Comparative piece on Raavan/Raavanan (Abzee)

Having seen the Tamil Raavanan thrice and the Hindi Raavan twice, I strongly felt that I must put my thoughts to writing on these twin efforts by Mani Ratnam. So, despite the fact that in the pieces by Goodfella, Satyam and Qalandar, the movies have already been explored, understood and dissected in great detail; I offer my views on this unfairly dismissed Herculean endeavour by possibly India’s finest contemporary filmmaker. A special shout-out and thanks to Sandy for compelling me to write this piece.

I had already reviewed the Tamil Raavanan for Sakaal Times. I reproduce the review below, followed by my comparative piece on the films.

Almost a perfect 10

Dir- Mani Ratnam
Cast- Vikram Kennedy, Aishwarya Rai, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Karthik Muthuraman, Priyamani Iyer, John Vijay and Prabhu Ganesan
Rating- ****

Krishna has always triumphed over Rama in our films. The staid, if steadfast, ideal God appears too dull for the times we live in. The multifaceted Krishna thus, serves fittingly as a modern God. And by extension, Mahabharata, the text he features in, seems more privileged to address our collective positives and failings. Perhaps why, the Ramayana, of which this Mani Ratnam flick (and its Hindi twin) is an adaptation, can be afforded to be told today not by extolling the deadpan virtues of its colourless God, but in humanizing the hastily vilified antagonist of that piece- the ten-headed demon Ravana.

Southern India has anyways been rather soft on Ravana. The great Tamil poet Kambar, in his version of the Ramayana, tries to understand the reason behind Ravana’s actions and, in doing so, daringly deviates from Valmiki and Tulsidas’ versions at key moments. Ratnam’s adaptation is clearly closer to Kambaramayanam; the Rama of this piece merely serving to balance out the equation in a universe that Ravana presides over. And that Ravana is Veera (Vikram Kennedy), an outlaw bandit living in the Ambasamudram district of Tirunelveli. To the deprived lot that he belongs to, Veera is the protector and provider. Not without his flaws and given to vices, Veera is an imperfect God. So while he is intimidating, he is also vulnerable… a weakness that comes to the fore when he kidnaps Ragini (Aishwarya Rai), the dutiful Sita to cop Dev (Prithviraj Sukumaran).

We all know how the story goes. So it is fascinating to see Ratnam, with superb support from his cinematographers V. Manikandan and Santosh Sivan, visualize the kidnapping as a hallucination and the subsequent confrontations between Veera and Ragini as a fierce clash between forces of nature. Set to apt Tamil lyrics, Usire Poghudey is a visual feast of a song that beautifully showcases Veera’s Ravana- the controller of all worlds -being struck by the simple beauty of a delicate but unyielding Ragini.

Much of Raavanan’s pleasure comes from the relationship between Veera and Ragini. Vikram and Aishwarya Rai display such crackling chemistry; you can literally sense Veera falling for Ragini… and her getting turned on by his proximity, despite him. The Hindu text accorded no Stockholm Syndrome to Sita’s stay at Ravana’s Lanka; but in Ratnam’s Raavanan, the captive Sita finds herself being drawn to her brusque captor. Further subversion is offered in Veera’s back-story. While his sister’s humiliation still remains the prime vexation fuelling this Ravana, Ratnam and his fellow writer (wife Suhasini) spell out what has been hushed among certain scholastic circles for a long time- that Rama’s brother Lakshmana chopping off Ravana’s sister Surpanakha’s nose is indeed a tentative metaphor alluding more than what it literally states.

The back-story which comes about in the second half goes a long way in shifting our sympathies towards Veera. The villain becomes the vilified. And in an even bolder move, the ‘ideal’ Rama is deconstructed as well. But somewhere in dealing so intensely with the text, the narrative loses focus from its setting. We never get a feel of the cause Veera fights for. One supposes the Hindi version will be naturally advantaged in dealing with Naxal undertones. But can the Hindi one paint a neutral picture of Ravana with as much freedom? Or capture the sexual tension between Veera and Ragini, given that Abhishek Bachchan will be coveting his real-life wife on-screen?

This version is a sure winner. Aishwarya has never looked more ethereal, merging with the lush locales; while Vikram delivers possibly his best performance till date. The ten-headed demon finds a worthy player.

Unlearning Ramayana- The Discomfort of Raavan / Raavanan

Mani Ratnam isn’t attempting the twin-lingual (not bilingual, since that would mean a single film with two languages) for the first time. As with many other things, he has been a pioneer in this regard as well…only to be followed by the likes of Gautham Menon who simultaneously shot his Tamil & Telugu films Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa and Ye Maaya Chesave. But where Menon’s is merely a token attempt at maximizing profits; Ratnam’s Yuva / Ayutha Ezhuthu and more importantly Raavan / Raavanan exist for a reason. Think of Clint Eastwood’s twin-films on the Battle of Iwo Jima. They exist not as a gimmick, but as a genuine effort to offer the most complete picture, a neutral one, on what is otherwise an incident (and image) that rests in public consciousness as an unshakeable template. To see the Flags Of Our Fathers is to unlearn what we know of that iconic image that sold a war to a nation; only to be then presented in Letters From Iwo Jima a picture of the faceless enemy… this time with a face, and more significantly, a soul. You will never look at that image atop Mount Suribachi the same way again once you’ve seen these two complimentary films. Just like you won’t look at the epic Ramayana the same way again once you’ve seen Ratnam’s twin-films.

At the heart of Raavan / Raavanan lies the onerous task of unlearning that what we know of the Ramayana. And Ratnam lays the onus on the viewer; probably an unwise move given how the Indian audience isn’t equipped to fill-in-the-blanks. (My statement may draw ire, but it shouldn’t be misconstrued as a supercilious condescension of the Indian populace; it is merely an attestation of the generational conditioning brought about by a ‘Bollywood’ narrative that has never really educated its audience base in the art of ellipsis.)

Abhishek Bachchan shouldn’t have refused to do the Tamil version. His absence in the Tamil version restricts Ratnam’s experiment from achieving its full impact, but not to the extent where it hampers the initiative. Allow me to elaborate.

I saw the Tamil Raavanan first. The version of the Ramayana that we have all been fed since our childhood (and by that Ramanand Sagar television show which you’d agree taught us more than the actual text) is the Valmiki one. Going into the Tamil version, in spite of being aware of the subversion in Kambar’s text, one senses a shaking of an old template. Besides the fact that the film itself is titled after the antagonist of the piece, the early bits (a fabulous montage of mayhem that is literally set in motion by the flick of a small rock being hurled into the abyss below a cliff…a motif that appears regularly throughout the film) make you uncomfortable with its ‘anointing’, so to speak, of Veera (the Ravana of this script) as the ‘lead’ of the film. He is still not the ‘hero’ yet; having been introduced to a stand-in proxy hero in Dev (the Rama of this piece; ironic that Rama continues to be the ‘Dev’, but Ravana is named the brave one in ‘Veera’). Laxmana still is the agent who informs of Sita’s abduction (the phone call that Dev receives is that of Hemanth, the Laxmana of the piece), but the systematic destruction of our template is brought about by a peculiar transfer of the mythic bird Jatayu’s allegiance. The physical destruction of the ‘familiar’ world of Ramayana by way of Veera’s boat crashing into that of the ignorantly serene Sita (Ragini here) is portended by the ominous bird. And immediately, we are discomforted. Surely Jatayu’s loyalties lay with the ‘ideal’ hero of the text.

Ratnam further destabilizes the epic text. The 14 year exile that Rama & Sita underwent doesn’t begin here until Veera kidnaps Ragini. It is so subtle, it almost misses our attention…but the pair that undergoes the exile here isn’t that of Rama & Sita, but of Ravana & Sita instead. The only constant to this rewritten world of Ramayana then is the Sita character. Since she becomes a surrogate for the audience, the ‘awakening’ must obviously happen to her. Very cleverly then, Ratnam and editor Sreekar Prasad, ‘awaken’ Ragini, and the audience by extension, twice in this film. First, after the aforementioned montage that gives way to the opening credits which make the film sound more like a ballad of Ravana. The black screen gives way, figuratively as well since Ragini’s blindfold is also removed, to the world of Veera. Having been shorn off our prejudice, we now enter along with Ragini into the world of an antagonist of whom we have our own ideas. Much of what happens to her, of the emotions she goes through, happen to us. The fear, repulsion, curiosity, inexplicable attraction…they all happen to us as well. And much of this is due to the manner in which Vikram plays Veera, and the resultant chemistry he shares with Aishwarya’s Ragini. Vikram’s Veera, right from the very first time we see him share a plane with Ragini, allows us an entry ‘inside’ him. We see a pain being hid, as he stands atop the cliff where Ragini is dragged to. And we see his vulnerability when he hopelessly falls for Ragini, as her fragile frame is gently held by the very nature around him, of which he believes he is the master. Veera’s ‘world’ though conspires against him, choosing to save Ragini. That Ragini’s fall is later mirrored in the climax by Veera’s eventual ‘fall’ to death is a harsh reminder to this moment earlier where Veera’s ‘falling’ in love had manifestly meant his ‘falling’ to death. His ‘world’ wouldn’t protect him, as it had protected Ragini.

But before Rahman’s crooning of Naan Varuven underlines this moment, and the preceding narrative, as the bemoaning of an ill-interpretation that can be corrected only by a resurrection / reincarnation, we (as well as Ragini) have already had our eyes ‘opened’ to the deceit of Rama. The ‘awakening’ happens a second time in the film at the precise moment where Ravana has not so much lost the battle, but conceded a faux-defeat…having actually ‘lost’ his heart. Ragini, who had until then accomplished her ‘exile’, emerges pure from it…only to have Dev questioning her chastity. Cleverly filmed in a corridor, their relationship enters the dark tunnels of suspicion and distrust…only for Ragini to walk away from Rama’s world of recurring tunnels and travel to the ‘open’ world of Veera.

In a sense then, we don’t experience an adaptation of Ramayana so much as a reimagining / correction of the Ravana-Sita equation book-ended by a prologue that identifies Ravana as the protagonist (thereby tearing down our prejudice) and an epilogue that has achieved its subversion by projecting Rama as the antagonist (thereby rendering our template awash). Everything that happens in the middle is the over-text…the ‘education’, not seduction, to the ‘darker’ side. And therefore, the shift is also rightly brought about in the second half, for it would defeat the purpose to present Veera’s back-story in a linear fashion. The only linear narrative in this otherwise non-linear retelling is the gradual decline and systematic non-edification of the Rama character.

This brings me to the Hindi Raavan and the Abhishek performance. Vikram is phenomenal as Veera in Raavanan. He has the majestic presence required to pull off such a role. More importantly, his is a performance that by virtue of its humanity, ‘grounds’ this film which otherwise always seems to be visually and thematically teetering off dangerous vantage points. His is the emotional anchor in this deeply destabilizing world of cliffs, abysses and deluge. Despite the fact that Veera’s world has no contextual bearing, Vikram never lets us feel that absence. He chooses to play the fool and the manic oppressor, but he has nobody fooled. Perhaps he doesn’t want to. We always see and sense the ‘human’ within; directly expressed only in the flashback where we see him cutting loose and breaking a leg at his sister’s wedding.

Contrast this with Abhishek’s Beera. Abhishek plays Beera like an unhinged man. Every time we see him, we recognize that all he needs is a little push to completely topple over to the psychotic side. Even in the above wedding song, Beera doesn’t cut loose like Veera does. He never becomes the ‘human’ that Veera emerges as. Right until the end, Beera never lets us in on what he’s feeling. This becomes extremely problematic when all that you’re likely to watch is the Hindi Raavan. Unlike Raavanan, the subversion is never realized fully and remains only at an argumentative level, because Beera remains the distant ‘mythic’ character, allowing us little to no hint of the ‘human’ within.

Abhishek’s ‘rendition’ further disturbs the balance, as in his scenes with Aishwarya we never sense the chemistry that she shares with Vikram (both as her Ravana in Raavanan and Rama in Raavan). In two very momentous scenes, she reacts differently in the two versions. Firstly, in the surreal slower version of Ranjha Ranjha (Kaattu Sirukki in Tamil), we see her battling the demon in Ravana and trying to escape his clutches. He never touches her, his hands running over the contours of her torso as if he were sketching an outline. She smells his sweat when his shawl brushes past her, and he inhales her scent as he ducks under her to be swept by her hair. Aishwarya’s Ragini is noticeably turned on, inexplicably so, by the carnal undercurrents in her face-off with Vikram’s Veera. When he ‘vanishes’ from the scene, she looks around…surprised to have learnt that he’s left, almost afraid that had he been there, things might have led to something. With Abhishek’s Beera, the reaction she gives is a nervous prayer hoping that he’s left. Later, in that superbly shot sequence against the reclining Vishnu, when Vikram’s Veera questions her whether she loves Dev, Ragini’s silence is a testament to her earlier pleading to the Lord to help her retain her resolve and fight off her weakness. In response to the same question from Abhishek’s Beera, her silence only underlines her longing for Dev.

Even otherwise, as I said earlier, in a film that is attempting such gymnastics visually and thematically; it needed a performance that operates within familiar registers. In all fairness then, Vikram’s is the more apt performance, and certainly the better one, for this reviewer. Moreover, if it were only one film that you’re planning to catch of the two versions, I’d strongly recommend the Tamil, purely because it singularly does and achieves that which the Hindi one as a standalone film doesn’t and cannot. But here comes the fascinating bit…if you’re planning to catch both versions, I’d suggest you watch the Hindi one first. That is exactly how Mani Ratnam intended it…and that is how one must see these twin-films to get the full effect. It took me a second viewing of Raavan to realize this…shedding new light on the Abhishek performance as well. Not that it makes his performance better than Vikrams’s but it certainly does act out its role and function as a complimenting performance. And this is why I rue the fact that Abhishek chose not to do the Tamil film.

At the heart of Raavan / Raavanan lies the unlearning of Ramayana…of veering away from Valmiki’s text, and going closer to Kambar’s version- a North-South, Aryan-Dravidian divide, if you will. Justifiably then, one film is in Hindi and the other is in Tamil. And for the ‘experiment’ to truly work, we must first witness the ‘Hindi’ version, before we can appreciate the subversion in the ‘Tamil’. The Hindi film, though the same, doesn’t really go the distance in its humanizing the Ravana character. The way Abhishek plays it; he piques our curiosity…but never to the extent where we are completely assimilated into his ‘side’. He still remains decidedly distant. The disturbance in this version is brought about more by Vikram’s portrayal of Rama, a stronger foil to Abhishek’s Ravana. And yet, even in the Hindi one, Rama ends up as the negative one…something we buy all the more easily because in a clever inversion, it is a South actor playing the prototypical Northern role.

Switch to the other side of the coin, and Sita still remains the constant. But the villainous Rama of the Hindi has now become the accessible humanistic Ravana of the Tamil. In essence then, what this inverse casting stresses upon is that we shall always see the ‘southern’ demon as a villain, even as a God. For our bigotry to be upset, and our window into Ravana to be truly opened, we required a goading into Ravana’s world in the Hindi version that blossoms fully only in the Tamil version. Abhishek here as the Rama character would’ve added greatly to the event, as it would’ve meant a total recalibration of roles and ideals.

Even the readings of the above mentioned scenes between Beera & Ragini and Veera & Ragini assume new meaning. So in the first instance, our ‘familiar’ reading would be to see Sita wish Ravana were away…only to learn that she probably wished otherwise in the Tamil one. And likewise in the scene before the ‘eroded’ Vishnu statue. The knowledge that Ragini’s marriage to Dev was an arranged one, imparted to us in the Tamil version, sheds further light on her reaction. But perhaps the best twin-moment complimenting each other is the monologue before the reclining Vishnu statue. In the Hindi one, Abhishek’s Beera proudly proclaims that even ‘burning’ with jealousy as he does, Ravana’s is a splendid sight to behold than any of Rama. The Tamil one has a different dialogue, something along the lines of him feeling all too powerful because of his flaw…his jealousy making him human. The Hindi scene alludes to the smoldering pyre of Ravana on Dussehra, while the Tamil one adds a poignant subtext to it. In a sense, Vikram’s Veera becomes the key to unlock Abhishek’s Beera.

And Raavanan becomes the instructional supplement to Raavan!

139 Responses to “Comparative piece on Raavan/Raavanan (Abzee)”

  1. Excellent piece here Abzee as is of course characteristic of you. I further celebrate the fact that you’ve returned to a full length piece after quite some time. Hope this continues! But this is truly insightful stuff even if as you know I have a very different reading of both films. Specially on how each version works where (and leaving aside the lead performances) I see the ‘purpose’ of the director from a diametrically opposed point to yours. But I won’t repeat what is already available elsewhere in other threads.

    Really like the point on this or Yuva/AE not being bilinguals in the usual sense. The second piece especially is a fascinating read throughout.


  2. Incidentally I put up a comment yesterday following a Sify report but it’s quite an irony that the Hindi version is holding up best in Chennai multiplexes! Meanwhile the big initial made the Tamil version safe, it started sinking but stayed stable at the lower end and again according to Sify the 5 day Tamil conference holidays helped this one stay a bit more stable (an explanation I’m not sure I entirely buy given that when films are rejected holidays usually do not save them.. next week should make this clear one way or the other). The Telugu version is a disaster like the Hindi (this is where a few of Vikram’s Tamil failures have done well in the past). Overall Rathnam has overall and very sadly not quite found his mark anywhere with this one. The Hindi is of course a total goner specially with all the hysteria generated here as is the Telugu. For the Tamil I continue to hold out hope that Rathnam has a solid hit. It’s an average because of the initial for sure but I want it to really do well in at least one version. Seems unlikely but another week of stability could do it.


  3. The final lines of your (even otherwise) insightful piece really hit the nail on the head, and above all else, I agree that the Hindi version (which I far prefer, along with its lead performance, to the Tamil) needs to be seen before one experiences the Tamil.

    Even though there are patches where I obviously don’t agree with you, this is beside the point. I’m frankly happy that at least one of these pieces found its way into a newspaper. The mainstream media has savaged this film like no other, and embarrassed themselves in the process.

    Yours is also the review that most perceptively and “completely” deals with the Ramayana aspect of these films, which is doubtlessly important, but not something I was prepared to grapple with it. While the subversion of the text didn’t exactly become the focus of my experience, what did (particularly in the Hindi version) was the parallel drawn between ancient subversion and the modern political climate alluded to (always alluded to) by Ratnam.

    Thanks Abzee.


  4. Thanks for putting this up Satyam. With a project like this, agreement/disagreement is besides the point. Quite frankly, I have been left stunned by the superlative writings that this Ratnam endeavour has prompted in you, Qalandar and Goodfella. Mine is but a late & lame adjoinder!

    With the first piece, I was working within a word limit. Even as it stands, there are still so many aspects that I haven’t been able to cover in my longer second piece. This is such a rich & rewarding effort by Ratnam really…I keep finding something new every single time.


    • Abzee, you are assuredly being too modest. Your piece is every bit as incisive as any I’ve seen on the film. Agreement/disagreement is indeed beside the point but less so when it comes to the project (we have of course been treated to some garbage in the Hindi media!) and much more so when it’s a question of your writings which always stimulate in the very best sense of the word..


    • mksrooney Says:

      cent percent agreed on agreement disagreement.. this is indeed a unique film comapre to crap we get week in week out.. in hindi cinema..

      besides satyam or abzee send a link to bachchan please.. he will be happy..

      ps- i havent read at it full only from above.. but need time to get in to details of it.. but in on word.. this is a stunning narration description what ever u say say abzee.. like gunners in full flow.. 🙂

      u are be cesc fabregas in writing 🙂

      also urs, satyams, gfs, q bhais piece makes one happy about watching this film and reading them.. real tribute rathnam by u…


  5. Goodfella- Thanks. My piece doubtlessly pales in comparison to your highly informative one (of which my sole disagreement is with your reading of Abhishek’s acting as some sort of a physical performance…which given that Ravana himself was a Shiv-bhakt, could find some currency as an interpretative dance-drama routine on Abhishek’s part).

    The Hindi one clearly dealt with the political much more intensely. I was aware of this, and it is, as I said in my previous comment, one of the many topics untouched by me. These films have collectively so much worth writing about…it is puzzling and also a damning statement on the poor levels of film criticism prevalent in our country.

    I chose to focus on the mythological subversion, only because the Tamil one, which I obviously preferred and have used as my primary film in this piece, dealt more directly with the epic text. Note the first time we see/hear Veera say something, he is correcting and completing a religious hymn that Ragini spouts at him. Like the demon-king Ravana, Veera too is introduced as all-knowing and learned in religious texts.


    • “Note the first time we see/hear Veera say something, he is correcting and completing a religious hymn that Ragini spouts at him.”

      What’s great here, of course, is that Ragini is literally “blinded” during this moment…definitely worth highlighting this. When this scene played out, it actually reminded me of that terrific moment in Kannathil where Madhavan is “kidnapped” by the militia, and as he’s dragged away he begins reciting revolutionary verse that Pasupathi’s militant leader recognizes and, in turn, repeats. Another “mirroring” between this and an earlier Ratnam film…

      I wouldn’t be least surprised if the “verse” in either KM/Raavanan in some way “intersect”…


    • I should also say that the physical dance-drama brand of performance that Abhishek (to my mind) evoked wasn’t exclusive to him. Vikram had moments where he touched on this style too, just dialed down in a way Abhishek wasn’t. As I’d said elsewhere, this needn’t have been the purpose of the broad strokes in both performances, but it was for me a great “in” when it came to reading these performances and finding a reason behind the characterization.


  6. Rooney- Thanks. I wouldn’t want to embarrass Mr. Bachchan with my piece. Satyam is being too kind, but then he generally has been so on me.

    Talking about football, I’m frankly stunned to see 5 South American teams in the final 8! The Argentina v Germany match is gonna be a heartburn for me…I love Argentina, but have absolute respect for the manner in which this young German side has risen to the challenge. They’re playing fearless football, and in Miroslav Klose have a player who saves his best for the Big Stage, irrespective of his poor form at the club level.

    Also, I wanna see Spain in the final, but that would mean I’ll be rooting against Brazil in the semis 😦


    • mksrooney Says:

      same here stunned by south american forces.. its first time after 1970 i read somwhere..

      agree on arg v ger.. the feeling of urs is same with me..

      meanwhile have u checked out ozil.. this guy has stunned mew at age of 21!!.. hes the german genius.. really he will make it big the find of tournament.. also felt sorry chile they were playing great football 😦

      also its 4 south amrican teams i guess not 5..

      nope i didnt got ur last statement of seeing spain in final..

      the link says possible semis are

      brazil/dutch vs uruguay/ghana

      spain/para v arg/ger

      i want a argentina brazil final 🙂

      (love ya spain but love maradona more..)

      ps- all in all we are here for treat and may best team win…


  7. Vikram’s Veera questions her whether she loves Dev, Ragini’s silence is a testament to her earlier pleading to the Lord to help her retain her resolve and fight off her weakness. In response to the same question from Abhishek’s Beera, her silence only underlines her longing for Dev.

    – Why did Mani opted for this difference in both versions? I’ve watched Hindi three times, felt Abhishek excelled with each viewing. To me, Ash’s characterization towards beera has not welldeveloped. No plan to watch tamil.


  8. mksrooney Says:

    satyam a observation of mine in fun!!!

    funnily i just noticed one thing today only…

    ss- has black screen.. (beera wears black most time..)
    ng- white screen… (dev wears white most time )

    was satyam indirectly being raavan to rohit being dev 😉


  9. Rooney- Strange. The Fifa chart which I have shows WQF1 v WQF2 and WQF3 v WQF4, which would mean Ghana/Uruguay v Argentina/Germany & Brazil/Netherlands v Paraguay/Spain. I’ll be thrilled if that’s not the case. Anyway, Uruguay’s gonna undeservingly be in the semis.

    My bad, it’s 4 South American, 3 European and 1 African team in the final 8.


    • mksrooney Says:

      yup strange indeed abzee.. but i would love the chart u have is true.. meaning if my team argies beat germans they can easily be in final 🙂


  10. Ted- Mani doesn’t opt for the difference…it comes across by way of how the principal actors involved play it off each other.


    • Aishwarya’s Ragini is noticeably turned on, inexplicably so, by the carnal undercurrents in her face-off with Vikram’s Veera


      I don’t think lead actoprs do anything different from director’s view. Ragini is the same lead in both. unless script demands, how can she turned on for Vikram , not for Beera?


      • I’ve seen all Mani’s films, never found any character acted beyond script or below the expectation. He is not a kind of director like Goldie Behl.


  11. OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

    Great review. I like how you write about scenes where Vikram truly exceled and brings reactions frm co-actors…


    • Raavan is a classical example of how media can re write the fate of anything irrespective of the truth behind it. This happend with De Dana Dan , last year. How we can over come this injurious power of media?


  12. Nice. Was just asking if Abzee had written a review and here it is and more.

    Thanks. Great read. Very happy to see some here appreciating the film. Masand and Raja Sen can go on giving praise to MNIK and Kites instead.


  13. Excellent ,excellent stuff here.
    As pointed out by GF the mainstream media has embarrassed itslef and exposed its limitations in trying to ‘massacre’ this film Pieces like this are a saving grace. Abzee, it might be late but it most assuredly aint lame.


  14. Here’s another take on the film which I found interesting:


    • sm,

      Thanks for posting this review. I agree with it 100%, completely what I’ve felt after repeated views of Raavan.


  15. Abzee – Amazing, amazing stuff here. A clinical account of both versions. A thesis of the movie which must be referred to over and over, especially by those who failed to appreciate Rathnam at his finest. Happy to hear you love Argentina, My god has always been Maradona.


  16. Goodfella- The KM reference with regards to the ‘verse’ is apt, and your point about ‘mirroring’ in Ratnam’s films on the mark. Perhaps why ‘twins’ have always been such a regular feature in his films. If it ain’t literal (Bombay, Guru), it is temporal (Iruvar)…or simply lingual (Yuva/AE & Raavan/Raavanan).

    Even with scenes, note how Priyamani’s being left by her to-be husband mirrors Aishwarya’s being abandoned by her fiance in Guru…which of course, especially since the knowledge ‘dawns’ in a train, mirrors Rani’s character realizing her husband ain’t gonna be coming to her…also in a train, but this happens at night, not dawn.

    Which also brings to fore the role that trains play in Mani’s films. In Alai Payuthey, the ‘constant’ is the train platform, with different trains coming and leaving acting as the multiple episodic strands, trying to make sense out of it all. In Raavan/Raavanan, the recurring tunnels and the ‘corridor’ become both a journey into the ‘dark and a station. Of course, sometimes, as in Dil Se, trains are the only joyous respite…while in Thalapathy, it is inextricably linked to a character’s life!


    • And of course, in Iruvar, the train/platforms act as a symbol for “way-stations” of life, leading to the inevitable end of life. The opening shot of Anandan as a child looking out from a train window…Anandan seeing his first wife off for the last time on a platform….Selvam laying down on the tracks in protest as the train nearly runs over him….Selvam finally learning about Anandan’s death on a train platform…

      And that’s just scratching the surface! If one could write a book on Raavan, one could do volumes on that earlier masterwork!


      • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

        Dont know if I am fit to make such observations.
        But Train in Mouna Raagam comes to my mind. In the climax, Mohan pulls the chain and stops the train and carries Revathy. In this film, Ash stops the train and walks away from Vikram..


        • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

          it could have been done anywhere else, but why did Mani chose the train? Mouna ragam is the closest comparison as it’s a pivotal scene to unite husband and wife. Raavan is just opposite.


        • Perfectly “fit” observation, Om… I’d forgotten about the Mouna Ragam moment, that’s a great point…there’s also the counterpoint of Rani/Meera being abandoned on the train by Abhishek/Madhavan in Yuva/AE…


          • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

            in iruvar, mohanlal sees his wife for last time, no? on the other hand prakash raj sees tabu in that rail line protest?


          • Yep, that’s what I mentioned above – Anandan is Lal and Selvam is Prakash Raj…


          • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

            oh i am sorry


          • Om: I don’t think that in mani’s films trains/stations are essentially “about” bringing people together. They could just as easily be the oppposite, as in the Raavan/Raavanan scene you reference, but also in Alai Payuthey, where Maddy’s frantic searches signify separation as GF had ear;ier pointed out. I would say that the essential thing is transit, passage from one stage to another. That level of generality covers most of the Rathnam train sequences that come to mind…


          • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

            yes qalandar..this bringing together as well as breaking up is only regarding raavanan vs mouna raagam


  17. Abzee, thanks very much for this detailed report. Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen either version, so I didn’t read your review of Raavanan, and skimmed your comparison piece. I figure I already know so many spoilers it wouldn’t hurt! I agree with you on the mirror casting of Abhishek and Vikram in the two versions. Too bad Abhishek didn’t do the Tamil version.

    I hope to get back to this when I’ve seen at least the Hindi version (will have to wait for the dvd for the Tamil one).


  18. Ted- I wouldn’t even say Mani Ratnam & Goldie Behl in the same breath as a joke! You seem to have misread my point however.

    I wasn’t suggesting that Abhishek, Aishwarya or any of the actors did anything contrary to what Mani sir must’ve instructed them to do or advised. But any actor, especially the good ones, bring something uniquely ‘theirs’ to a character. If it were not so, then any actor would only be as good/bad as his/her director.

    Yes, a good director can go a long way in extracting a very good performance from an actor only because s/he is able to communicate the inner mind of the character to the actor better. But mind you, despite the same brief, different actors act differently with the same subject material. It happens in plays all the time. Plays run for 1000 shows…multiple actors play the same part…lending a unique shade to every portrayal. It’s called deconstruction in theatre…Gus Van Sant tried the same in film when he remade Hitchcock’s Psycho with the same shots, score & everything. People’s estimation of the Bates portrayal was different for Vince Vaughn from that of Anthony Perkins’.

    As for Aishwarya reacting differently…again, acting is a symbiotic effort, and it is only natural for an actor to react differently, no matter how subtly, to differently co-stars. All actors ultimately play off each other.


    • abzee, thanks for replying. I may not agree with you, but it is a common platform where we exchange views. I still feel director is responsible to overall output. In Raavan, I haven’t seen even a moment where ragini towards Beera. We might have lost in the editing. Behene do promo is much better compared to movie.

      Leave about raavan, I’ve learnt a lot from this site in the last two weeks, how to view/ and interpret the movie. Congrats to Mani, Abhishek for creating this type of stir and Satyam and others for great views.
      Read the blog review posted by sm.


  19. OmSuryamaNamaha- Thanks. I’m glad you liked the film. What hurts most is the manner in which everyone’s gone after this film like a witch-hunt.


    • OmSuryamaNamaha Says:

      Yes, I liked the film very much. you captivated me like Veera’s poetry would have titillated Ragini. I lack such powers of articulation. Humbling to read some of the reviews and comments in this site.

      I agree a lot more with comparison between abhishek and vikram because it’s done in a complete and sensible way. Very difgnified.


  20. Kassam- Thanks a lot. So infrequent am I with blogging, and especially since my absence at SS has been quite long, that I’m actually both pleasantly surprised & puzzled that you were enquiring about my piece. I feel honoured, albeit undeservedly!

    Well, I’m glad that atleast my piece was able to live up to your expectations 🙂


  21. Goodfella- I’m typing from my cellular device, so can’t engage with you fluently…but rest assured, with respect to Iruvar, I doubt anybody can do as much justice to the film as you can. Like the film, anything you say about it is still merely scratching the surface compared to your vast bottomless insights on the film.


    • Way too sweet man. I’ll let you off the hook, though, since you’re taking the time to write all this on your phone. 🙂


  22. Rajen anna- Thanks for your words…but in all fairness, so brilliant a film is Raavan/Raavanan, that it is almost impossible to write a lame piece about them. That our mainstream critics managed to do that & more goes to show the ‘responsible’ hands that Indian film criticism rest in.


  23. Sharmila- Your piece is actually the gold standard…little wonder that Pritish Nandy has been retweeting it.

    I am certain that, despite all the negative criticism now, this Ratnam project is going to stand the test of time and get its due. Heck, it’s his best work in a decade. It surprises me how ‘blind’ everyone’s been to its obvious virtues.

    I was just 3 when Maradona’s Hand of God happened, so I missed out on his prime years. Even otherwise, like most in Indian cities, my initiation into football came by way of satellite television & EPL…so my favourite team earlier was obviously England. But in recent years, the English team is full of overpaid divas. Over the last decade hence, I’ve become a fan of teams like Argentina, Spain and Germany. Never liked the Italians, they play too dull for my taste. And oh…my God has always been Zinedine Zidane!

    On a rather sexist note, nice to know an Indian woman interested in football…beyond the “Oh how hot Cristiano Ronaldo is!” variety.


    • Abzee – Like you, I missed out on Diego’s best years including his hand of god,but happily caught his best at Boca, Barcelona, Napoli and at the 82,86 world cups via recordings which were much hard to get then.The 1994 outing shattered me, I flunked big time in school yet the pain was nowhere close to the 1990 WC final. This Saturday’s game is now all about revenge and I am a nervous wreck already. And yes, that was a rather sexist comment I must say 🙂


    • “I am certain that, despite all the negative criticism now, this Ratnam project is going to stand the test of time and get its due.”

      This is literally what I read about Iruvar once….


    • Agree with you abzee – Mani Ratnams fils generally get awesome reviews about 5 years after theyre released. Google now and you’ll find loads of blogs / articles mentioning that Iruvar was his best, and at that time everyone ripped it apart!


  24. SM- You should most definitely see both the films at the earliest. Don’t let us hype it up too much for you!

    Would love to read your scholarly views on these twin-films. Even otherwise, everything you right is such a pleasure to read. I don’t generally get to comment, but I’ve been vowed by your insights on many previous occasions. A worthy debator to Satyam is there ever was 😉


  25. Finally abzee, I had been waiting a hell of a long time for these. But if you were “late” in your review, I was traveling and hence “late” to this discussion — but not late enough to say this is one of the best pieces I have read on the film. Neither Rathnam nor Abzee have let me down!


  26. Off Topic Rumor:

    That Chetan Bhagat has been wooing Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan to feature in the screen adaptation of his book The 3 Mistakes of My Life which is slated to be directed by Abhishek Kapoor (who’s best known for Rock On!!).


    • Ah, no wonder he wrote that sycophantic ‘Ash-envy’ article in TOI recently. That explains it. Is there any doubt left in anybody’s mind that CB is a total attention-whore?

      I hope AB and ARB don’t do his film. I’m sick of seeing them everywhere.


    • Doga your story was earlier put up here..


  27. Off Topic Rumor:

    New cast for Hera Pheri

    June 30th, 2010

    Producer Firoz Nadiadwala has been planning his next film for some time now and has signed director Anees Bazmee for one of them. His film with Bazmee will be the third part of Hera Pheri. Incidentally this time around, Hera Pheri 3 won’t have the usual three stars Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal.

    Our sources said, “Firozbhai is tired of trying to get the same Hera Pheri team together and he has not been successful so he has now signed on Abhishek Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh and Nana Patekar in the roles of Raju, Shyam and Baburao in the new installment of Hera Pheri. A new character played by Sanay Dutt will also be introduced in the film. Bazmee who has just completed Thank You and started Ready will make Hera Pheri 3 after he completes Ready starring Salman Khan and Asin.”

    It will be interesting to see how this new casts fits into the roles made so famous by Akshay, Suniel and Paresh Rawal.”


    • would love to see abhishek in a comedy..pure comedy..!! infact the last scene in salaam namaste where abhi played d funny doctor is one of my favorites of d movie..!! although in dostana he lacked a bit of dat spunk..but i think he has it in carry off a comic role!! enough d brooding intense guy(altho i like him dat way too) nd serious roles..time to have some fun now..!!


    • I’ve heard this story before also. Sounds like the cast of BM dumbed down! Hope Abhishek doesn’t do this.


  28. IAMTHAT Says:

    Off Topic,
    What does it take to become an Actor ?

    This is a question I am often asked and want to answer it as truthfully as I can

    You must want to be beyond the needs of being accepted as being glamorous and beautiful. Looking for acceptance from other people is to put yourself at the doorstep of unhappiness. Acting is not an indulgence. Do not do it unless the passion is for the art of acting, even if that is expressed through stage, and no matter how small the exposure is – even street theatre. The passion to express stories through the process of acting should be paramount rather than aspiring to live and emulate the lives of the people photographed in the Bombay Times. Do not be led by falsehood. I am presenting to you the answer to the question “what does it take to become an actor” – not what does it take to become a star. For that there are enough people teaching acting in 3 months.

    Acting takes incredible discipline. You body is the instrument through which you express yourself, like a violin is the violinist’s instrument. It takes years of discipline to create mastery over your body and voice. It takes years of introspection and hard work to learn how to use the inherent emotions in you, to be able transfer them seamlessly to your mind and emotion and from there seamlessly to your body and voice. The discipline and ‘riyaz’ of an actor is no less than that of a classical dancer.

    Moments of absolute truth are the most satisfying moments in any art, and the only way you know them, or recognize them, are because you feel closer to something infinite, some power beyond yourself that seems to be in control of your emotions, you body, your heart, your mind.

    Those are the moments to aspire to and just a few in your lifetime will make you a true artist.

    You asked me a a question about the art of acting I assume and not the commerce. The second I know nothing about and do not care to. You go to the Gym, get great pictures taken, discover your best angles, and go to parties to network. Get a six pack or a great body and go to photographers that know how to exploit those assets and then later photo shop them into perfection. Being attractive on the outside may be important , but the ‘art’ of acting is to be attractive on the ‘inside’.


    • this is a good response.. hard to disagree with anything here.. do think that Kapur is defining the ‘star-actor’ much more than the actor when he gets into the body language and so forth. But it’s comprehensive answered. Wonder if Kapur has wondered as much about the authentic director! Because this director once promised a lot lot more than he eventually ended up delivering.


  29. TheSkeptic: Satyam: “Some people I know who liked it were quite mystified as to what was so problematic about the narrative that people had reacted so violently. Well, it is not the narrative that is a problem. People who think this is a boring film are either on a hard drug or need to be!” Well, who are these “some people”? Are they free of all ideology? Maybe they are free of all aesthetics as well?

    TheSkeptic: For Satyam, if a film does well, it caters to mainstream ideology, if it fails it opposes mainstream ideology. Don’t know what “work” ideology is really doing in this sort of argument. It seems perfectly unnecessary, and at the same time neatly encompassing all the messy stuff of storytelling, structure, all the things that people have been battering their heads for centuries trying to figure out, and that Hollywood script-gurus earn millions teaching. Satyam has divined the secret that filmmakers all over the world would sell their souls to know, how to make successful films. Just follow mainstream ideology.

    TheSkeptic: One thing: Saying that Raavan opposed mainstream ideology (presumably for dwelling on a neglected community, minority, repressed India) is not to say anything substantial since points have already been showered on Mani for the same reason. Somehow Satyam contrives to have it both ways: Mani wins with Guru for catering to mainstream ideology and wins again with Raavan for opposing it.


    • Rather puzzled…

      1)How is it possible for anyone to make the claim that I have not spelled out in very specific terms (and expended, to use an archaic metaphor, volumes of ink in the bargain) what I mean by ‘ideology’ in the context of Indian cinema? I think I have made a number of points in all the Raavan threads as well outlining what I think indicates ‘resistance’ to this film. One might choose to disagree with this but arguing that I am using the term nebulously (more or less the implication here) is odd to say the least. As a more general matter though, and this late in the day, does one need to justify using the word ‘ideology’ for what is always operative anyway?

      2)Ideology is always what veils itself to paraphrase at least one standard definition. If one wants to be naive (which is to say post-Kantian) and use the word ‘aesthetics’ provisionally (I don’t have much of a problem here, I often do so myself) then there are two ways in which ideology works — a)the form of the work is that which is most suited for the dominant ideology b)even when the form is unexceptional the overall aesthetic framework achieves a certain match with the same ruling ideology.

      I just used an example which can be reintroduced here. Masala cinema has a certain grammar which is perfectly consonant with the overall aims of this cinema. whether it is to represent more ‘types’ from the high to the low, whether it is to represent a less socially privileged point of view, whether it is to stage various class conflicts or to find a means of illustrating political commentary.. so on and so forth. The aesthetics of the Shammi Kapoor/Rajendra Kumar film will in any case not do here.

      Moving on to a ‘higher’ example you have Godard’s argument that to challenge the entrenched ideology of his age he needed to make films like Breathless. Truffaut disagreed. For him subversion could be better introduced by introducing radical thematic departures while preserving the stability of the ‘classic’ narrative framework (Hollywood or otherwise.. continuity editing or what have you..). This is a debate always worthy of being had. I sometimes tend to fall on one side of it, sometimes the other. But note how both Godard and Truffaut were nonetheless battling what they saw as the dominant ideological framework that was imprisoning cinema in many ways. Today a Zizek plays that role best where from 300 to The Lives of Others he might examine how a film, whatever it is or is not doing at a literal level and where there might be the appearance of subversion even, it is more important to consider what such a film is ‘really’ trying to do. Again ideology.

      I don’t think any of these figures ignore the ‘aesthetic’. But they rightly see aesthetic choices as themselves being the result of ideological ones. It is not coincidental that David Copperfield appeared in the 19th century and Ulysses in the 20th! It is neither so that Beethoven appeared before Schoenberg!

      The idea that a film or any work of art can be looked at in isolation from its ideological concerns is what I would call a ‘naive’ view’. Why have I so often talked about RGV’s ‘fascist cinema’ in the context of Sarkar. Because precisely his visual choices in these works indicate a certain ideological underpinning (which is not exactly a mystery..). One cannot just ‘describe’ his shots, explain the ‘artifice’ in them and call it a day. Why are things just that way in those films?

      Why are so many women nude in films beyond a certain point? why are they more nude than men? An ideological framework that encompasses this ‘choice’ also equally includes others which then form the text of the film. It is not to argue against the seminal nature of many Hollywood films and directors when one also suggests that Hollywood is by and large the most conservative commercial industry around. As a critic famously said, Hollywood is a vast ideological machine designed to create the perfect heterosexual couple! In film after film irrespective of genre and subject the couple is created! This is what ideology is.

      This has nothing to do with the argument over good or bad films, entertaining ones or not. All of that comes about only when the larger ideological apparatus is already in place.

      3)On Guru I think I made quite the opposite point. That it was a more ambiguous work than it seemed but worked because it could be minimally read as conformist. I liked the film and I still do but I didn’t call it the most subversive one imaginable. But I also saw Rathnam’s aim there as representing a certain moment. This does not mean I was endorsing his choices, just reading them for what they were. And within this framework I did see him avoiding certain easy ‘victories’ that he could have had if he was simply pandering.

      On Raavan the rejection of the film indicates precisely the ideological problem that people have with it. It is quite a caricature to suggest that in my view Rathnam is right because Guru worked and also right because Raavan worked. Why not engage with the very specific points so many of us have made here?

      Something as banal as representing the marginalized in not something any of us stressed on particularly. I did not even dwell too long on the Ramayana subversion. I was much more interested in what the movie was doing as a larger ideological operation. I framed it within the context of the recent Maoist events, I talked about the fact that this film does not create the couple audiences were looking for (doesn’t this frustrate people about Abhi-Ash? The ‘perfect couple’ can be accessed off screen but not on it as D2, SR, Raavan attest to.. Guru being the exception.. even here one could argue it is hardly the point of the film to create this couple). I talked about how the Hidni version is very elliptical, how Abhishek’s performance does not allow the audiences an anchor into his earlier ones and so on. The visual choices similarly are not ‘inaccessible’ but the world Rathnam creates is completely ‘elsewhere’ compared to that of every other major Hindi film. I cannot remember the last Hindi film where there was nothing of an urban environment and/or of a stereotypical Norther heartland one. Similarly his narrative choices also destabilize things. I could expand on all of this but ultimately all these choices serve his much larger ideological framework and this is one that is opposed to the lifestyle values and choices of his multiplex audiences in every way imaginable. Just look at what else works!

      Raavan or Dil Se are different from most of what RGV makes. The worldview of Satya or company or even the Sarkar films isn’t really something his audience isn’t ready to embrace. The films are not for everyone because many segments just don’t watch certain genres. The visual grammar can often be forbidding as in the Sarkar films but audiences don’t necessarily have thematic issues with the story. Nishabd is an exception where a genuine risk is taken. Again the visual grammar is hardly inaccessible here but people just don’t like what’s happening and didn’t show up for it in the first place. Rann on the other hand is just banal. Examining each shot here hardly redeems the film. No one is arguing about RGV’s ability to set up a camera or control lighting choices! It’s like Ridley Scott has for many years made the most uninteresting films. His impressive visuals at times can hardly rescue those films. I know Rushdie can write but I want him to write Midnight’s Children or Satanic Verses not Ground Beneath her feet! I see Rushdie’s work over so many years now as similarly conformist. You would probably pick out passages from each of his books and show me how he still can write. But I think that’s missing the forest for the trees.

      The narrativity of cinema should certainly be approached through the visuals (even if most directors don’t do this) but it is still ‘narrativity’. One cannot just assert that it is ‘other’ to telling a story. What does it mean? I find Rann banal. How do RGV’s visual choices here rescue the film from banality? Where is the alternative reading? It’s not enough to just describe what’s happening. I know Godard creates havoc with editing but why? That is the interesting question isn’t it? Surely the lack of continuity editing isn’t an end in itself? We cannot celebrate directors just for being (in the language of painting) good draftsmen! Otherwise how does a worthwhile director ever make a bad film? Surely he or she never forgets how to set up the camera?!

      The alternative idea of approaching cinema in more visceral terms but also be borne out by the work. At the very least it cannot be an apologia for a poor film!

      So there is no ideological formula for successful movie-making. Because the former is just the bedrock on which the latter operates. Once you take care of the former the rest of the conversation begins. But if you destabilize the former there are consequences. I incidentally would not make the same case for Yuva. That film did a lot better than Raavan but did not work otherwise. I would not have the same set of reasons for its failure. Wouldn’t say the same for SR either. Nor JBJ. Nor even D6. It depends on the film. So with D6 the semi-documentary style of film-making that Mehra seems to have chosen for a large part of the film is just not one audiences can swallow. But note no one hated it the way they hated Raavan. Why did one film create hysteria and not the other? The answer is ideological. No one was very troubled by D6’s politics.


  30. TheSkeptic: When push comes to shove, Satyam sacrifices the “pawn” of Aamir himself as a mainstream ideology-caterer. Strange that this critical take did not get much of an airing when paeans were being sung for Ghajini’s revival of masala.


    • It is hard to believe this argument is made in good faith. In particular, TS seems to believe that “masala” and “subversive” are used synonymously. Nothing could be further from the truth: the “masala” format is one that makes certain sorts of subversions possible, and is a proper vehicle for a certain “socially inclusive” ideology. Post-masala manistream Hindi cinema has, if I am understanding Satyam’s claim correctly, abandoned social inclusion (I hate that banal term but let’s use it for ease of reference) as a representational goal in cinema, and hence, quite naturally, sees nohing in the masala form, no “there” there, except for a set of gags, cliches, and nostalgic moments.

      But by itself, “masala” does not imply any particular commitment to any particular ideology of subversion. e.g. it is not the aim of Bachchan’s masala films to undermine the validity of bourgeois values; on the other hand, it is manifestly, if not the aim then certainly the effect, of Bachchan’s masala films to demonstrate that bourgeois values ARE NOT THE ONLY VALUES, that people “like us” are not the only people worthy of complete respect. One might call this “subversion” but this is too general in my book (to the extent someone does think this in itself is subversive, that simply speaks volumes about the narrowness of the prisms currently in place in Bollywood, and about the intolerance of the reigning paradigms). In sum, Ghajini is “masala”, and hence “socially inclusive” in a representational sense in the way that Taare Zameen Par just is not. [Ghajini is not the only one; Wanted, Insaan, and Rakesh Roshan’s films might also be cited]. But Ghajini is not subversive of bourgeois values in the way that Satyam is suggesting Raavan is.

      Stated differently: Ghajini subverts a cinematic paradigm — no more (although that subversion can have non-cinematic implications; indirectly so). Whereas Raavan’s aesthetic — in the sense of formalistic or (here) visuals — subversion is the least of its subversions.* I read satyam to be claiming that Raavan was not rejected because it subverted the dominant cinematic paradigms of its age (in some ways, such as in the sumptuousness of its visuals, its great refinement of technique, its “international quality images” air, it is in fact not subversive of that paradigm at all), but because it subverted SOMETHING ELSE. In fact, the sumptuousness of the visuals and the technical values suggest that it must be something else that has made this film a by-word for bad cinema. This is hardly the opportunistic sacrifice of the aamir “pawn”: masala cinema was designed not to subvert any segment’s values, but to make hegemony (of any segment) impossible (certainly the practicalities of the business dictated this to some extent, but that is beside the point — I am speaking of the effect and end result here). “Masala” cinema was always intended to be crowd-pleasing, and sought to bring in many crowds — that is very different from what we increasingly have: a lot of popular cinema today simply aims to appropriately price the product pitched at a particular segment; and that segment doesn’t seem to even want to “see” others in the same room. Raavan is not in the masala mould, except in that, like masala, it hearkens to an epic vision where things matter (in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, by contrast, not even the death of a spouse ultimately matters all that much; in Singh is King, nothing matters in the slightest); and except that, its representation of people from different walks of life would have seemed less odd 30 years ago.

      *[I am overstating this claim to try and clarify the argument. In fact, there are aesthetic subversions that have been cited by more than one viewer: expectations of linearity confounded; a succession of images from different points in time that to some in the audience seemed confusing; not enough back-story/not much spelled out. The comparison with Ghajini is instructive: that film’s rejection of the dominant cinematic paradigms hearkens to an OLDER paradigm; Raavan’s hearken to a NEWER, or at least to a less familiar (to Indian audiences) paradigm. I am not making a value judgment here, but trying to underscore the difference.]


      • Qalandar, you’re on the money with this longer comment. Wonder how skeptic has been able to miss so much all these years! On Raavan here’s a more precise example of subversion in the film in terms of the physical sites Rathnam chooses — this film actually does not have a central anchoring physical site the way just about any major commercial film does. Here too it is akin to the first half of Dil Se where too the film moves laterally from site to site without ever getting ‘grounded’ anywhere. In Raavan again there is no central ‘controlling’ space. The flashback Priyamani visuals are one kind of village, the ones Vikram goes through in his hunt for Beera are a different kind, there are jungle moments in the film for sure but far more with rocks and perches and cascades and rivers and so on but even these are not consistent in this sense. The final portion introduces a different kind of landscape. Vikram and Ash in their flashback are also located in different settings. This is never a film one gets comfortable with in this sense and by design. There is a physical ‘shape-shifting’ element here which very much parallels the different dimensions of Beera’s character (again in this sense the Hindi seems ‘truer’). A larger argument could be made expanding this point and including certain other films from Rathnam’s auteurist phase. KM for example. Or portions of Iruvar. The point is that physical sites for Rathnam are often ‘expressionist correlates’ meant to evoke a mood more than anything else. He is mostly bound by the subjects and cannot do as much as he wants to in this regard but Raavan is really his exemplary film in this context. To be in Raavan’s world is not to occupy a stable, anchoring, physical site. It is to have a home that is much more protean and impermanent. Which again ties in perfectly with the film’s themes. Because so much of what is being represented here is of the order of the ‘contingent’. Social arrangements, political ones, narrativity, and so on.


        • Incidentally a good book to read as a complement to the point (as I see it) Rathnam is trying to make with respect to the film’s sites is the Hungry Tide (ghosh). Nothing special about the book as a novel but the site is truly unique and gives an otherwise humdrum tale a great deal of special resonance.


      • and again note the distinction between Rathnam and RGV here (since theskeptic loves this contrast). In every one of RGV’s films the physical site on which the narrative takes place is never in doubt. No matter what the film.


    • this is again disappointing coming from theskeptic (but so much else has been on Raavan anyway!).. sometimes when one is too eager to extract things from anywhere and everywhere one forgets to read carefully.. My Ghajini piece had ‘memory palace’ in the title! This choice would be odd for a film seen as an inaugural event! I would urge theskeptic to revisit that piece.. leaving this aside it’s odd to see the short of shenanigan implied here that one would normally expect from certain other types on blogs.


    • People are quick to take these cheap barbs at me but of course ignore all those moments when I surprise such ‘narratives’. For example the other day in response to a Kassam query I listed my favorite Rathnam films and there was not one Abhishek starrer on it!

      And inasmuch as my ‘one thought’ is often the thought of ‘masala’ or of ‘Bachchan’ (the signature) one also refines one position over time as one understands things differently (for better or worse). The insinuation that one is committed to a position and simply makes use of the evidence accordingly is an odd one because this would discredit any kind of thought on anything. Why not engage with what is actually being said instead?!


  31. In Defense of Raavan

    A Positive Take on Mani Ratnam’s Critical Failure

    Mainstream Bollywood movies are loud capers with glamour, glitz, “masala”, lavishly shot music videos, nonsensical plot lines and gorgeous shapely lead actors in Technicolor fabric samples agreed upon as haute couture.

    What we don’t expect and get from Bollywood is reasonable portrayal of or attempts to tackle social, economic, scientific and moral concerns we face in our lives; because, let’s face it bollywood film-makers and stars are severely challenged in terms of subtlety, nuance, rationale, diversity, compassion, critical thinking and intelligence. It’s acceptable to draw inspiration (that word and bollywood) from people and places, news and issues; however it’s immoral to exploit and ridicule what one does not and cannot understand without making a compelling effort to self-educate and empathize. Intellectual laziness, however, is a necessary requisite to step into Bollywood.

    There are obvious exceptions to this; every now and then you have a Sudhir Mishra (Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi), a Vishal Bharadwaj (Maqbool, Makdee, The Blue Umbrella), an Anuraag Kashyap (Dev D, Paanch, Gulaal), an Onir (My Brother Nikhil), an in-form Ram Gopal Varma (Satya, Company, Nishabdh, Naach) who make honest efforts and succeed. Too often, though, you have trashy (Girlfriend, Koi Mil Gaya, Krrish, Love Story 2050, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, U Me Aur Hum, Fanaa etc. etc.) and manipulative (Black, Gadar, Taare Zameen Par, Fashion, Traffic Signal, Fire etc.) photo reels packaged as path-breaking cinema.

    Once in a great while there are movies that truly represent the audacity of a film-maker to strive for something unique; a piece of art that is abstract, captivating, thought-provoking and challenging. No Smoking is a marvelous example of this kind of filmmaking. It took the vision and capacity of Anurag Kashyap to make John Abraham, who normally looks and acts like patio furniture, seem almost human. Being Cyrus with a strong cast, intriguing plot and independent streak is an example of abstract movie making gone horribly wrong.

    And then there is Raavan. A thought experiment about the questionable morality of Ramayan, an artistic expression and interpretation of the epic that almost every Indian has either grown up with or has had it shoved down their throat. It’s Mani Ratnam’s vision and his point of view. It is debatable whether he is successful in executing his vision but there’s no doubt that the movie has generated a strong reaction from the audience. For anyone who isn’t too familiar with Ramayan (foreigners) or is not absolutely enchanted with it (yours truly) have been impressed with the fascinating imagery and character interplay. Those enamored by Ramayan and hold it in high regards in their hearts have been jolted by a direct challenge to the validity of their beliefs and consequently have been highly critical.

    When you first watch Mani Ratnam’s Raavan you are taken aback by the stunning images, beautiful songs and obscure, almost crude, acting histrionics of the cast. Your pupils will expand at the way the cinematographer captures the beauty of the jungle and the transcendent luminosity of the leading lady. You can almost smell the footsteps, the mud and the shrubs. Your ears will pop, may be even bleed at every sound, every song, every shriek. You will get goose bumps as the rain water touches our protagonists’ skin. It is an assault on your senses.

    It is sheer poetry, a painting in motion. I was overwhelmed, not quite impressed, initially. It made me wonder with so many things in his favor why Mani Ratnam wouldn’t show a little more restraint in at least some aspects. Well, because there was no other way to do it. To translate the epic into a movie required the movie to be lyrical, grand and the way to achieve it was to set it up as a theatrical piece like a Grand Opera with heightened emotions, melodrama, exaggerated expressions and visually stimulating backdrop as a prop. A raw manic energy pulsates throughout the movie and haunts you long after it is over.

    And that raw energy is most vividly captured through Abhishek Bachchan’s performance. His Beera is a vigilante leader who is a recluse at heart but craves for love, he is a chronic depressive yet has a child-like innocence and playfulness (check him out staring in the mirror during the ambush scene), he suffers from dissociative personality disorder, maybe he is even bipolar and yet extremely intelligent. Abhishek is a little inconsistent in portraying this complex character; he goes overboard sometimes and the editing and extreme close-ups do interrupt the natural character evolution. He still manages to create a fascinating character.

    Almost a contrast to the frenzied characterization of Beera is a placid yet indignant Dev played by Vikram. He is aloof, insecure, jealous and self-righteous like Lord Ram. The first thing Dev asks Ragini after rescuing her is to undergo an agni-pariksha (a polygraph here) to prove her chastity and fidelity. That was a dicey move by Mani. It directly and unequivocally shows Ram’s insecurity and weakness thus conveying he was not the Maryada-purshottam he was made out to be. Vikram plays it well but the role required a more magnetic actor. He almost gets lost in the bunch of strong supporting actors. Govinda and Priyamani turn up the most engaging performances out of the supporting lot.

    In between the crazy and the subdued is Aishwarya’s Ragini. Fiesty, independent and seemingly fearless at first, she transforms into a vulnerable woman who tries to cover up her fear and empathy for her captor; ultimately showing her loyalty and courage in the face of betrayal all the while exuding grace and poise. She holds the key to the narrative and is the Sutradhar of this play. It is her performance that balances the extremities of Beera and Dev.

    A lot of negative stuff has been said about her performance in the media especially her shouting and shrieking in the initial and the middle part. Anyone who thinks about the situation that Ragini is in might see that part as natural. She is kidnapped by a bunch of tribals, held in a remote jungle and their intent is to almost certainly kill her. What would you do in this situation? If I were ever kidnapped the first thing I would do is try to defend my life and escape while observing the captors behavior and make them feel that you are not an outsider. They were a loud bunch; politely behaving like a Ghunghat clad Sati-Savitri wasn’t going to be of help. She played it perfectly, even showing no fear of death which in turn actually saved her life. As she stays with her captors she becomes vulnerable and develops a connection with them. She still believes a sign of weakness would lead to her death though and to mask it she behaves exactly as she did before. If anyone noticed her shouting and shrieking in the movie, it was more organic at the start and slightly more affected like she is acting or performing later. By then Beera has fallen for her anyways and would not kill her.

    Which brings me to the question of lack of chemistry between Ragini and Beera. I think this was deliberate. Beera does fall in love with Ragini but she does not. She does relate to his tragedy and is compassionate about his situation but she is far too dedicated and invested in her husband to fall for him. Ragini like Sita is the noblest and purest character of all. Aishwarya is an absolute revelation at the end of the movie. By the by the movie should have ended right after her confrontation with Dev when she pulls the chain to stop the train.

    Raavan has its flaws particularly the screenplay, editing and the horrendous background score but it is still a genuine work of art from a master director. It requires patience and contemplation to understand the characters and their motivations. He has not spoon fed the audience and left it up to them to fill the holes in either the characterizations or actions. The intent was to make it like a theater play with situations and flow made up to fit the characters rather than the other way around. Raavan is imperfect but it’s also infectious and it features one of the most iconic and captivating images in Bollywood history –
    Ragini caught up in the tree branches.


  32. Beera does fall in love with Ragini but she does not.

    That’s what I’ve felt, great post.


    • I disagree with that sense though.. her position is much more ambiguous than that I think.. that she starts caring for him cannot be doubted specially by the end.. whether there is ‘love’ on her side is dealt with more ambiguously by Rathnam..


      • She was sympathetic, may be at second half she was ambiguous. I’ve never felt she fell in love. Beera’s character was well explained in that review. Abhishek’s character is more relates to Naxalite , usually they are not very powerful, but lot of intelligence.

        I’ve watched rajneethi, realized how script is important. Those small turns and twists made the people to sit through 3 hours.


  33. Mani Ratnam’s next stars all new comers!

    Mani Ratnam’s ‘Villain’ must have failed to evoke good reactions from the audience, but the director is known for his style and charisma in each of his films. This time however, he has decided on doing a film with all new comers.

    This film is expected to launch actor Karthik’s son Gautham as one amongst the new comers. Karthik who acted in Mani Ratnam’s earlier films like Gharshana (Tamil : Agni Nachchathiram) and Mouna Ragam has recently done a small but decent role in ‘Villain’. The details of the movie are expected to come out soon, and like all other Mani Ratnam’s films, this movie too is expected to be made as a bilingual.



    Jeevcy, I am unsure why you continue to visit this blog if you have such a low opinion of myself or the blog.. while I insist that people not cross the line here and I know most here agree with me I also find it a little strange to see you and some others maintain a certain politeness here (because you’re forced to) but then go ahead and maul the blog elsewhere.. what forces you to keep coming here?

    Those who feel the need to ridicule this blog need not come here at all. While I am not for barring anyone I also refuse to become part of an exercise where first of all not just myself but everyone who comes here is disrespected this way but also this blatant hypocrisy is practiced.

    I must admit I don’t see every comment of everyone who does so elsewhere. But I have spotted stuff from time to time.

    I put up this comment because I will not be as sanguine about this kind of ‘double dealing’ going forward.


    • Satyam – Well, there was a “review” of your review too on Raavan on the same site which was highly distasteful and I have no idea if the author visits your blog. It is actually surprising that people have so much of time to tear another’s opinion down in such an appalling manner. I recall our own marathon debate on AB’s blog that went for days,despite our difference of opinions, what I well and truly enjoyed was the civility. There is no point actually conversing with people who lack civility and it is good you are taking a stand.


      • thanks Sharmila.. had no idea that there was a piece on my piece!


        • mksrooney Says:

          yup i guess it was there.. and i didnt place it as i thought u might dislike or something else will grow from it (any case i thought u might have read it and maintained the silence because we discuss many a other stuff here. )


    • Satyam, you are free to ban me. My reference on that post was to a few posts which were intended to exactly do what I mentioned in the comments. I did not mention it on SS to avoid conflict, as I totally understood if I responded to that here, I would be a definite target by all here. This is easily apparent by the responses you have got below.

      I do not regret anything as I have done no wrong and I don’t need to explain my actions to anyone. As I said, no one is stopping you from banning me.


      • that’s not the only example.. on the rest, no one’s made you a target, you’ve said a lot here.. I don’t buy your ‘excuse’. You know you’re not being honest. But yeah if you’re saying you can’t really ridicule people here as much as you’d like to well you’re quite right! No one’s stopping you from airing disagreements here or elsewhere.


  35. I agree it is a rather cowardly and despicable practice.
    I dont disagreement here is discouraged or frowned upon even if one may at times feel the vast majority share a similar view or philosophy ( even tho this is debatable).
    I abhor the practice of running elsewhere to vent their frustrations or criticisms elsewhere as t smacks of pusillanimity and worse still, underhandedness. One should feel free to disagree or if they find the views here egregious or otherwise intolerable eschew all participation here. And ,feel free to badmouth the blog elsewhere. I also share somewhat similar views to people badmouthing other forums here tho that is a rather infrequent happening.
    I also believe that owners/operators of the respective blog bear some responsibility in making sure this kind of practices are discouraged and to his credit Satyam has held up his end of the bargain pretty well. Sadly, I dont find this being reciprocated and the stand being taken that since this is all a public blog and everything goes. Such attitude ultimately leads to demise of any kind of good faith intended from the other side.


    • The owners/mods of the “other blog” have repeatedly said that they respect both Satyam and Satyamshot, and do not want people to engage in bashing either. They have said this even on the present occasion, though, with the plethora of posts and comments about the Raavan reviews here, they may not have said it on every single occasion.

      But, I, too, wondered why they wasted so much time and energy on ideas and people that they seem to abhor.


      • mksrooney Says:

        “But, I, too, wondered why they wasted so much time and energy on ideas and people that they seem to abhor.”

        i wonder the same.. u echo my thoughts but as usual in very apt manner !

        i am now at ng too.

        but i wonder why both gets mixed up. but i guess thats its democrcacy.. and we have to accept their freedom of speech 🙂


        • Yes, Rooney, I have seen your posts (and comments) at NG.

          But enough. We don’t want to discuss other blogs here. Let’s just stick to the topics under discussion here.


      • “The owners/mods of the “other blog” have repeatedly said that they respect both Satyam and Satyamshot, and do not want people to engage in bashing either.”

        Let me call a spade a spade and say this has not really been visible in their actions. In fact quite the opposite has been practiced fairly consistently and it goes right to the top. It’s not something I just noticed and it’s not limited to this Raavan phase either. I will still urge everyone here not to do the same. That’s another matter.


  36. mksrooney Says:

    jeevcy, my dear friend, i will also say few things..

    i wanted to comment on the issue personally but now that its in open my two cents are-

    i dont think if u type anti ss else helps the matter, what ever ur disagreement with people here u can take them out here.

    u might feel somone is biased (whose not 😉 ) but we can have them settled or debated here and from my recount satyams never hided from it or anyone here.

    also if we can maintain distinction between both places it would be good, let ng be there for ng and let us be @ss for ss.

    why mix them, i have never seen anyone mention about them here , i guess u are a nice friend and understand my pov.



    • ??

      r u sure u are addressing the right person cause i have no idea what u r talking abt?


      • mksrooney Says:

        did u read the above comment from satyam, its has a link and with respect to that.

        i had actually asked u to come here for to read satyams comment, mine is just a supplement !!.. read above yaar 🙂


      • mksrooney Says:

        ah.. finally u got it. i dont want to add anything as thats between satyam and u, thats privity.

        till then continue ur ihls stuff m loving it… and m expecting it to be super hit and catching it tomo. u?? watching it?


  37. Hadn’t he signed up to do the very next film to be made by Mani Ratnam and Anurag Basu, the directors of Raavan and Kites respectively?

    “The Mani Ratnam film is not happening,” Ranbir answered without hesitation. “Mani Sir and I did meet and talk about doing a film together,” he explained. “But no, it’s not happening. I am not doing his next film.” His decision however, had nothing to do with Raavan, as he shrugged, “I haven’t even seen Raavan. How is it?”


    • always tons of such rumors.. and then people wonder why I am skeptical! Ranbir has spoken twice on this, once some months back and once now and both times he denied he was working with Rathnam. Of course the media is now spinning this also. The guy’s clearly saying they met but nothing came out of it. He said more or less the same some months ago.

      of course we know why such rumors carry currency in the first place.. the media loves to stick it to Abhishek! The three films he does with Rathnam in a row don’t mean anything but of course they cannot wait for Rathnam to work with someone else! Same goes for many partisans on blogs. A similar structure obtains for Abhishek’s flops. Usually Sikandar Kher is also a bigger star than Abhishek until of course the latter’s film flops and then it’s an event to rival the moon landing! The same narrative works out for the budgets. So he’s no one except that massive amounts of money are spent on his films. The most recent is the absurd story that KHJJS cost 50-55 crores!


      • As per Ranbir, did he reject Mani’s film?

        For Abhi, I feel raavan is the major setback, not sure how he survives this negativity. I am not confident about KHJJS from images what I’ve seen.


      • quinqart Says:

        i dont understand why evrybody is after abhisek.
        why indian media fails to recognise his talent.this guy clearly is not interested in giving box office hits but he wants to do meaningful cinema like dostana,JBJ,dhoom,drona,KANK.
        AB on twitter says this
        T47 -“Remember people talk behind our backs only because we are ahead of them !!”
        same is the cse wth abhishek.people like SRK and may be hrithik can sense enormous talent this guy has and may be they are using media to bring down abhishek.


    • of course Ranbir’s ‘How is it?’ response to Raavan has to be the query of the year!


  38. agree with everything you say satyam,and the thing is its almost the third week o f raavan but still certain people are only interested in putting,pulling down abhishek and forgeting that every friday sab ki kismat badalti hai,but in abhis case if he looses all hell breaks loose


  39. I don’t think Abhi is more “pulled down” than say SRK during MNIK or Hrithik during Kites, Abhi as a celebrity is quite famous and is expected to hit big time at some point.

    That is,a lot has been expected from him, though he is not in top 5 yet(was there around 2005-06).

    Also he keeps working with lot of the better directors out there, so expectations are valid at certain levels.

    If you see only people pulling down etc are probably fans of other stars etc. Same way if Raavan was hit, wont we be seeing huge celebrations on Abhi’s part.

    You can see how Housefull, Khatta Meetha or We are Family are being made fun of and so on.

    As i said earlier, some people Yawn at MNIK boxoffice and now some make fun of Raavan Essays.

    Obviously those who like/love their fav dont enjoy to see them being pulled down, but isn’t it like a Vicious circle.

    Above all, if one has conviction right(about Star/Movie), i think few words from others cant deter it.

    Make your choice and see through it.

    Taking a higher ground in all this is actually very hard.


  40. satyam,this is the review of your review.


    • hadn’t seen this.. thanks for posting it.. I find it quite entertaining actually.. the author has done quite well here, considering that he lacks an education.


      • mksrooney Says:

        lol.. btw satyam i wont comment on this one and havent till date.. and this particular take aside this guy millinds a good writer.. express himself quite good.. and has written many a interesting things.. u might find his post interesting.. imo


        • I agree about Milind. He is a beautiful writer, and I thought his review of Raavan was very good.


        • I haven’t read anything else by him Rooney.. I was quite sincere though when I said I was entertained by his take on my review.. but I was also quite sincere when I claimed it revealed a certain lack of education in these matters..

          If one disagrees with something one must engage with the thought in it.. whether the ideas are advanced by way of good writing or not is secondary.. but one has to address the thoughts.. it is too common a tendency to not engage because one cannot presumably and take the easy way out and suggest something is a marvel of writing and not thought. Again I am just referring to this piece. Leaving this aside though I am never impressed just by ‘writing’. I have to be impressed by the thought behind it first.

          The review of my review does not offend me at all.. it amuses me.. I do admit I am not politically correct in these matters and call a spade a spade.


          • When I say someone is a good writer, I mean someone with interesting ideas expressed in an interesting way to make a powerful impact. I highly recommend the following piece by Milind:

            It made me rethink my opinion of one film that I have seen (3 Idiots) and made me want to see another film that I wasn’t interested in before (MNIK).

            Mere facility with words never impresses me, if there is no thinking behind it.


          • that piece is fine SM but I was only referring to the one I’d read which was a review of my review.. It’s not that I’m unable to appreciate humor (which is why I called it entertaining) but this cannot become the excuse to not engage with thought. In other words where is the part where he actually engages with the original review? In a nutshell he’s saying like many others that ‘I write well, I seduce people with the writing, which in turn is basically a smokescreen because there is no thought to the piece or the ideas are completely invalid’! I am translating! I wouldn’t have a problem with the last conclusion except that the piece does NOTHING to present that counter-evidence! And again this is fairly common. As I see it there is no split between ‘good writing’ and ‘worthwhile thought’. In other words there are many thinkers who do not know how to write, this hardly makes them poor thinkers. At the same time I don’t think anyone serious could conceive of a writing that was ‘good’ without really offering proper thought. Not just in terms of critical pieces but really anywhere. We read tons of reviews on novels where the claim is that the author can write but it is put at the service of a weak edifice or not a deep enough novel. No one loves poets who can just versify but those who can produce important poetry which is different from versification (much as this might take a certain talent). Subhash Jha’s florid pieces are quite useless in my view. I just see him as a bad writer, not as someone who writes well in the service of ‘nothing’. Because if it’s ‘nothing’ the writer is a ‘bad’ one in my book. But people who do not understand this point tend to (and quite cynically) posit this split between ‘writing’ and ‘thought’. Note again, no one ever argues on the substance!


          • Satyam: “At the same time I don’t think anyone serious could conceive of a writing that was ‘good’ without really offering proper thought.”

            Then I guess you haven’t read too much contemporary “literary fiction” from the U.S. There are vast numbers of MFA graduates out there who have learned “how to write” but not “what” to write.

            As to the review of your review, I have no comments, since I didn’t read it. There were too many riffs on reviews from SS for me to bother, especially when I hadn’t read the original reviews myself.

            BTW, talking of that, Raavan is out of the theater in my town (which itself is something of a trek for me to get to). Now my choice is to watch the pirated dvd (readily available) or wait for the legit dvd. Which do you recommend?


          • I think you should wait for the real thing..


          • “Then I guess you haven’t read too much contemporary “literary fiction” from the U.S. There are vast numbers of MFA graduates out there who have learned “how to write” but not “what” to write.”

            yes but they’re still attempting the literary irrespective of how successful they’re at it or not. Very different from offering a critical piece sans thought!


          • mksrooney Says:

            yup satyam i know u were sincere.. and everthing else u wrote struck a point to me i guess, like for as u said-

            ” In other words where is the part where he actually engages with the original review? ”

            i think i got ur point there and aptly.

            and i know u take humour in ur stride… and on that note i guess there are attempts to sabotage ur lenghty essays by ppl who might be offended from them (just in jest as i m actually commenting something i am against but what i found interesting)


            its something abt video blogging and audio blogging .. m not an expert in the field dude but if this becomes a crze u will have to improve ur voice and god ppl will be saved from ur essays 😉 ..

            wat 🙂

            ps- the above post link of ng is by alibhai

            ps2- everything above in jest with potshots at both sides in fun by me.. as i guess i have recovered from argentine shock :-(…. come on spain!!.. come holland!!


          • “its something abt video blogging and audio blogging .. m not an expert in the field dude but if this becomes a crze u will have to improve ur voice and god ppl will be saved from ur essays ;-)”

            Ha! I’ll save people my voice!


          • Satyam: “I think you should wait for the real thing..”

            So you don’t want me to follow in your “Veer” footsteps? 🙂

            BTW, totally off topic, but you have “The Last Station” in your “Currently Viewing” section. Have you seen it yet? If so, what are your thoughts on it? Maybe you can put that as a separate post.


          • with certain kinds of films I never follow that option! I either end up going to the theater or I wait for a proper release which given Raavan’s box office fate shouldn’t be a long one!

            On Last Station I was quite bored to be honest.. it’s totally banal..

            Check out Disgrace if you haven’t already.. I didn’t quite appreciate it as much as the critics, perhaps because I preferred the book, but it’s worth seeing nonetheless..


          • I liked the drama in the Last station. The politics within the family was probably to my liking 🙂


          • Also saw Jet Li’s Warlords. Netflix says it is Mandarin but the dialogues were in English. It was decent even with all the blood and gore.

            ps: Rajen, your favorite movie RNBDJ is online at Netflix.


          • Harishchandrachi Factory is now available on netflix..


  41. I am not sure whether it is posted already. As usual, IBOS comedy

    Who’s considered a safe mass hero in India?
    A: Akshay Kumar right now. And maybe Salman Khan also.


  42. From the above review…

    >>I cried at the church scene and gave KJo a bow for the most fanatstic scene of the year-the mosque scene!!<<

    I wouldn't take a persons view seriously who didn't cringe at that church scene and laugh at that mosque scene.


  43. mksrooney Says:

    @satyam.. lol (cudnt find reply button there)


  44. Off topic:

    Vishal gets Ash to say, I do. Finally

    By: Subhash K Jha Date: 2010-07-04

    Raavan may have tanked, but that hasn’t stopped the biggest directors in Bollywood from chasing Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The latest to woo is her is Vishal Bhardwaj, for a woman-centric project that is expected to take off in 2011. Ash has even set aside her dates for the project, sources tell us.

    Says a source close to Aishwarya, “Vishal and Aishwarya have a history of misses. “Years ago, she was supposed to do his first directorial venture, Timbucktoo. This year too, she was approached for Saat Khoon Maaf, but she didn’t have the dates and the film eventually went to Priyanka Chopra.”

    The source adds that Bharadwaj was hurt by Ash’s constant refusals, but the actress would repeatedly tell friends that she would love to work with him, dates permitting.

    “Aishwarya had liked the script for Saat Khoon Maaf. But 2010 has been an especially busy year for her, what with five films releasing. Vishal couldn’t wait, and he went to Priyanka Chopra. It happens. Even Prakash Jha’s Raajneeti was first offered to Priyanka Chopra.

    When she couldn’t do it, Katrina got it.”

    Now at a juncture in her career where she craves unconventional roles, the actress is finally set to work with the director on the project, a contemporary romantic subject with an unusual climax.

    Confirming this, Rai-Bachchan said, “Yes, Vishal and I have been meaning to work together for quite some time.

    Things are working out now. He feels I’ve been saying no far too often, but it wasn’t my fault. Things finally are falling into place.”


  45. Come on Aishwarya. Don’t let this one go too.


  46. Awesome quality from Raavanan already on youtube. Love this version


    • oh wow! will check it out…


    • mksrooney Says:

      thnks kassam.. i was indeed interested in this..


    • Awesome, thanks Kassam.


    • I just had a chance to delve into some of this and I’m really impressed by whoever put this together. They either had access to the film’s split track audio or they edited in a rather (largely) seamless way. (Some faint ambient noises lead me to believe it was recorded off a theater)… Either way consider my hat tipped….splendid stuff and no film’s audio deserves this more than this in recent times. This is a vibrant tapestry of audio that Rahman’s made for this film in terms of the score…it might be an instance where I like the score more than the songs…

      Especially have an affinity for the “Veera With Ragini” track from folder 3…


  47. Awesome piece – Some things which I missed as well. My review is posted on


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