Qalandar on RAAVANAN (Tamil; 2010)

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A post-script to my review of Raavan, in light of last night’s trip to New Jersey to watch Raavanan (the Tamil half of this bi-lingual):

The dialogues in the Tamil version are the biggest surprise — and offer the most intriguing glimpse into director Mani Rathnam’s vision. Several dialogues offering glimpses of the “backstory” are absent in the Hindi version, ranging from details (Veeraiya’s brother Singarasan (Prabhu) suggesting that since Ragini’s 14-hour absence has driven husband Dev (Prithviraj) to distraction, a 14-day absence might be even better; Hemanth’s punishment seems more clearly spelled out in the Tamil version, replete with a eunuch who appears when Ragini (Aishwariya Rai) tries to free him (in Hindi the analogous figure is Veera’s brother Mangal; and when Veeraiya (Vikram) says his jealousy of Ragini’s husband makes him feel all-powerful, the Tamil version makes clear this is so because this is the one emotion her husband does not feel (he is wrong)); to political subtext (“Are your girls flowers, and ours gravel?”, one song asks, foreshadowing the trauma at the core of Veeraiya’s revenge; although, all references to “Delhi” are absent from the Tamil lyrics); to characterization (Ragini knows her husband is an “encounter specialist”, underscoring her own complicity). The cumulative effect is of a more explained, and hence more explicable, darkness, a world that — despite the geographic displacements of locale — seems more at home in the history of Tamil cinema than in the world of myth where the Hindi Raavan takes place. The Tamil version is, in short, a shade more worldly, more political than the Hindi film; the latter is a shade more mysterious, with meaning vouchsafed more by glimpses than piquant dialogue.

Two differences redound entirely to the Tamil version’s advantage however: almost from the very outset, the dialog has a sexual subtext, underscoring the real core of Dev’s anxiety at his wife’s abduction. “Not all women,” Gnanapraksh (Kartik, the “Hanuman” of this film) uneasily says when a villager tells Dev that women love Veeraiya. The Hindi Dev tortures Veera’s brother-in-law because he’s a brutal, violent character; the Tamil Dev does so because he thinks Veeraiya is sending him a message by tying up the young man in Ragini’s clothes (in both versions, the man infiltrates Veera’s/Veeraiya’s sister’s house dressed in drag). By cutting off this man’s arm, the Raavan of this epic signals that he can unman Ram. The difference is one of nuance rather than kind, but manifests a fraught, carnal, current that is perhaps too obscure in the Hindi version.

Second, there are Vairamuthu’s lyrics. Even filtered through sub-titles, the master’s simple, powerful words are better suited to the action on-screen. For insance, when Ragini first picks up a weapon to try and kill her abductor, instead of the wonderful but somewhat incongrous “Ranjha Ranjha” lyrics (with their provenance in the work of the Sufi master Bulleh Shah) testifying to a Heer who has so subsumed her identity in her lover Ranjha that she can only go by his name, the Tamil version of the song asks whether she now belongs to the forest, or is fated to vanish like an illusion or even dream (“maya”). Rahman’s haunting vocals at film’s end croon not about the loss of passage, but about a loss that is also a promise to return.

The above notwithstanding, the two versions are so close the difference is most manifest in the cast, anchored around the female constants of Aishwariya Rai’s Ragini and Priyamani’s Jamuniya (Hindi)/Vennila (Tamil). Among the supporting cast, Karthik’s Hanuman is markedly better than Govinda’s in wit, timing, and humor — but looks a bit too well for a man stuck for the last 28 years in a dead-end job as forest officer, and liberal with the booze to boot. As the bandit’s brother, Prabhu isn’t bad, but his physicality betrays the role: he is, to put it bluntly, more Jell-O than brigand, his wobbles speaking a language all their own. Prithviraj’s Dev does not offer the foil to “Raavan” that Vikram did in the Hindi version, although there is something to be said for his restless creepiness. It’s just as well the Tamil film (unlike the Hindi version)announces that his marriage to Ragini was arranged — it’s hard to imagine her choosing him in the first instance (an intuition that might add to Dev’s anxiety).

Ultimately, of course, the film rises or falls with the man at the eye of the storm. On this terrain, playing this sort of character, it is perhaps impossible for Vikram to disappoint. He nevertheless manages to surprise by incarnating a tortured soul who seems at once driven and world-weary. Abhishek Bachchan’s Veera was stranger, as is more appropriate for the stuff of myth; but Vikram’s older Veeraiya has seen more, has endured more. And for me was more convincing in love; or rather, Veeraiya’s love is an affliction; Veera’s is a sentiment. With respect to their physicalitly, Rathnam plays with both actors with great precision: In the Hindi version, Abhishek’s greater height, framed against the cliffs and drops, is highlighted to great effect (Vikram does not have the same advantage, most noticeably when he is framed against the sun in the abduction scene; in his first encounter with Ragini atop a cliff; and when he turns towards her at the end). On the other hand, Vikram’s greater brawn, his sheer breadth, means Rathnam has him crouch quite a bit more his Hindi counterpart. Veeraiya is literally closer to the earth than Veera is, one might even say his distinguishing element is earth as opposed to sky (fire and water are common to both). More crucially, Vikram’s frame renders him the more immediate presence in the character’s close-ups with Ragini, and whatever one’s preference, he is undeniably the more carnal presence. One can almost smell the sweat.

While the Tamil version, and its central performance, are etched a shade more vividly in my viewing experience, choosing between these gems is not a dilemma one needs to face: both films make for essential viewings, and represent different refractions of Rathnam’s vision. Commercial Hindi/Tamil cinema does not get much better.

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122 Responses to “Qalandar on RAAVANAN (Tamil; 2010)”

  1. I’ve read Suhasini has written tamil dialogues.

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    • Why_so_serious Says:

      And was harshly criticized. Brangan feels it’s not as bad as it is made out to be. I’m sure it counts for something here..

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  2. Why_so_serious Says:

    Qalandar,
    On charges of me being ‘snide’ or ‘uncivil’, I don’t think that’s true. Just because I sense a common agenda in the pattern of views/reading expressed here. In fact, I take back those ‘periodic’ disclaimers, I’m not “sorry” coz the intention wasn’t to be rude per se. I said that to pitch down the charge as the tone still exudes a ‘proprietorial’ discharge that doesn’t help one to be read, let alone get friends.

    I don’t recollect the rhetorical questions that you’re referring to. I’m not the one to make polite references like ‘eunuch jester’. I’m a bit judgmental, but never as quick as labeling a random commenter to ‘lack taste’, or accused of being ‘SRK Partisan’! I was charged as a Nativist-chauvinist. That’s a convenient charge to place depending on source of opinion. But I’ll say this: Only if one lived through ground realities of the milieu and with knowledge of a specific film tradition, the perception is better. A richly informed serious opinion could be formed. Unfortunately, Art shouldn’t be confused with democracy. And I say that with no self-righteousness.

    Abhishek preferred over Vikram on basis of offering a more mythical character, even on ‘subjective’ grounds, is a very radical opinion to hold. Such was the epic failure of his acting. As a matter of fact, I’m also in a fascist agreement (As Art should be) with Raj on Yuva/AE performance appraisal in the other thread. But at least I’ll grant there’s something in there to be argued for Abhishek.

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    • Re: “Only if one lived through ground realities of the milieu and with knowledge of a specific film tradition, the perception is better.”

      Um, doesn’t this compromise your own appreciation of Abhishek Bachchan’s performances? or are you as familiar with the Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani register as with the Tamil one?

      [BTW, I don’t disagree with the statement. I agree with it, that’s why I am less “categorical” when I write on Tamil; not everyone I have read recently seems to share the same reticence.]

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      • Why_so_serious Says:

        It does compromise a bit that I haven’t been “as” familiar as some of the Southern registers. But then I’m never remotely as ‘categorical’ as some here are towards regional cinema…

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    • There are two problems here that you seem to be unaware of:

      1)No matter how strongly you hold that view it is still opinion. You assert it like dogma.

      2)Being closer to the milieu can also introduce distortion as one can ‘relate’ to certain things and convert this into ‘critical appreciation’.

      Generally speaking though I must confess I have less patience for these assertions of authenticity. Not because someone closer to the contexts cannot get more of a work it is not clear to me that this translates into a better overall understanding of what the work is about. Some of the best critics of American cinema historically were French ones who often had very little understanding of the original language.

      Note how my point is proven in this very post. The non-Tamil speaker is focusing on the strengths of the dialog and lyric far more than any ‘native’ reviewer has if at all!

      Also the correlation in your case and Raj’s between those who clearly cannot quite stand Abhishek and much prefer Vikram would seem to be rather strong. Shouldn’t this give a ‘critical mind’ some pause?!

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      • This is again distortion. It is not that people cannot stand Abhishek. What people are trying to point out that trying to assert that he is this icoic, super-actor, superstar is funny and ridiculuos.
        Secondly, dont try to paint this as a regional war – like, branding Abhishek critics as tamil nationalists or something like that. Can you not face criticism straight instead of painting the other side into certain bozes

        On the whole, it seems to me that it has taken a few days for you guys to come out with a coherent explanation for Abhishek’s performance – which means you have thought hard how to justify it. Which is a fanboy behaviour. Nothing wrong with it. It is a blog, afterall, and you are running it.

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    • “I was charged as a Nativist-chauvinist.”

      I brought up that charge I guess and I don’t shrink away from it. again rudeness wasn’t implied but I do detect in your writings (and from the very beginning) a ‘valorization’ of the ‘Tamil’ and furthermore that of a certain history. There’s nothing wrong with this per se but you then offer it as a ‘truth’ which should be obvious to one and all and if it isn’t so it’s only because they’re not Tamilians or (to wit) they haven’t seen enough Sivaji films (to use a common thread in your responses)!

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    • also, in my view, the most radical position is to stay absolutely certain about one’s judgments irrespective of how well fleshed-out the argument is on the other side. Some of us here offered long pieces on why we liked Raavan (Raavanan) or the performances and so forth. One can disagree. But the insinuation that one has simply written these pieces to buttress an opinion one ‘wants’ to hold is problematic specially when I would like to think we’ve made a case. Again on Vikram/Abhishek GF gets into it at length in his piece as does Qalandar, I responded equally in GF’s thread on the same topic.. you can disagree but there IS an argument being made.

      I worship Kurosawa, my favorite contemporary critic on the other hand has not a very high opinion of this filmmaker at all. But I have not stopped reading him or learning from him on this score. I don’t think it’s ultimately about who’s right or wrong but about whether the discussion enriches one’s understanding of the film and consequently the medium. As I said earlier I don’t find it odd at all if someone prefers Vikram. But this cannot simply be an expression of ‘anti-Abhishek’ attitudes or Tamil nationalism! It has to be a sincerely held view.

      Not saying you’ve displayed all of these attitudes. But you’re certainly utterly unwilling to change an idea or opinion once you accept it. Isn’t this really what’s most radical?

      People abuse or ridicule me all the time for being ‘obsessed’ with Abhishek. I continue to make the case for him and voluminously so. But I don’t consider anyone who doesn’t like him an idiot. provided again the view is sincerely held and there are some standards. The comparable example is that if one is entertained by Akshay and a monkey slapping each other in HF and not with Raavan the problem might lie with oneself! Sure a majority is one the side of the former. So what?! That only reflects the overall degradation of a film culture. No one in a western context would ever make fun of a Scorsese no matter how much they preferred watching Adam Sandler. Because there is a critical culture in place that renders this kind of response meaningless. Not so in India. Don’t tell me there’s subtlety and meaning in JA and Swades and Veer and what not but not in Rathnam!

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      • You dont seem to understand.Housefull is not as good as raavan is just your pesonal opinion.
        If it is based on intellectuals and critics,then almost all intellectuals and critics are bashing raavan and Abhishek’s acting exept you.You have to accept that.

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        • actually I think that to frame it the way you have is also a cynical position or certainly an ideological one. You could replace Raavan with ‘Satyajit Ray’ in that sentence and everything else could stand! So first off I am rejecting the ‘intellectual’ label here. Because one could praise any art form and one could be hit with that very same label. To analyze Ravi Shankar you need to know something about raags! And of course lots of other areas of music. If the argument is that most people prefer Pritam that’s true but meaningless.

          As for whether most ‘intellectuals’ are rejecting it or not I don’t know about you but I have spent a very long time lambasting Bombay’s film media on all kinds of things including the lack of serious critical judgment. I don’t quite see the cineastes here! Of those reviewers who have been willing to explain their positions as opposed to relying in generalities there have been many positive ones. With 22 reviews in I see a 52% rating at allbollywood. I wouldn’t even go that far. The truly positive ones are probably 30-40%. But just on that site you can see 11 out of 22 reviews that give the film a 3-4 star rating. So it’s hardly everyone hating it. Now whether positive or negative I have never set store by most of those reviewers but I am just stating facts here.

          But getting back to the HF/Raavan point I know it is factually true that most people prefer HF to Raavan. The gross of each film indicates this. No one’s arguing against this. BUT if we went by majority rules Bruckheimer might turn out to be ‘better’ than Scorsese! We don’t ask how many books Mahasweta Devi sells. We judge these books one way or the other, we accept them as serious and we then hope there will be enough of a readership for them to keep her enterprise viable. We don’t start comparing her sales with those of the latest Shobha De book!

          But even if a serious work like Rathnam’s were to be judged negatively by critics who are educated in the medium (and not everyone who writes a review) that would still not put his film on the same footing as 99% of Bollywood! Much as the poorest Scorsese work even when panned by critics hardly becomes comparable to a Jolie action film!

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          • Be Warned Satyam, you are talking to a dude who thinks and argues Tashan is critically acclaimed.

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          • I actually liked some aspects of Tashan quite a bit.. Qalandar I think had an interesting piece on it.. the film didn’t really work for me because it wasn’t engaging enough as a narrative but I did like some of the irreverence on display here and certainly do understand other perspectives on it.

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          • For housefull,all sorts of negative reviews have been picked from juvelile bloggers to give it a bad rating.But for Raavan only those reviews which are postive are picked.
            If all reviews are taken it is not possible to get more than 35%.
            But again on what basics reviews are picked on allbollywood.com?There has to be conistency.Pick the critics you want and put up only those review ratings.And it has to be the same for all films.I heard jay shah actually picks the reviews for films?Is is true?

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          • actually I reduced the allbollywood rating which was 52% on the strength of 22 reviews or so! It was 53% when there were a few on the site. Normally these numbers stay quite stable. I brought it down to 30-40% based on my own estimation. What about this do you not follow?

            On the rest about Jay not sure where you got that idea but here’s the thing… if you want to draw all kinds of rumor and innuendo from the slums of the blogosphere feel free to do so but I shall not dignify it with a response beyond the contempt I have just displayed for it..

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          • jayshah Says:

            Sunil you should change the crowd you hang around with … it obviously lends itself to you drawing all kinds of ridiculous conclusions.

            It is true I wrote several box office reports for allbollywood.com last year but I stopped writing columns once Taran stopped posting centre wise collections. I don’t have any other link with allbollywood.com beyond that. Now go and tell that to your sources and bring back more ridiculous drivel!

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      • You know, the people entertained by Housefull are the spiritual descendants of fans of Bachchan’s 80’s potboilers.

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    • leaving all these objections aside I am in one sense happy.. I’d rather have someone assert the superiority of the Tamil classics and Sivaji and so on than not.. because otherwise it’s just about ‘SRK is the best’, ‘Aamir is the best’, ‘Abhishek is the best’ and so on! I am as guilty as anyone else.

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  3. Superb piece in every sense..

    “And for me was more convincing in love; or rather, Veeraiya’s love is an affliction; Veera’s is a sentiment.”

    this is a great point.. I think Beera’s love is strange even to himself..

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  4. On a related note I should say that I also read theskeptic’s impressions on Raavan a few days ago and I found them deeply disappointing coming from someone who understands the medium because these weren’t minimally ‘legible’ even on his/her own terms.

    The RGV ghost always haunts any such discourse with theskeptic.. the name of the latter’s anxiety is ‘Rathnam’..

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    • and it’s not enough to say one responds more to a certain kind of filmmaking.. that is undoubtedly true for any of us.. I respond to Kurosawa the way I do not respond to Ozu.. but I cannot use the former to detract from the latter..

      The larger point here is that one cannot be ‘critical’ and completely ‘subjective’ in turn.. hence Rathnam is either problematic but even if he isn’t ‘I respond’ to something else more. There’s an obvious problem here. One cannot decide to be critic one day and impressionistic viewer the next. What stops for example a Swades fan from saying that RGV in Satya might be better but he/she just responds to the former more? What stops an MNIK fan from asserting something similar? If it is that minimal ‘critical differential’ that aids certain kinds of filmmakers more than others because of the richness of their texts then this should not be deserted in other contexts. How is it possible to admire even the visuals of Aag but not really those of Raavan?! It would be a bit like admiring Fellini’s Orchestra Rehearsal but not Antonioni’s The Passenger!

      Yes by all means one has the right to champion one’s favorite director.. but that’s not the argument here.. I have nothing against the first critic who gets up and says John Ford should be taken far more seriously than he has.. I would however have issues if the same was unable to appreciate Tarkovsky for this reason. There are many ‘great’ filmmakers I have little personal taste for. But I ‘see’ what the argument for them is. I certainly wouldn’t treat these filmmakers with a different yardstick.

      And again Raavan is not ‘any’ Rathnam film for someone more interested in visuals, even by this director’s lofty standards. And I think the standard ‘aesthetic’ aspects here are the least impressive, at least for the arguments some of us are making. In other words I certainly have not been admiring of the film because it’s ‘beautiful’ to look at. And if one has always been interested in how shots are set up, the care that goes into each when it’s a serious director at hand, so on and so forth, how did one fail to perceive these strengths in Raavan? One wouldn’t know where to stop if one did a scene by scene analysis of the film this way. And unlike RGV (who I otherwise admire for many of his works) I don’t see a dissonance here between an impressive visual grammar and the overall thematic concerns of the film (as there can be in RGV).

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  5. Ha, good one from Abhishek!

    [Some immortal words from ROCKY- in the ring it doesn’t matter how hard ya hit, what matters is how hard ya can get hit and still carry on!!!]

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  6. This is a marvelous write up in every sense. Loved the bit on Prabhu being more Jell O! He did bring upon a bit of lightness through his heaviness. I enjoyed the part where they all posed for that group snap, recall the shove Prabhu gives Raagini to look up at the photographer. All of them looked so risible, maybe thats what irked Dev more and he burnt all those faces with the stubb!

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    • that moment incidentally offers a nice visual cue and link for what is then described in the flashback with respect to the gang-rape ‘narrative’.. Vennila talks about how she kept her eyes closed.. the men were then literally ‘blanks’.. and in that early moment you’ve been referring to Dev starts burning through the faces of Veera and his gang one by one, snuffing them out, reducing them to blanks as well or bodies without heads.. so these blanks then surround Aishwarya on that printed page.. and of course this anxiety haunts Dev, as it must, at different points.

      Not the least of the film’s potent points is that eventually we realize (and there are clues throughout) that Dev’s obsession really revolves around Veera and he too is willing to make his wife every bit the pawn in this ‘alpha male’ struggle that Veera is. Even when he finally gets his wife he is ‘disappointed’ because he hasn’t found veera. And there is irony at the end because he can get to his ‘enemy’ or destroy him only because of the ‘woman’ and also on Veera’s side the same applies as he starts out trying to destroy Dev with the very woman who ends up destroying him. But of course Veera dies with a certain knowledge (the Hindi dialog is I think better here) and one can easily imagine Dev being haunted for the rest of his life. Again the visual cue. Veera’s blood splatters over Ragini before he falls off the cliff. The symbolic ‘marriage’ if you will (but also a strange one.. she is already married!) but his ‘mark’ is in any case on her.

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      • Come to think of it that cigarette shot gets back to the idea of the state rendering people/issues “faceless” that I made in my earlier piece…

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      • In fact this isn’t the first time Ratnam’s brought up the issue of a “face/facelessness” with regard to political entanglements. Note the scene in Kannathil Muthamittal when Amudha befriends the man in the park who turns out to be a terrorist. We see the man reading a book when Amudha first establishes contact with him. We then cut away to the parents searching for Amudha. When we return to the site of the park, Amudha is now sitting next to the stranger and reading from his book. It’s clearly a politically charged text she’s reading from, and the line she reads is “They had forgotten that they had faces…”

        One can assume from what happens right after this scene (the man turns out to be a suicide bomber) that this literature is in some way a “reminder” – a prayer book of sorts – to help this man recall what is motivating his later action. This hatred for facelessness, this assertion of identity.

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        • fantastic comment.. I don’t remember that scene as precisely as you do in terms of the details you’ve cited but this only means I will be revisiting it soon!

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        • on another note in that first scene when we see Ash on that boat she very much resembles a type of classic film actress with those sunglasses and the posture. The camera of course swoops in on her birdlike.. it is almost as if she is a diva on a film shoot but then reality intrudes in the form of this specter on the other boat..

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      • And it was appropriate for Ragini to be in white at the end, a sign of chasitity and then the blood actually besmirched her through this “marriage”. She was also in a way responsible for Veera’s death by unknowingly leading Dev to Veera. The visual cues were fantastic and so was the play with colors. Ragini was in orange ( renunciation at the start ), black ( seductive duel with Veera on the cliff ), red ( at the time of celebrations in the camp)and white ( at the end ).

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  7. Satyam – Thanks for sharing that Q is not a tamil speaker. He has superbly made me understand the dialogues better, I need to take classes from Q.

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    • he’s stated as much many times in the past..

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      • That is correct Sharmila, I do not speak Tamil at all. On the other hand, Tamil is not as “foreign” to me as (e.g.) Assamese is because I have a family connection to Chennai (although not to the Tamil language), which is reflected more in gestures, intonations, and stray words that show up here there (but none of this rises to the level of linguistic proficiency; I would only claim a slight/relative cultural familiarity that I cannot claim where (e.g.) Kannada culture is concerned)…

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  8. Excellent piece here Q.

    Here’s a typically clear-headed review from Balaji on Raavanan:

    http://www.bbthots.com/?p=1240

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    • put up your recent piece and Qalandar’s here as well as on the Hindi review. The earlier ones I had already done! Same goes for Bachchan’s blog.

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  9. Thanks Q.
    It is fascinating to see how uncomfortable Abhishek makes some and brings out the worst in them. And makes them expend so much energy to minimize/marginallize his achievements. They may or may not have poor taste but they certainly have a miserable existence. And Abhishek is the bane of their misery.

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  10. I don’t even think Sajid Khan would defend his own movie so vigilantly.

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  11. Thank you all for reading, and for your kind wishes…

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  12. Qalandar, you say the Tamil dialogs were more expository; other reviews on other forums have said they were better, in terms of capturing the character’s dialect, origin, etc. At least one of these commenters speaks both Hindi and Tamil, so there was no reliance on subtitles. At the same time, many reviewers have commented on the flatness of the Hindi dialogs. Now my question is, do you think this is a reflection of Mani’s greater facility with Tamil as opposed to Hindi? The writing on Indian films is broken up into so many components, with so many people being credited for bits and pieces of it, that it may be hard to judge the director’s contribution, but I would think s/he would still be in overall control of the effect achieved through the dialogs. What is your opinion on this?

    BTW, even the person who thought the Tamil dialogs were better than the Hindi ones, still felt they were far below the standard of previous MR films, when the writer was the late Sujatha.

    Also, were the dialogs the only difference? That is, since both versions were shot simultaneously, was it otherwise a frame by frame replica of the Hindi version?

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    • SPOILER WARNING!!!

      The Hindi dialogs were entirely credited to Vijay Acharya (who wrote Guru’s dialogs as well; I think the same guy wrote and directed Tashan). I actually think that the “omissions” in Hindi were so many and so uniform, that it struck me as a deliberate move on Rathnam’s part to create a more laconic, even mysterious film. Undoubtedly it is more disorienting, the viewer seems thrown in without explanation: for instance, regarding Veera’s sister’s fate: in Hindi this comes as a surprise; in Tamil this is clued almost from the start. So I guess I don’t agree that the Tamil dialogs were necessarily “better” — I am saying they are more expository, but I don’t see them as “better”, just more expository. And leading to a film with a slightly different feel. [Aside: that is also what I believe GF and satyam are getting at when they refer to the Hindi version being more “auteurist”]. But, I do think I got the sense that Karthik’s dialogues > Govinda’s dialogues; and I would agree that the Tamil dialogues on Veeraiya’s jealousy were > Acharya’s dialogues in the same scene.

      On the song lyrics, I AM saying that I generally found the tamil lyrics better (in particular, in the Tamil analogues to the Behne De and Ja Udh Jaa songs; the Ranjha lyrics were superb, but the Tamil analogue’s lyrics were more appropriate to the action on screen), and this despite the fact that I don’t know Tamil. Vairamuthu is amazing.

      Re: “Also, were the dialogs the only difference? That is, since both versions were shot simultaneously, was it otherwise a frame by frame replica of the Hindi version?”

      For the most part yes (or, one might say the Hindi film was otherwise a frame-by-frame replica of the Tamil version). But there were a few exceptions: I can think of a spectacular Aishwariya Rai shot (lasting a couple of seconds or so) on broken stones/ground; a split-second shot of Vikram in a bus; I am also 90% sure that the sequence of Vikram and Ash climbing up the waterfall was a shade longer/had an extra shot or two, as was true of the two walking in the forest during the same song (Tamil analogue to Behne De). Separately, a few shots were “inverted” (as was true in Aayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva as well). For instance, when Veeraiya discovers her sister’s lover in the house on the roof, he is to the left of Priyamani in the scene when he goes toward him in the tamil film (he was to the right in Hindi); when Veeraiya throws a burning brand at Dev, the flaming wood passes Dev on his left side in Hindi, and on the right in Tamil. There were a couple more such shots, and I don’t know why. I also made the point about the eunuchs/trans-gender character in my piece above — serving as guardians of the imprisoned Ragini when she tries to rescue Hemanth (and in one other scene); in Hindi, although there is a trans-gender character, (s)he is not there in these scnes. Finally, Abhishek and Vikram have different stances in a number of scenes (Vikram, speaking very very generally here, tends to crouch a bit more, most noticeably in the scene when he sets fire to the bridge). Also, there are a few more close-ups early on in the bridge sequence in Tamil (not close ups per se, but the camera is closer in than in Hindi), presumably because Prithviraj might seem puny relative to Vikram otherwise…

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  13. “Satyam, Anupam, Phyliss, Qalander take a bow. I shall be putting across your thoughts by the morrow ! Exquisite as they are in its content I personally feel, they have the capacity to become great educators of cinema. Seldom do we, in todays rapid fire times get opportunity to sit and assess and document that which needs to carry documentation ; a kind of a librarian effect. But so be it ! These pieces shall see the light of day to prove we were dwarfed by their presence. Well done all !!”

    This is a highest appreciation from AB and rightly deserving one. Surely it gives me joy and would have given more if one name was not missing. Yes, GF should be leading that list.

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  14. Rangan on the Raavanan

    Just returned from the Tamil version and I must say I preferred the Hindi version. Yes, Vikram is far easier to take than AB — even though he’s asked to do the same bak-bak stuff (and that doesn’t work at all, even in this version), where he scores 100% is in his physicality. He looks like a man of the forest. He looks like he belongs there. So the casting “looks” right here, even if towards the end, he’s more neutered than AB was — Raavanan as lovesick puppy dog. (Because Vikram plays the character more sympathetically.) You what I kept think when cringing at Vikram’s OTT moments? “If only Kamal in his Guna days had played this…” 🙂

    But despite the more convincing lead, I found the ellipses in Hindi more fascinating. See, if you begin to explain and link the dots, as in Tamil, it comes off as half done — as if someone found that entire chapters of a book were missing and tried to set things right by adding a sentence here and there. The weirdness of the incomplete book (about which we know in our heads anyway) is what makes the Hindi version so interesting.

    If the Tamil version had been a half-hour longer and had had scenes that took the story/characters deeper, I wouldn’t have minded because that would have been a genuinely different movie. This comes off like someone making an intentionally abstract Hindi film and just filling out a character here and there through expository dialogue because “Tamil audiences are too dumb.”

    The Hindi lyrics are better, situation-wise. Govinda was better than Karthik. Nikhil Dwivedi was better than John Vijay because he looked so upright/innocent, and so his heinousness came as a slap in the face. John Vijay looked like a leering lech anyway. And Prithviraj had this strange smile throughout, like a villain who knows he has the advantage. I liked Prabhu though. Ravi Kishan brought a blithe mischievousness to the role, but Prabhu brought gravity.

    One thing about this film that amazes me is the hysterical overreaction to everything from AB’s performance to Suhasini’s dialogues. The latter is nowhere as bad as they were made out to be, though people kept slipping in and out of dialect, and that was very odd to keep listening to. One laugh-out-loud moment for me was when Prabhu hands over a plate of food to Aishwarya and turns away singing Kalyana samayal saadham from Mayabazaar. This was probably unintentional, but imagine… a food-loving character from the Ramayana referencing a food-loving character from the Mahabharata. Talk about intertextuality

    Like

  15. Re: “But despite the more convincing lead, I found the ellipses in Hindi more fascinating. See, if you begin to explain and link the dots, as in Tamil, it comes off as half done — as if someone found that entire chapters of a book were missing and tried to set things right by adding a sentence here and there. The weirdness of the incomplete book (about which we know in our heads anyway) is what makes the Hindi version so interesting.”

    Yes, I’m on board here, although I am kinder on the resulting shift in the Tamil version than Baradwaj is.

    Disagree on the lyrics, though I wonder if some “outsider” exoticization is at work here: i.e. the Tamil-native prefers the Hindi lyrics, and the Hindi/Urdu-speaking native prefers the Tamil lyrics! 🙂

    Like

  16. Q bhai, way to go.
    You are in Amitiji’s radar now.

    Yes I saiad earlier, Satyam, GF and yourself should bring out a book on your movie reviews..
    Keep it going.

    Take a bow ( Amitji as told us 🙂 )
    BTW, was GF’s review read by Amitji. I don’t think so, if so it cannot be missed for sure.

    Like

  17. It is indeed a matter of great pride and richly deserved.
    Shame, AB missed GF, inadvertently.
    You guys are in the ‘Reviewers- Hall of Fame’.
    I think it is telling that people who have liked the movie seem to have such a beautiful and effective way of expressing themselves and are such exceptionally gifted writers and those dissing the film are mired in a mess of egregious misspellings, atrocious grammar, poor syntax and intellectual bankruptcy.

    Like

  18. Those are all very sweet comments guys. The important thing is of course that Bachchan has spotted some of the film’s more eloquent champions. I’m happy they fell on his radar.

    Like

  19. I couldn’t resist to put following on AB’s blog..

    “One name is missing from from that list and that is GF (Satyam’s friend). I don’t know whether that was oversight but I strongly suggest to read or reread his review and put that also on Twitter. By the way him and Qualander both have reviewed Tamil Raavanan also in very exemplary and compassionate way.”

    Like

  20. mksrooney Says:

    sorry guys.. missed ur moment of glory, CONGRATULATIONS… (a bit sick.. on bed rest.)

    Like

  21. satyam and qalandar congrats guys ,you all so deserve this acknowlegement from the great one, can i add that i loved gf’s piece more

    Like

    • IAMTHAT Says:

      Congrats and Well Done Q bhai, Satyam and GF and others( if i m missing)… A gaze and Appreciation for Mr B is moment of Glory… No doubt, He is Institution in himself….. Enjoy but not let it go to …..

      Like

  22. SilentSpectator Says:

    Sad to see accusations of Tamil nationalists to say bachchan isnt good…I will put up evidence of non-Tamil blogger here…so i presume baradwaj rangan doesnt qualify…i think this blogger is also intellectual enuf based on his other reviews..

    http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/2010/06/he-coulda-been-bad-ass-on-raavan-s.html#comments

    Regards

    Like

    • LOL.
      Silent Spectator, jai arjun is a Abhishek hater. Punjabi nationalist. Whatever.
      And greatbong is a Mithunda fan so he is out to defame Amitabh’s son.
      You know, Abhishek is this super star super actor everyone is out to defame.

      Like

      • This is slander. No one has said that Raavan is being criticized out of Tamil nationalism — satyam’s comment was in fact a response to an entire discussion in which it was suggested that all discussions of Tamil star-actors on this blog had an agenda to exalt Amitabh at the expense of others, including Tamil star-actors; and also (IMO) a dismissal of non-Tamilians commenting on Tamil films/star-actors. And, finally, the idea that how “culturally authentic” a Tamil film was, was/was not a relevant criterion. To turn the point on its head is mischievous. [I might add, the person ACTUALLY involved in these discussions, Why So Serious, has never as far as I know suggested he was being disagreed with/criticized because he was a Tamil nationalist! And, quite frankly (apologies to satyam if I am off-base), from some of Satyam’s comments on the Sri Lankan conflict, as well as his viewing of so many Tamil films from all eras, I to be honest assumed that he himself had some Tamil connection!]

        Like

        • that charge is so silly Qalandar that I did not bother responding to it. For one I addressed someone specific here with that charge. All my comments should have made this clear. But I refuse to be defensive about it and explain things to those who will not or cannot ‘read’. I generally extend this courtesy to someone who I think hasn’t been around and therefore hasn’t followed some of the stuff. But not otherwise. The other thing is I am never cowed down by this kind of ‘anti-some identity’ charge. From the accusation of being anti-Muslim to that of anti-Tamilian I’ve faced very many of these responses. I might have had a different view of all this were I in politics where the lie can substitute for truth rather quickly. I don’t see any reason to be so careful on a blog. If people think I have a problem with certain identities and so on they are free to ‘protest’ and not visit again.

          Like

  23. IAMTHAT Says:

    Congrats and Well Done Q bhai, Satyam and GF and others( if i m missing)… A gaze and Appreciation for Mr B is moment of Glory… No doubt, He is Institution in himself….. Enjoy but not let it go to …..

    Like

    • Thanks for posting this, ted. Prasad is a fantastic editor and he’s come in for unfair amounts of unthinking criticism (I’m not speaking simply about Bachchan of course) for his contribution here, which I fully appreciated.

      This is particularly revealing and definitely speaks to my own experience of the narrative, while also confirming that the Hindi version is in some way “truer” to Ratnam’s intents:

      “There is a reason for it. The director chose to start the narrative on a very high note. It begins with the kidnapping and moves straight ahead to the finale. We had no back projection, no explanations, and no character establishment. We chose to tell our story in this way. We didn’t want to spoon-feed the audience.”

      Like

  24. Where does he specifically talk about Hindi version being truer to Mani’s intent. This is called putting words in mouths
    Ok, someone commented about being rude and saying sorry I was rude.
    Isnt that what Bachchan did “Editing was bad”. Then “But he is one of the best editors. I didnt mean to hurt him”.

    Man, some serious pwnage Ravan has done on the bachchan family. Poor things – they actually had some good press with Paa. And it gave Abhishek some credibility – that is the sort of bland role he is fit for. By overreaching himself, Abhi has lost that credibility now.

    Like

    • Actually you’re putting words in my mouth.

      I didn’t say that Prasad specifically says the Hindi version was truer.

      It’s ME who is inferring that based on what Prasad says about the filmmakers purposely intending to make a film where there was “…no back projection, no explanations, and no character establishment. ” Now if you read what we discussed on the blog yesterday (and what Baradwaj Rangan also says) about the Tamil version, the real difference is that the Tamil version actually fills in some of the blanks by using exposition in its dialogue, explaining things away. The Hindi version doesn’t do this, and if Prasad is saying that the director “chose” to make a film that doesn’t explain everything to its audience, then one can safely assume that the Hindi version, in this sense, is truer to that vision.

      Hope that helps clarify things for you.

      Like

    • Why_so_serious Says:

      Mani trusts his collaborators more in Hindi as he isn’t well versed in the language and exercises more ‘control’ in Tamil. He said so himself.

      Like

      • Exercising more control over language doesn’t necessarily account for structural choices in the post-production process.

        Like

        • Why_so_serious Says:

          I’m specifically referring to shooting the actors.

          Like

          • Ah. Then I guess I simply found your comment misplaced given we’re discussing post and structure, not language or performance.

            Like

          • Why_so_serious Says:

            But I posted it re. “Where does he specifically talk about Hindi version being truer to Mani’s intent.”
            I think Mani saying his control is better in Tamil counts for something, esp. ‘intent’.

            “Mr Bachchan wanted us to graphically show ten heads.”
            Is this for real?

            Like

          • I think some of the things many of us say here (including GF’s comment on the Hindi being perhaps truer to Rathnam’s vision) are of the nature of a surmise. An educated one for sure but it is not something hard and fast that must be contested in legalistic fashion.

            On the ten heads by the way there ‘was’ such a visual cue in the film but Rathnam edited it later. Bachchan’s referring to this and the desirability of retaining it (the Hindi song also refers to this).

            Like

          • Why_so_serious Says:

            How could Sr. intrude into such matters in the first place?

            “We’d rather keep silent on this because we don’t want to say anything hurtful about him.”
            Why “hurtful”? One senses some kind of altercation had happened..

            Like

          • There has been no altercation. They just don’t want to respond in public because of the spin the media gives these things. But also because their ‘rebuttals’ might be construed as hurtful by Bachchan.

            Like

          • WSS I’m either not being clear or you’re missing the point. Even if he felt more liberated and had more control over the Tamil production, the resulting film doesn’t to me, necessarily feel as true to the fragmented, elliptical (as I see it) vision that, in my experience, is the basis of Ratnam’s intent with this film.

            Obviously, ultimately, none of us can speak with total authority on Ratnam’s intent but we can take a stab at it.

            Like

  25. Time Magazine on Raavan and how it was received by critics

    http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1999246-2,00.html

    Like

  26. Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010
    Raavan: Scandal over a Bollywood King Kong
    By Richard Corliss

    For the lovers of Indian films at home and around the world — and they number in the hundreds of millions — the coming of Raavan held the promise of celebration: Holi and Diwali in one blast of musical drama. Its creator, Mani Ratnam, is the subcontinent’s premier writer-director (his 1987 Nayakan made TIME’s list of the 100 all-time best movies), though he usually works in his home town of Madras, and in the Tamil language, not in Hindi Mumbai, aka Bollywood. The movie’s stars, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, are Indian cinema’s golden couple: he the son of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, she the former Miss World (and TIME Asia covergirl) who made her film debut in Ratnam’s 1997 Iruvar. The music director is A.R. Rahman, a Ratnam discovery whose infectious melodies in more than 100 films have made him, by some accounts, the world’s best-selling recording artist. Last year Rahman won two Oscars for his Slumdog Millionaire score. (See TIME’s Summer Entertainment Preview.)

    In 2007 this eminent quartet collaborated on the popular, well-received Guru, a fictionalized bio-pic of the Indian plutocrat Dhirubhai Ambani. (Abhishek and Aishwarya, known everywhere as Abhi and Ash, fell in love on the set and were married shortly after the opening.) The new film would be a modern retelling of The Ramayana, the beloved Sanskrit epic about the kidnapping of Sita, wife of the monarch Rama, by the demon king Ravana; Bachchan would play the kidnapper, Rai the abductee and the Tamil star Vikram her husband. Filmed in three versions — Hindi (as Raavan), Tamil (as Raavanan) and Telegu (as Villain) — and released last weekend on 2,200 screens around the world, including 109 in the U.S., the picture had all the makings of a critical success and an international hit.

    Except it wasn’t. The local reviews ranged from disappointed to scathing (though the few American critics were more indulgent). The film’s global weekend take, of Rs 52 crores, or about $11.6 million, fell far below that of the recent Indian hits 3 Idiots, My Name Is Khan and Kites. Film fans were soon jamming the internet to express derision toward Raavan and complain about Bachchan’s outsize acting style. So noisome was the tumult that, on Sunday, Papa Amitabh took to Twitter to blame his son’s character’s “erratic behaviour” on the director’s vigorous editing style: “Lot of merited film edited out, causing inconsistent performance and narrative.” Ratnam Tweeted back: “Amitji should have conveyed me whatever he wanted to say, he has my cell no.” One of India’s all-time top film stars and its greatest living auteur were dissing each other like sophomore cheerleaders in a Facebook snit. (Watch TIME’s 10 Questions with A.R. Rahman.)

    So, you ask, how is the movie? Rather, how is the Hindi version, the one shown in the U.S.? Well, Raavan is better than you’d be led to think by all the outrage; it’s just not up to the director’s high standard. It begins with a vibrant chaos of images, as Rahman’s ultra-catchy tune “Beera Beera” (listen to it on YouTube) accentuates the propulsive pace. The movie boasts some impressive stunt work, as the stars or their stunt doubles slide down rock faces, drop through tree branches or navigate a giant waterfall. The best action scene takes place on a rickety foot-bridge with the purported hero dangling over a ravine, his life literally in the hand of the purported villain. And at the very end the film ventures into the territory of ethical ambiguity. But in between are wastes of creaky incident without much enriching of character or plot. And the central performance by Bachchan is either a bold stab at thespic immortality or an essay in grotesque derangement. Maybe both.

    A region troubled by insurgency gets a new Chief Inspector: Dev (Vikram), accompanied by his faithful wife Ragini (Rai). In short order, Ragini is kidnapped by the legendary rebel Beera (Bachchan) and held for 14 days —as opposed to the 14 years of the queen’s captivity in The Ramayana — while she juggles her hatred for Beera with a growing sympathy. In a flashback, we learn that Beera has abducted Ragini in retaliation for the long-ago abuse suffered by his beloved stepsister Jamuniya (Priyamani) at the hands of the local police. Meanwhile, in his desperate search for Ragini, Dev finds an ally in the forest guard Sanjeevani (Govinda). Den and Beera finally clash, on the wooden bridge, but what seems like the movie’s climax is just where it starts to get interesting.

    While Raavan may not be not up there with Nayakan, Roja, Bombay and Dil Se, it’s very recognizably a Mani Ratnam film. His work often touches on controversial real-life figures (Mafia bosses, revolutionaries) and incendiary political issues (terrorist kidnappings, the Bombay riots of 1992-93, the Sri Lankan war), and Raavan is no exception. Ahbishek’s Beera, while clearly a version of The Ramayana’s Ravana character, is also reputed to be partially based on Kobad Ghandy, a Maoist leader of the ongoing naxalite insurgency in Northern India.

    One big difference: Ghandy is a well-educated, world-traveled theoretician; Beera is a primitive warrior. Bachchan plays him as a creature of wild gestures and grimaces, ever slapping his cranium and making chaka-chaka-chaka grunts, and with a flashing of clenched teeth not seen since Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster had their showdown at the O.K. Corral. It’s a performance both feral and mopey, as if Sly Stallone had taken a crash course in the Stanislavski method before going into the jungle to play Rambo. And when Beera holds Ragini captive, the unmistakable point of reference is the fable of Beauty and the Beast. To put it in movie-monster terms, she is Faye Wray, and he the Ramayana King Kong.

    What’s odd is the lack of chemistry between kidnapper and victim, considering they’re husband and wife in real life. The love story the audience expects to develop has no hint of physical or even emotional intimacy. That’s partly because the clash of acting styles is as large as the chasm separating Ragini and Beera, and partly because Rai, while easy to look at, lacks the spark of a natural performer. In Guru, Abhishek had said moonily to Aishwarya, “You shine as beautifully as polyester,” and Rai is always a fairly synthetic actress. The genuine screen charisma here is provided by the Tamil ingénue Priyamani, who invests the supporting role of Beera’s stepsister with a flirtatious charm during her bridal scene, then aching despair when the police violate her on her wedding night. And for the film’s core emotional connection, you must look to the relationship of the stalwart policeman Dev and his loving wife Ragini.

    SPOILER ALERT: The Dev-Ragini conflict really kicks in at the end of the film, when they are reunited after his foot-bridge fight with Beera. Suddenly flashing signs of jealousy, the Inspector impugns his wife’s loyalty to him and she returns to Raavan. Turns out Dev does believe Ragini; driving her away was his scheme to follow her trail back to Raavan, surround the outlaw with a police posse and kill him. So this is the story of a cop who loves and trusts his wife, yet puts her life in jeopardy by using her as a pawn to get his man. It’s another instance of Ratnam saving his coolest surprises for the very end of a film — as in the 1998 Dil Se, where journalist Shahrukh Khan falls for separatist-terrorist babe Manisha Koirala and, as she is about to detonate a suicide bomb that will kill a local politician, embraces her in a final act of love and patriotism.END SPOILER ALERT.

    The movie looks terrific. This bucolic melodrama is set in some of India’s most spectacular natural settings, including Kerala’s Athirappilly Falls (which Ratnam also used in Iruvar and Guru), the lush hills of Malshej Ghat near Mumbai and the forests of Karnataka. Cinematographer Santosh Sivan contrasts the lushness of nature with Beera’s monochromatic mud war-paint and the chalk-smeared faces of his followers, similar to the camouflage daubs worn by Martin Sheen and the Vietnamese natives in Apocalypse Now. In familiar Ratnam fashion, the camera often does 360-degree wind sprints around the actors. When the director creates a compelling fictional universe in other films, his camerabatics express the turbulence of characters in extremis. Here, the whirling technique is a case of going nowhere fast.

    As a showcase for some of Indian cinema’s most renowned talents, Raavan has to be considered a disappointment. But as a big summer epic about a forest bandit, hey — it’s better than the Russell Crowe Robin Hood. And, thanks to A.R. Rahman’s infectious songs, this one you can dance to.

    Like

    • “and the central performance by Bachchan is either a bold stab at thespic immortality or an essay in grotesque derangement. Maybe both.”

      Isn’t it a truly authentic performance that can allow for such ‘undecidability’?!

      I do however cringe at the King King analogy.

      Corliss doesn’t seem to have seen everything by Rathnam. Hard to believe he would leave out Iruvar or KM and mention Roja.

      One can disagree with many things here as I certainly do but he does make a number of interesting points. And if he’s taking it over a Ridley Scott (even if it’s Robin Hood!) it’s certainly not the film most Indian reviewers think it is!

      Like

    • note how he understands the perceived lack of chemistry and places the onus more on Ash. He’s surely right on the ‘chasm’ in acting styles. But also very much on the money with the Priyamani comment.

      Like

    • You can say every critic is entitled to put his own interpretation on a film, and one need not know anything about the cultural context of a film to appreciate its greatness; but Corliss makes a couple of egregious errors, IMO. The first one is factual: Sita in the Ramayana isn’t held captive for 14 years, but only one; the 14 years refers to the total length of time that Rama was banished to the forest (vanvaas).* The second one is where he claims: “And when Beera holds Ragini captive, the unmistakable point of reference is the fable of Beauty and the Beast.” Well, it may be “unmistakable” to those who only know the fable of the Beauty and the Beast, and not the Ramayana. But somehow I think Mani Rathnam may have had the latter in his mind when making the film for indian audiences.

      *Here’s an interesting tidbit about the length of the vanvaas, both in the Ramayana (14 years) and the Mahabharata (12 years, plus one year of living incognito). I had always wondered why this number of 12-14 years keeps coming up. Then I read that in ancient times, if one was absent from a kingdom for a period of 12 years/14 years, one loses one’s citizenship rights in that kingdom. Very interesting. So, even if Ram comes back after the 14 years, he cannot make any claims to the throne, as he no longer has even ordinary civic rights in the kingdom. This really puts Bharata’s sacrifice in greater perspective.

      (I know this has nothing to do with the film. I just put it in for Rooney. 🙂 )

      Like

      • thanks for that note SM.. indeed there are some factual and contextual errors here that seem rather inexcusable.. he also says that only the Hindi was released in the US.

        that historical note is extremely interesting..

        In the film one of Beera’s brothers laments that his promise of holding Ragini captive for 14 hrs has extended to a 14 day period!

        Like

      • mksrooney Says:

        well sm if ever i remember my time on blog, with due respect to all this will be one of the most unique learning thing…

        so instead of simply adding adjectives… i want to ask how the hell do u have so much knowledge 🙂 !!!!!!!!!!!

        i m curious now… have u read the whole ramayan and mahabharat, or which school u went, or was someone historian in ur family or are by any chance distant cousin of ROBERT LANGDON!!

        amazing info and knowledge.. i bow down mylords 🙂

        Like

  27. Prasad defends editing of ‘Raavan’
    Thursday, June 24 2010, 5:50am EDT

    A. Sreekar Prasad has defended his editing of Mani Ratnam’s Raavan.

    The editor spoke out after Amitabh Bachchan, whose son Abhishek stars in the movie, claimed that the film has a poor narrative because of the way it was cut.

    “We don’t want to say anything hurtful about Mr Bachchan,” Prasad told Mid Day.

    “As a member of the audience, he has the right to say whatever he wants to. We’ve been in the process of editing Raavan for a year and a half. I have gone through the footage with Mani so rigorously. We were probably in the best position to judge what was good for the film.

    “The director chose to start the narrative on a very high note. It begins with the kidnapping and moves straight ahead to the finale. We had no back projection, no explanations and no character establishment. We chose to tell our story in this way. We didn’t want to spoon-feed the audience.”

    He added: “Mr Bachchan wanted us to graphically show ten heads. Mani and I tried that. But we made a conscious decision not to get into that area. We decided to let the audience get into the character’s head as the narrative progressed. I am sure there are lots of people who didn’t get the point. But it was a risk worth taking. Because a certain section did comprehend.”

    Like

  28. umohanty@hotmail.com Says:

    Raj, you say, ” You know, the people entertained by Housefull are the spiritual descendants of fans of Bachchan’s 80′s potboilers.” Not true. Bachchan’s performance alone took all his films to a different level. There is nothing equivalent of a My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves in whole of Akki’s portfolio. and even something like Pag Ghungroo stands head and shoulders above something like Apni to Jaisi taisi fro HF which anyway is borrowed from an Amitabh film to start with. And dont foreget Amitabh had Anand, Zanjer, Dewar, Bemisal, Agneepath, Shakti and Mili to balance the potboilers. The descendants of Amitabh’s potboiler fans should have higher standards than HF, plllease!

    Like

  29. check out ‘Asokavanam’ in the sidebar.

    Like

  30. IAMTHAT Says:

    Off topic, but its worth having look here… Online Movie Watch: Dingora.com

    http://passionforcinema.com/dingora-com-guru-ho-ja-shuru/

    Like

  31. thans for great sharing

    Like

  32. Why_so_serious Says:

    I don’t spot a semblance of anti-Tamil charge placed against Satyam. Too wild an imagination to assume so. On the other hand, the way Satyam’s comments were shaping up so far, not that far from suggestions of ‘tamil nationalism’!

    Re.”Being closer to the milieu can also introduce distortion as one can ‘relate’ to certain things”

    That’s not at all improbable. But I see massive distortion deployed here. I only visit to protest *that* and not because you have problems against a certain identity.

    Qalandar,
    Re.”has never as far as I know suggested he was being disagreed with/criticized because he was a Tamil nationalist!”

    You’re right in saying this. But let me further clarify I’m not a Tamil nationalist or chauvinist. It’s a distasteful charge (considering all possible connotations)

    I NEVER said non-Tamils aren’t allowed to comment/review Tamil films! In fact, fearing I’d be perceived as such, I never commented on KM that I promised I would. Eventually I revisited the film, the criticism shrinked to nit-picks that doesn’t alter the ways through which it engaged its fans here.

    Re.” it was suggested that all discussions of Tamil star-actors on this blog had an agenda to exalt Amitabh at the expense of….Tamil star-actors”
    And Abhishek, very much so.

    Like

    • Re: “But let me further clarify I’m not a Tamil nationalist or chauvinist.”

      Let me also stress that I do not see “Tamil nationalist” and “Tamil…chauvinist” as interchangeable terms — I don’t see anything particularly distasteful about the former at all, whereas the latter is, whether or not Tamil…

      BTW, hope you do get around to commenting on Kannathil Muthamittal.

      Aside: I also think it grossly unfair to read the pieces I (not to mention others) have written on Raavan/Raavanan, and to view them only through the prism of the agenda you imagine to be there, and that you feel informs every thing. I think of the dozens of comments you left on the piece here and my other one, and on Rooney’s, I can’t think of a single one that sought to engage with either (as opposed to “debunking” what you asserted was necessarily there).

      Like

      • Why_so_serious Says:

        I didn’t imply they were interchangeable.

        But you do know “Tamil nationalism” connotes to certain distasteful sensibilities in practical terms. Anti-North, anti-brahminism, etc..

        Like

        • Yes I am aware — but quite frankly, no “nationalism” is free from distasteful possibilities (admittedly there is a specifically anti-Brahmin “valence” to Tamil nationalism that is not just mere potential (the same could be said of most other nationalisms too); moreover I do think that what tamil nationalism is has been an evolving process, and that charge has a lot less edge today than (e.g.) in 1967)

          Like

        • though that itself is a ‘Northern’ reading.. the Tamilian who is nationalistic in this sense does not think being ‘anti-North’, ‘anti-Hindi’, ‘anti-Brahmin’ and so on as anything to be embarrassed about. The resistance is with respect to Norther hegemony not the North in any other sense. Of course over the last century or more Davidian politics has been tied to a certain linguistic nationalism that is one of a kind even in the South. Even going beyond this it is not very easy to think of another linguistic nationalism that surpasses the Tamil one. I am not criticizing it by the way, just describing it. Here’s incidentally a great book on all of this:

          Passions of the Tongue

          Like

      • Why_so_serious Says:

        “I also think it grossly unfair to read the pieces I (not to mention others) have written on Raavan/Raavanan, and to view them only through the prism of the agenda”
        ——-
        Definitely not..

        Like

  33. masterpraz Says:

    Amazing review here Q…i just finished putting up your review of RAAVAN on MP (and finished watching RAAVAN for the first time today)…plan to catch it again before doing the review.

    http://masterpraz.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/qalandars-review-of-raavan-hindim-2010/

    Like

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