My personal favorite comes from Indian Auteur:

    http://www.indianauteur.com/?p=1447#more-1447

    Ultimately it’s not about whether one likes or dislikes it. The film to my mind invites a number of readings and this is always a good thing. The review I’ve linked here puts it best:

    “One cannot deny, in conclusion, that Raavan is a film that must incite a lot of debate, if not through its achievements, then through its shortcomings; for it is not a miserable failure like say, My Name is Khan or Housefull, but an earnest ambitious failure by one of India’s most celebrated directors, and it remains essential that we do not deny him the luxury of consideration.”

    Like

  16. So , now its confirmed the movie was too much edited, i felt it while watching the movie.

    Its something like Hrithik talking about he,Papa and Anurag used to take turns and editing Kites and having fun on the way.

    Like

    • yes but as I just said that wouldn’t have been the difference on the box office front.. could Abhishek have got better reviews because of it? Possibly though I am somewhat skeptical even here.. when people respond so negatively to a film there is always something ‘larger’ going on.. here I think it’s the world of the film, the tone, the politics and so on much more than anything else. more Abhishek and/or Ash scenes would definitely have helped at the margins but I don’t believe much more than this.

      Like

  17. Just read this piece (haven’t gotten to the comments yet), a superb piece in a way I have come to expect from GF: i.e. he casts a light that one was otherwise blind to. I’m referring specifically to the third paragraph here — I’ll need to see the film again (hopefully today) to “see” the film by this light (and determine whether or not I’m able to access what GF is referring to), but this is enormously suggestive, intriguing even (and consistent with the level of care that infuses this film). A very thoughtful, imaginative reading of a film that is both.

    Like

  18. Thanks GF for your tohughts. Much appreciated.
    As usual beautiful writing and a unique take.

    Like

  19. ‘Raavanan’ Faces Protests in SL, Theatre Torched
    T V Sriram/Colombo | Jun 20, 2010

    A cinema hall planning to screen Raavanan was torched here amidst protests against the film owing to it’s star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and director Mani Ratnam’s decision to stay away from the IIFA awards held in Sri Lanka.

    An unidentified group in Eastern Sri Lanka has called on theatre owners in the country to boycott Tamil movies and the bi-lingual film, starring Abhishek Bachchan in the Hindi version and Vikran in Tamil, is the first victim.

    The group had sent hand bills to cinema owners, saying that the boycott of the IIFA event by Indian artistes had brought disrepute to Sri Lanka and therefore retaliation was just and appropriate.

    On Thursday, a day before the release of Raavanan, Shanthi cinema in Eastern Batticaloa, which was planning to screen the much hyped film was torched.

    The hall’s manager Kandasamy Murugesu said that three people came to his theatre on Monday and told him he should not screen films from Tamil Nadu.

    “I informed the Kattankudi police and three days later there was an arson attack,” The Sunday Times quoted him as saying.

    The manager said he would not bow to this threat and would screen films produced in Tamil Nadu and asked for police protection.

    Amitabh Bachchan, son Abhishek and daughter-in-law Aishwarya, had given the glitzy event a miss, citing work commitments.

    The Bachchan family’s decision to skip the event raised many eyebrows as megastar Amitabh Bachchan is the ambassador for IIFA.

    The celebration was boycotted by the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce as a mark of protest against the alleged mistreatment of Tamils in the country.

    The film industry in the state of Tamil Nadu, which shares close cultural and religious links with the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, stayed away from the event with superstars Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth also giving it a miss.

    Like

    • ideaunique Says:

      in a lighter vein – Raavan is lucky not to face any protests in India on the grounds of “tempering history” by the likes of Togadia (VHP) or Thackrey for that matter….:-) but one might think that in order get at-least huge initials on the lines of MNIK…..such a controversy might have helped 😉

      Like

      • Ideaunique,

        People went to watch MNIK for solidarity with SRK..I would be surprised if anybody goes to watch a movie to show solidarity with abhi and ash…Abhi is no Amitabh…

        Like

        • Solidarilty with SRK? What about paid 4 star reviews? Another thing is SRK always does RNDBj kind of stuff, people want to see him in different Avatar and KJO’s publicity

          Like

      • oldgold Says:

        I was hoping that satyam is deleting silly and foolish comments like ideaunique’s.

        @satyam, gf, qalandar, Rooney.

        I’m not reading reviews here yet in case I do get a chance of watching it.
        Just reading the comments which indicate very articulate and well expressed reviews.

        So I’m forced to comment on comments.

        Like

        • mksrooney Says:

          best wishes oldgold( if i m not wrong u a girl)

          madam u like it or dislike it… u will remeber raavan

          Like

        • not sure what you’re referring to.. unfortunately I can’t quite censor silliness! Unless of course it gets excessive and clutters the forum.

          Like

        • ideaunique Says:

          what silly and foolish? haven’t we observed these politicians making such protests in the past on the grounds of such wierdest excuses?? or u want to leave in self-made world of your “WISDOM” that anyone writing such stuff (evenif it was in a lighter vein) sounds foolishness to you? ha….what a WISE joke 🙂

          Like

  20. I have one question(with due respect to Mani, i have seen Roja,Bombay,Dil se,Yuva and Guru and liked most of them).

    Scenario 1) ” Mani Sir never re-shoots his movies” – was said a lot during promotions and making.

    Sceranio 2) Supposedly 20 mins of the movie have been cut.

    Does the 2 events overlap.

    Explanations are welcome.

    Like

    • Re-shooting has nothing to do with editing.. the former implies that you go back to certain material that you’ve already shot and ‘redo’ it. This is very different from editing the material one has shot just once any which way.

      Incidentally 20 min is my surmise.. no one has confirmed this.. presumably no one would be talking about it if it were just 5 min.. incidentally there were a few very fine deleted scenes even on the Guru DVD.. the thing is that this is actually the mark of a great director.. the lack of self-indulgence.. one therefore pities the reviewers who have at various times described Rathnam as such.. he is one of the most ruthless directors when it comes to respecting his vision.. who else for example would not retain a hit number like Ranjha in the film?! Now one might disagree with his vision but that’s not a director who lacks control of his material.

      Like

  21. Thanks.

    Like

  22. Unfortunately articles like these have started coming up in mainstream media:

    NEW DELHI: Three days after the release of Abhishek Bachchan starrer ‘Raavan’, Amitabh Bachchan has lamented that editing glitches ruined his son’s performance but some of the key players of the film have come to the defense of director Mani Ratnam.

    The much hyped film starring Aishwarya Rai opposite junior Bachchan opened to mixed reviews and Abhishek’s turn as Beera, the volatile anti-hero, was panned by many critics.

    Bachchan had tweeted that the “sad” editing ruined Abhishek’s role, but the film’s other star, Vikram and cinematographer Santosh Sivan have spoken out against Big B’s comments.

    “Lot of merited film edited out, causing inconsistent performance and narrative. Abhishek’s erratic behavior was due to symbolic 10 heads visually appearing and each giving him different attitudes to adopt for a situation, he would then finally shake them off and decide.

    “.. It’s sad, in the edit you only see the after effect of that thinking process, hence inconsistent. In the edit all the visual heads got cut and you see a confused Beera expression and wonder why?(sic),” tweeted Bachchan.

    Cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who has received universal praise for his camera work in the film said that the director’s prerogative cannot be questioned by anyone.

    “I personally think everyone has a right to their own opinion. At the end of the day, it’s the director’s call. It’s a different view point he has taken on ‘Raavanan’ which is a huge hit in the South,” said Sivan.

    Vikram who interestingly received good reviews for his turn as Veeraiyya in ‘Raavanan’, the same character as Abhishek’s in the Hindi version, said that it was the audience who was the ultimate judge of a film and nobody else.

    “I respect Mr Bachchan and I respect Mani sir. It’s not something I can comment about as it’s between Mani Sir and him though..(To the audience) You can hear a hundred things, some say its good, some say its bad. You are the ones who decide,” said Vikram.

    Bachchan who tweeted for a second time during the day accused the media for misinterpreting his statement as an affront to director Mani Ratnam.

    “there has and shall always be respect and dignity for him (Mani Ratnam).. media playing with words. Mani is one of our finest directors .. he should never stop making films (sic),” tweeted the veteran actor.

    The 54-year-old director, who made films like ‘Roja’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Bombay’ and ‘Guru’, which garnered both critical acclaim and box office success, has previously given Abhishek hits like ‘Yuva’ and ‘Guru’.

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Big-B-laments-Raavans-sad-editing-Vikram-Sivan-react/articleshow/6071884.cms

    Like

  23. ideaunique Says:

    little off-topic……is the stage being set for a MEGA SUCCESS of PEEPLI LIVE with the likes of Kites, Raavan not working wonders at the BO? next week’s release IHLS also faces a litmus test…..PL releases on 13th Aug’10…before that, we have MILENGE MILENGE, LAMHAA, UDAAN, KHATTA MEETHA, ISHA, ONCE UPON A TIME…..,

    Like

    • i have a feeling IHLS will rock and give Sonam her first hit. Just a hunch, it may be a big disaster if the content is bad.

      Like

  24. Yeah Ideaunique, Peepli Live should be success.

    Also i think Dobhi Ghat can do 70+ cr(if its full in Hindi).

    Like

  25. Loved Raavan. In a short sentence: This is Mani Ratnam’s best film since Iruvar.

    Like

    • that might well be true though I’d always have a shout out for KM.. in some ways KM has become a very personal favorite for me over time..

      Like

    • jayshah Says:

      Thats big praise. My weekend is nearly over and no sign of watching Raavan this weekend 😦
      Gonna have to be next week now.

      Like

      • ideaunique Says:

        Jay, from B.O. point of view – first half of 2010 is disappointing i guess – except for RAJNEETI, which other films have classified for a HIT status – what do u say?

        Like

        • jayshah Says:

          Only Rajneeti which I would say is a superhit and Housefull is a hit based on its steady run [after week 2 though]. Housefull bounced back quite well after Badmaash Company gave it competition.

          Like

          • ideaunique Says:

            thnx Jay….which r the moview u r putting ur money on in the 2nd half?

            Like

          • jayshah Says:

            I think all the Akshay films have a chance, anything with Aamir’s name to it, Anjaana Anjaani…personally think Action Replay could be really good!

            Like

  26. Some including theskeptic have expressed puzzlement over how Beera fell in love with Ragini all of a sudden. Well if any woman can cause that instant conversion it’s surely Ragini in this film! But leaving this aside the erotic component associated with this kind of ‘kidnapping’ is hardly new is it?! But also what is interesting here is that ‘leap’ by Ragini that stuns Beera. This is the last thing he expects, he reflects on it and this is what initially attracts him to her. I don’t believe he falls in love right away. On the other side of it keeping Ragini’s own feelings about Beera ambiguous to the very end is one of Rathnam’s master-strokes. She clearly does care about him, she clearly starts seeing him in a positive light compared to her husband. She clearly tries to shield him from the bullets but we do not know whether she ‘loves’ him and probably she doesn’t either. But I think the point here is that ‘love’ might not completely encapsulate the ‘relationship’ that develops between Ragini and beera on the former’s side of the equation.

    In relation to the kidnapping a crucial point should be stressed. In the bourgeois imagining of tribals and rurals and so on there is always violence around the corner. People murder and rape at the drop of a hat. Note however just how much Rathnam subverts this expectation. It’s not just about Beera. His brothers seem as incapable of raping anyone either! And even what they do with men who’ve wronged them is almost never really shown on screen in its entirety which by the way makes tha ‘hand-cutting’ moment important. In any case as we shift from Beera and his gang to Dev and his cohorts you sometimes find the latter much more scary than the former, certainly a more violent configuration. And the most unsettling gang-rape moment (only recounted.. making it far more terrible.. because it is then left to the imagination.. all good directors know not to ‘show’ too much) certainly occurs on the side of ‘state law’. So Beera and his tribals in fact defy all expectations in this sense.

    Like

    • This is a very fine critical piece. Probably the best such review. I actually don’t completely agree with the notes on the politics here but I’m glad he raises the tribal issue and in particular Operation Green Hunt. What this instantly reminded me of was Arundhati Roy’s vigilant stance on the operation and the issue of tribals as a whole. Given Roy’s memorable critical line about Ratnam’s last film (Guru) being a “chilling” picture that celebrates the rise of the Ambanis, (a criticism I tend to endorse though not whole-heartedly) one would love to know her thoughts on Raavan!

      One of the great pleasures of this movie is seeing Ratnam not only resurrect his stylistic dynamism following a rather stale formal approach in Guru, but also asserting a politics that at least on the most basic level aspires to something far more meaningful than a paean to corporate ambition.

      Like

      • Interesting review, but I am puzzled by the criticism that the film is “one-sided” and not a corrective to the existing “bias” of the epic text — when and where does the film claim that it seeks to operate in the grey zone, i.e. to muddy the waters? The film indicts Dev, and does not indict Raavan at all…

        Like

  27. One more thing: what they have done with the soundtrack is almost criminal. At least Ja Udd Ja Re and Ranjha alternate version should have been on the CD. One of the strongest ARR background scores.

    Like

  28. Three days after the release of Abhishek Bachchan starrer ‘Raavan’, Amitabh Bachchan has lamented that editing glitches ruined his son’s performance but some of the key players of the film have come to the defense of director Mani Ratnam.

    The much hyped film starring Aishwarya Rai opposite junior Bachchan opened to mixed reviews and Abhishek’s turn as Beera, the volatile anti-hero, was panned by many critics.

    Bachchan had tweeted that the “sad” editing ruined Abhishek’s role, but the film’s other star, Vikram and cinematographer Santosh Sivan have spoken out against Big B’s comments.

    “Lot of merited film edited out, causing inconsistent performance and narrative. Abhishek’s erratic behavior was due to symbolic 10 heads visually appearing and each giving him different attitudes to adopt for a situation, he would then finally shake them off and decide.

    “.. It’s sad, in the edit you only see the after effect of that thinking process, hence inconsistent. In the edit all the visual heads got cut and you see a confused Beera expression and wonder why?(sic),” tweeted Bachchan.

    Cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who has received universal praise for his camera work in the film said that the director’s prerogative cannot be questioned by anyone.

    “I personally think everyone has a right to their own opinion. At the end of the day, it’s the director’s call. It’s a different view point he has taken on ‘Raavanan’ which is a huge hit in the South,” said Sivan.

    Vikram who interestingly received good reviews for his turn as Veeraiyya in ‘Raavanan’, the same character as Abhishek’s in the Hindi version, said that it was the audience who was the ultimate judge of a film and nobody else.

    “I respect Mr Bachchan and I respect Mani sir. It’s not something I can comment about as it’s between Mani Sir and him though..(To the audience) You can hear a hundred things, some say its good, some say its bad. You are the ones who decide,” said Vikram.

    Bachchan who tweeted for a second time during the day accused the media for misinterpreting his statement as an affront to director Mani Ratnam.

    “there has and shall always be respect and dignity for him (Mani Ratnam).. media playing with words. Mani is one of our finest directors .. he should never stop making films (sic),” tweeted the veteran actor.

    The 54-year-old director, who made films like ‘Roja’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Bombay’ and ‘Guru’, which garnered both critical acclaim and box office success, has previously given Abhishek hits like ‘Yuva’ and ‘Guru’.

    LINK

    Like

  29. I linked to this above.

    Like

  30. my hopes of watching raavan today didnt get materialised.

    good to see many people on this forum liking forum. overall though, i havent seen a film with so many mixed reviews.
    though i cannot ignore watching this for now.. will definitely be giving it a hot in the next 2 days

    Like

  31. spinyfang Says:

    New here!!!

    Saw raavan and liked it. It has an interesting revisionist approach to the Ramayan. I will add though that it isnt a crowd pleaser in any manner and the negative reactions are in a way understandable.

    Like

  32. Brilliant piece. Then again I have never met a GF piece that I did not find brilliant.

    Like

  33. Few thoughts on Raavan. I cannot write a detailed, methodical review.. So Im writing what I think of Raavan on a random basis

    Firstly, I must tell that despite Raavan isn’t a consistently good film, I didnt regret watching this. Coz despite its so many undoings which many negative reviews have already discussed, it does have its own set of positives. To start with, its so visually enriching that overall it becomes a beautful film, despite some terrible flaws in the plot. Yes, the cinematographer should start preparing a speech already for the next year’s awards.

    Again, major part of the film is interesting enough to let you keep your eyes on the screen, thanks to the typical Mani Ratnam touch in few scenes, and the way they are shot. The film does provide a good concept and that reflects in the final half an hour, more so after the sequence when its known what Beera’a actual motive was. The climax is again something that derives mixed feelings from within me. I liked the end which Mani gave to the film; but at the same time, I felt he just wasn’t brave enough. Raagini remains on the fringes of expressing her feelings for Beera but the director chose to play little safe. Yes, Beera had to be killed even if he wasn’t the traditional evil character (they had to follow the facts of Ramayana) however it would have been better if Mani was brave enough to deliver whatever he had in mind. Still, I didnt mind it much.

    Which does bring ourselves to the many negatives of the film first and foremost the overall screenplay. Throughout the first half, the film fails to establish any of the subplots convincingly.. too many scenes are thrown in. we get to see the pursuit of the police officer for his wife, Beera’s character study, his surroundings, introduction of Govinda’s character, Raagini’s plight and struggle, all happening at the same time. You get a feeling of confusion there. No time is given to develop its characters; which is why though performances of everyone is good, it could have been still better if they were provided the scope. Even after when the film becomes interesting in the later part of the second half, it again loses focus and result is a consistently dragging film.

    Also, the film does provide all the twists of the Ramayan story however many of them weren’t needed. The character of Govinda was just not required in a film of this tone; except that they were following the Ramayan tale.

    Songs are fine if listened to on a CD and I was expecting they would sound even better after watching the film. But now I am feeling the exact reverse. Beera and Thok de Killi’s placement is fine but Behene De didnt overwhelm despite the wonderful way it was shot.. Blame it on how suddently it comes into the picture. And I simply despised the way Ranjha Ranjha was shown. Seemed that Mani Ratnam had to place the song somehow or the other and he just “shift inserted” it without considering the particular scene it was in.

    Abhishek Bachchan delivers a fine performance overall.. However considering the importance of the role in the film, I felt a much better one would have done proper justice to the complexities of the character. But again he cannot be blamed enough as hardly any time is invested in developing it, despite being the central one. Aishwarya looked stunning and acts fine when she’s not screeching. This is the second time I have watched Vikram in a film (first one was Aparichit where he was fantastic) but the role doesn’t demand any sort of histrionics and I felt Mani could have chosen any less competent actor for the role.. Considering he’s a great actor and very popular in the south, somehow he should have refrained from doing it.. Govinda is okay in the few scenes he’s in.. amongst the supporting cast, I loved Ravi Kishan

    Its a film which certainly falls under the ‘not bad’ category because of its visual delight and some very well shot sequences but considering the combination of the interesting concept and Mani Ratnam’s talent, it could have been so much more, a modern masterpiece.. But the oppurtunity just goes waste with flawed characterizations and a severely flawed screenplay.
    Though I must admit it may work for people who prefer to watch films on DVD.

    my rating – 3/5

    Like

  34. IAMTHAT Says:

    BIG LOSS of Rs 100 cr with ‘Raavan’ and ‘Kites’: IBN

    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/big-loss-of-rs-100-cr-with-raavan-and-kites/124953-8-66.html

    Like

  35. Incidentally the Abhishek image bathed in red was also not in the film..

    Like

  36. HOT, STEAMING SPOILER!

    My final paragraph here asserts something I noticed about Beera in the scene where he sees Ragini jump down the cliff to die by her own hand rather than his. I essentially wrote that the way Beera’s gaze lingers and later he mentally returns to this moment of her being caught and saved by branches almost suggested, to me, that Beera sought meaning in this image, this idea that the landscape had made up its own irrevocable decision about life and death. I maintain that this is one part of why Beera is held back from murdering Ragini but the other part of this that occurred to me (but may have been mentioned elsewhere) is that Ragini actually attempts to kill herself in pretty much exactly the manner that Jamuniya does in the flashback sequence. The key difference here is of course the outcome. One could then supplement my note that Beera doesn’t kill Ragini not only because his world dictates that he not, but that, additionally, the “directive” from that world here is that he has it in his power to change the course of a certain history rather than replay its tragic events…

    Like

    • SPOILER ALERT!!!!

      I did notice that, GF, primarily because Rathnam supplies a visual cue: note the way Ash’s unconscious body is arranged as it falls from the branch into the water — a very similar “pose” to that of Jamuniya’s corpse. [Rathnam also plays a cruel trick by inverting the movement: Ragini — who is saved — is seen falling (but not lifted); Jamuniya — who is not saved — is seen lifted (but not falling). Plus, note the contrast between the open vista where Ragini plunges, with the enclosed well where Jamuniya dies (Ragini is enclosed in a similar kind of circular enclosure, but manages to clamber out of it).] A doubling/inversion reinforced elsewhere, when Ragini is implicitly referred to as fair-skinned (Beera says if she stays a few more days with them, she will become “black like us”), while Ila Arun’s vocals/Gulzar’s traditional wedding song lyrics refer to the bride’s dark color while the camera lingers in a Priyamani close-up. And of course, on the bridge, when Dev asks “Where is Ragini?” Beera yells back “Where is Jamuniya?!”; and finally, both women have a version of “Ranjha Ranjha” picturized on/around them…

      Like

      • Excellent note, and obviously you extend things here to note once again how this director is singularly obsessed with doubling.

        Like

      • I found it interesting also that Beera never calls either Ragini nor Dev by their names. In fact he bestows them with provocative nicknames. For Ragini it’s a kind of wistful joke about what he hopes for her to become – “one of them” i.e., the rooted “Mahuha”. And for Dev, it’s a declaration of what Beera thinks the man to be – a wryly respected “other” in every sense, exemplified by the English acronym “SP”…

        Like

      • Outstanding extension of GF’s note..

        Aren’t you guys ashamed to hunt for all these “hidden meanings” that Rathnam could not have thought of?!

        Like

      • mksrooney Says:

        wow.. q bhai aap pakkey vakil ho.. u read between lines.. u must be good in IOS..

        Like

    • very perceptive note here GF.. I confess this point entirely escaped me..

      Like

    • mksrooney Says:

      marvellous… i want to see the movie again. simply put

      Like

    • Excellent notes here, GF/Qalandar.

      Yes, I realised this too in the aftermath of watching the Hindi version. And this became even more apparent during the second viewing.

      Like

  37. Margaret Ann Says:

    Extremely well written & insightful not only in perspective but in full grasp. Thank you to all.

    Like

  38. I just added screen grabs to this. Always felt wrong not to.

    Unfortunately, the DVD release on this is especially shoddy because one can see from the grabs that there’s combing aplenty. Just poorly deinterlaced which is a shame given whose film this is…

    Like

  39. Didn’t see this bit of news until recently. Sad news:

    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110819/jsp/nation/story_14396595.jsp

    Like

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