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RAAVAN - Movie Review : Mani Ratnam's beautifully shot, weakest movie till date. (Review By Bobby Sing)
18 Jun, 2010 | Movie Reviews / 2010 Releases

‘Mani Ratnam directs his own version of the widely worshipped, great mythological epic, Ramayana.’ The statement alone was enough for alarmingly raising the curiosity levels both within the Industry and among the audience. But honestly, the promos as well as the music had put me in a dilemma. At one end, the movie looked like an abstract beautiful painting with African kind of soundtrack used in its background and at the other it clearly gave some strong signals of having an uninteresting and unfavorable execution.

Sadly, all my fears and doubts got confirmed right in the first hour of witnessing this modernized version of Ramayana, made by one of the greatest directors of Indian Film Industry, Mani Ratnam. In straight words, though RAAVAN undoubtedly remains one of the most magnificently shot movies of Indian Cinema, but at the same time it’s also unexpectedly the weakest movie till date from its reputed director.

Starting straight from the kidnapping sequence, RAAVAN simply announces that it’s more going to be a visual treat for some selected viewers and not a complete entertainer for the masses. The project stands nowhere, when compared to the illustrious list of offerings from Mani Ratnam in the past. The director had everything at his disposal to come up with a brilliant adaptation of the divine scripture. Yet what he delivers is just a well shot version of the famous story which even doesn’t justify every character of the script in the much desired way. In fact a few godly names having a prominent role in the story are just showcased as some un-important people in the script with only a few scenes.

The biggest and the most un-responsible portrayal on the screen is of “Hanuman”, who in reality is the second largest worshipped character of Ramayana in the whole world after Rama & Sita. Very regrettably Mani Ratnam uses the talented Govinda in this role and only makes him jumps over the trees in the jungle as a funny creature. That was indeed not expected from a director of his caliber. Moreover, Govinda is there only for a few scenes and then just vanishes off the screen before the climax just like that. Why the director and his writers conceived this most loved and humble character of the epic in such a way remains questionable?

The other characters which get some real rough treatment are of “Srupnakha” and “Lakshman”. What would be your response if I reveal that in this fictional depiction of the story, Beera’s (Raavan’s) sister (Srupnakha) gets picked up from her marriage venue by Nikhil Driwedi (playing Lakshman), who is the right hand of Dev (A Police Officer playing Ram) and then the girl is raped by him along with other policemen in the Police Station itself. What a brutal way to bring up the “Lakshman-Srupnakha” episode of the Ramayana resulting in “Raavan abduction of Sita”.

Due to this horrifying episode with his sister at the Police Station, Beera kidnaps the Police Offical’s wife Ragini (Aishwarya playing Sita) and keeps her in his hiding for 14 days. And then the Police starts searching for them in the jungle with the help of “Sanjeevni” (Hanuman) played by Govinda. That’s the story as a whole followed by this new age version by Mani Ratnam. Further the movie also incorporates the Agni-Pariksha instance from the Ramayana, when after returning from Beera’s den, Dev asks Ragini to give a Poly Graph test to prove her truth (which looks quite silly and unimpressive).

Coming to the main performances of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Raavan, all the four fall apart and are not able to make an impact of any sort. Vikram playing Ram doesn’t get any good scenes and his character remains the most underwritten one from the prominent four. So there is no Ram kind of impression left on the viewers and Vikram performs just fine in his assigned role. Aishwarya as Sita looks stunning even in her without make up looks which is indeed remarkable from the camera point of view. She tries hard to come up as the best in the movie and also succeeds in her attempt due to the weak projection of her rival character Raavan. But towards the end, the director makes her look confusing when she unexplainably returns to Beera after facing rejection from her Husband. No doubt this particular sequence in the movie was a result of some bad writing. Nikhil Driwedi as Lakshman is energetic and should feel blessed to be chosen by the master himself for a role.

Abhishek as Ravaan is good but that’s it. He is not at all exceptional as projected by all that pre-release hype created by the producers. The deliberately made famous great laughter of his can be found nowhere in the movie. Neither there is any typical dialogue delivery style adapted by him, contrary to the expectations. The madness shown in the posters is just missing. As a result he is not able to leave any terrifying impact on the viewers. He is just a bad man with a good heart in the movie and that’s all. Perhaps that is the main reason why RAAVAN doesn’t match up to its projected levels due to the lackluster portrayal of its lead character.

Another big drawback of this costly venture is its climax. The movie ends up with a simple attack on Beera and he dies without even fighting. The whole sequence of his final killing looks very easy and unconvincing. Moreover the question remains that why now Dev easily accepts his wife post Beera’s death, when she even had returned to Beera after his suspecting act.

On the music front, truly speaking I liked the arrangement part of A. R. Rahman’s music more than his compositions. The melody was only there in few numbers and the best one remains “Kata Kata” track with amazing beats and singing. Main Ratnam seems to have a soft corner for “A Marriage Song” in his movies as this reminded me of a similar song in his “Roja”. Background score is brilliant, aptly matching the gorgeous locations on the screen.

Now about the only best part of the movie which is it’s “Stunning Cinematography”. The green and unexplored locations of a forest range within mountains, is something never seen before on the Indian Screen. The Visual appeal of the movie is simply outstanding and unique. In real terms if you are a student of cinema or of cinematography then the movie has indeed got some textbook material on the subject and it’s a must see for all those interested in its technicality.

But to be realistic, RAAVAN remains a masterpiece only for a tiny section of the viewers who essentially are part of the trade only. Its technical excellence is of least importance for the common man who is mainly looking for some great entertainment in return for his hard earned money. So, go for it only if you are interested in that part of the movie experience and don’t expect anything else this time from the brand name of Mani Ratnam.

Rating : 2 / 5


Tags : Raavan Movie Review By Bobby Sing, Raavan Film Review By Bobby Sing, Movie Review Ravan, Ravan Review at bobbytalkscinema.com, Abhishek Bachhan as Raavan, Maniratnam's Raavan, A. R. Rahman's music in Raavan, New Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Si
18 Jun 2010 / Comments ( 27 )
rohit

a huge disappointment. the movie should have ended immediately after the fight. the remaining portion only leaves negative impact on the characters. this wasn't expected from mani ratnam.

Sanchit Goyal

This was a movie where everything could have gone right. A great director, arguably the best music director, interesting story, An epic to base it upon etc but EVERYTHING WENT WRONG IN THIS ONE.

I was thinking about this movie as PATHETIC till intermission. But after 2nd half I guess POOR would be correct word.
 45 Min into the movie when you start looking at your watch you know something went wrong somewhere.

Agreed with your review but a little suggestion-

Maybe you can write "spoilers ahead" if you decide to give the whole story in the review. I read it after watching the movie but those who havent watched and read it would lose all the interest and suspense (if there is even little bit in the movie.)

Bobby Sing

Yes Sanchit it was really a movie in which everything went wrong except its Cinematography.

And thanks for your suggestion too.

But you may have guessed by now that I am not usually interested in writing about the story of the movie in my review cause a reviewer's job is to write ABOUT the movie but NOT THE STORY. But here I mentioned it due to two reasons :

1. Firstly because since the movie is titled "Raavan" and was also well publicised that it is based on Ramayan so everyone already knew the story before watching it.

2. And secondly and more importantly I wanted to write about how unintelligently and disrespectfully Maniratnam portrayed  HANUMAN and LAKSHMAN in his movie. 

So thats why the Story featured this time in my review otherwise its A STRICLTY NO for me to include it.

Keep Visiting and Writing In......Cheers!

Sanchit Goyal

@ bobby

Completely agreed with you. IMO it would be a shame to call it an adaptation of Ramayana. It seems like some elements of the epic were desperately inserted into the movie to get some free publicity by promoting it as a modern adaptation of Ramayana.

Govinda who could have been a show stopper here shockingly doesn't even have a role to talk about. Mani Ratnam should really explain to people why he wrote such a poor character for someone who was supposed to play "Hanuman" in the adaptation!

Bobby Sing

 Yes Sanchit, that was indeed a disgrace for such wonderful, multi dimentional and great mythological character worshipped by all.

I really coudnt believe it that Mani Ratnam directed this and Govinda and all others in the movie even approved it.

Naresh

I watched this movie in tamil. I got disappointment. :(

Bobby Sing

Yes Naresh, it is really a big disappointing feature from MR.

Manmeet Singh
Bobby Paji.. great review. :) I have read some other posts ... in one of them you commented some awesome movies..

Irreversible, Old Boy and few others can you name a few more. :) I really liked those.. disturbing yet awesome work of art.
Manmeet Singh

I think you should have a bobby top 100 list of movies page here too.

Bobby Sing

Hi Manmeet,
Thanks for your encouragement. But if you need to know more about some great movies then just surf the top section at the right which is about "Movies To See Before You Die".

The movies are divided into different genres in this section like Adventure, Thrillers, Court Room Dramas, Comedies, World Cinema etc. So take your pick from there and have a good time....

Keep Visiting.......Cheers!

Parth N Acharya

I liked the film. I don't think it's possible for anyone to give each character of Ramayan equal importance when you are targeting Raavan's POV. I found Raavan's character well defined. We can call it a Southern version of Ramayan. Raavan is worshiped there and I think, that should be the reason for MR to take this project in hand. I really liked the well portrayed version of Raavan, especially in the last scene when he says, "DIKHA DE DUNIYA KO BHAGVAN KAUN HAI AUR RAKSHAS KAUN?!"

As you said, Vikram's character was underwritten. It could have been better. Aishwarya was stunning as ever.
It's got plenty of things to learn on the technical front. And definitely a visual treat to have. :)

Bobby Sing

Its good you liked it Parth as it did have some elements worth watching.....But still it was not upto the mark of the name of Mani Ratnam.

Keep writing......Cheers!

Bharath

Hi All,

What was publicized was that this story is based on Ramayan. While I myself am a worshipper of Rama and Hanuman, expecting this movie to be based on Ramayana character by character is not just reasonable.

One thing MR could/ should have done is to make two movies, one for North Indian audience and one for South Indian audience. I have seen his 'Thalapathi' which is a loose adaptation of Mahabharata and there are only 3 main characters in that movie namely Karna, Duruyodhana and Arjuna. You know Krishna is missing from the plot.

We have to give director some liberty in scripting the screenplay. I think Raavanan will do well with Tamil audience which is more critical of epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and seem to hero worship negative characters like Karna and Raavana,

I am still looking forward to see Raavanan for Vikram and other cast in Tamil version inspite of reading very negative views of Raavan. Tamil and Hindi audience have two different if not diametrically opposite views.

Bobby Sing

Hi Bharat,

Yes the director has to be given his creative liberty, sure......... but here my only concern is that then why you want to get the publicity by associating it with "Ramayan".

Its very acceptable that you take some references from the epic and make a movie.....thats fine.

But why then you want an extra edge by calling and publicising it as an adaptation and call it "Raavan".

If you dont wish to justify each character of the epic, then just make a project and call it "Beera" ..........but simply dont call it  "Raavan". That clears everything.

Anyway nice to have your comment here and do keep writing.........Cheers! 

Bharath

Bobby,

It's MR's style. I have watched his earlier adaptation of Mahabharata, namely Dhalapathi. As I said earlier, there was no Krishna in that plot. That's why I am able to enjoy the movie free of guilt of associating a movie with an epic. Let's not be purists when it comes to watching movies. Long gone are the days when they used to make historical movies. Raavan is not a historical movie, not a Shakespeare in Love or Macbeth.

BTW, I think to review a movie, we need to put on our thinking hats, because the director does have an idea. If you really want to know what that idea is, please read the blog here. It's not mine, but I thought, the blogger had tried to fathom the director's mind.

http://itwofs.com/milliblog/2010/06/20/raavan-movie-review-hindi-maniratnam/

Bobby Sing

Hi Bharat,

I know MR's style. and I have also watched his Dhalapathi (dubbed in Hindi).

But my only concern is that if you are not following an epic truly then Why you are naming it on the character of that epic...Why dont name it "BEERA" and make it clear to everyone that its not an adaptation in a true sense, thats it. 

And for reviewing a movie, we really dont need to put our thinking hats in the literal sense, because that will entirely take away all the essence of a movie watching experience. And that will be very sad for a true movie lover.

In other words, If a reviewer is going to watch a movie with the only motive to write about it then it will be like declaring that you are more intelligent than the makers........and I think no reviewer can ever declare this kind of thing only sitting on his computer writing a few parahgraphs about the movie. Because even the worst film released also has got a lot of effort, time and money put in by its makers.

The only way a reviewer can prove his worth is to make a movie of his own if given a chance and show his expertise.........But unfortunately not every one gets that chance in his life.

So In reply to your comment I would only like to say that I dont watch a movie with a motive to review it. I simply first watch a new movie as a pure cinema buff excited every Friday morning to see something new and then simply write what I feel about it as a normal person who spends both his time and money on those 3 hours in the theater.

So I wrote about RAAVAN as I felt, and the box office verdict more or less proves my point.

And regarding the Karthik's Miliblog you mentioned, he also mentions the same point I have written here in the start.........

He also says,"If I were to sum up what went wrong in Raavan, it’d perhaps be, ‘Ramayan killed the Raavan star’. In other words, nothing is wrong with Raavan – but the audience’s expectation of it being Ramayan’s retelling is the problem."

And thats exactly what I have said here that if you are not following RAMAYAN then why publicising the movie that way and why calling it "RAAVAN" instead of "BEERA".

It clearly shows that if not Mani Ratnam, but may be producers wanted to cash on the association with the great epic which sadly completely back-fired in the Hindi Version.

CHEERS!

Bharath

Bobby,
Well, I didn't mean to offend your sentiments when I said we need to put our thinking hats on. I meant, the director has wanted to convey something that we should be asking what. It may be director's perception of jow injustice was meted out to Ravana. His sister may have been an unsuccessful temptress, but she did not deserve to have her nose cut off by Lakshmana. Even during Sita's captivity, Ravana could not consummate her, let alone touch her because of Ravana's curse. Mani Rathnam has capitalized on the less well known points of Ramayana and has tried to highlight them in an attempt to tell Ravana's side of the story. I think he aptly named it Raavan/an. He would be at fault if he had named it Ramayana.

Cheers!

Bobby Sing

Sorry Bharat, but you again are missing my main point.

May be you read it wrong in my comment. As you said "He would be at fault if he had named it Ramayana."

I never wanted him to name it "Ramayana", but according to me he should have named it "Beera" and that would have saved it from being looked at as an adaptation.

Thats my only point.

Cheers!

Bharath

Well, if you say so. So you're telling me you only grouse is that he named it Raavan/an. What can I say? 

Bobby Sing

Same feeling here too, ......cause I don't tend to alter my views only because it is directed by Mani Ratnam, who still remains one of my favourite directors.

Cheers!

Sushil

Bharath, the point Bobby is trying to make is crystal clear to others except you (maybe because of the "thinking cap"or "some other cap" you have put on your head ) i.e had he not named it on an epic people would have gone in with an unbiased mind and maybe would have perceived it differently...

Btw the verdict is that it was an ordinary movie....and all these stubborn justifications of "putting on your thinking hat" simply SMACKS of Regional Chauvinism found in a particular state of the country (the director is often flaunted as an icon of supremacy by the chauvinists who just cant accept fair criticism of his work as that would be tantamount to poking at their delusional notion of supremacy)...

I think its time some people took off their "chauvinistic hats" and called a spade a spade, unreasonable stubbornness doesn't equate to "different perception".... don't mean to offend anyone's sentiments but at times one needs to call a spade a spade and a "chauvinistic rant" a "chauvinistic rant"!

@Bobby..kudos to you, your opinions are genuine and unbiased IMO

Bobby Sing

Thanks Sushil for understanding and standing in favour of my point raised.

Keep Visiting and looking forward to more comments from your side. Regards.

 

 

Dinuth87

I watched the tamil version. Even though i didn't like the movie somehow i enjoyed the movie.
First thing is this is a PROPAGANDA movie. This movie is made for southern audience. If i'm right they worship Ravana. But the ramayana is only about Ram.
So this is their answer.

First half is POOR and after that movie is starting to build. lot of people didn't like the ending.But I liked it. People didn't like it because of that ending Ram becomes the bad one. But if i were the director i would give an ending like HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS.(All 3 dead, yeah)

Lot of people think technicality in the movie is best. But i think KITES is better. In cinematography Santhosh has done better job in TERRORIST and ASHOKA.(same tropical view)
I think MANI should do only southern movies. He is good at that.
The reason for box office failure is they didn't understand Nothern indian sentiments.NOT THE BAD STORY. Story is the case then how HOUSEFULL, IHLS, KAMBAKTH ISHQ, ALL THE BEST or even the WAKE UP SID can be successful.

I think VIKRAM has done good job for his role(RAAVAN). Other roles are bad because they tried to build complex characters but it comes out nothing.
In here Sri Lanka people enjoyed the RAAVANA movie because they didn't like the RAMAYAN story because an indian defeated lankan.

Bobby Sing

Thanks Dinuth for your comment. Looking forward to your view on "PEEPLI LIVE" too as I have a different opinion on the movie in contrast to all the high rating reviews.

Cheers!

ramji

North indian only know about sexuality.They cannot understand spirituality. Bollywood destroys that their own nature of north indian peoples.

Raavan is is a spiritual film which is made for this contemporary period and not related in any case with old mythology ramayan. This film proves that our society of india still cannot understand the artistic sense of the contemporary indians. North indians hiding themselves as raavan in the mask of ram.That's natural.
Why are u not accepting this simple thing. If anybody judge raavan then they only going to become a raavan.
This shows the ugly side of india. No journalists and no television media could not able to grasp the artistic sense.

Bobby Sing

Dear Ramji,

At Bobby Talks Cinema, there is neither any North Indian Film nor any South Indian film...........cause here I like to call any film made in India as an Indian Film.
So I think that should explain how painful it is to read your comment.
Secondly a film is judged on many basis, out of which the major two are Novelty and Entertainment which was not there in Raavan.
And almost every film shows the triumph of Truth over Evil or The Victory of Love.
So if seen from that angle then each and every film is Spiritual too.
I hope you would be able to understand the point here.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,
Cheers!
HIS BLESSINGS

 

ramji

Yeah i understand. The indians almost celebrated dasara by making flop this film only for thats,all name titled raavan.
But the film has got good world recognition in terms of awards and also kept in austrian film museum.
Why couldn't our indians enjoy such films. I never seen any film india like raavan which was thrashed by the film critics,media,newspaper within india. They thrashed this film for maniratnam abishek they make this film as a third class crack pot.

At least you had said some good reasons to watch this movie in the end of your review.I expected this film to do well in bollywood like it did in south india also. But unfortunately,it was not happened..For me too this raavan is the great disaster also.

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