Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review of Ravanan

Saw Ravanan yesterday. Not Ravan, but Ravanan , the tamil version. Me and Mani have a love hate relationship. I fell in love with him in my teens after Mouna Ragam and the love blossomed with Nayagan and Agni Natchathiram. And it peaked in Geetanjali. But as I came out of my teens, and as Mani’s staple one liners failed to spring the surprises that it evoked initially, my teenie adoration for Mani got lost somewhere in Manisha’s Pardah and since Bombay, I’ve maintained my distance with this director as he started cashing in on seasonal sensations. In Alai Payudhey, I had some fond memories of yester year Mani but by then I had begun to learn to expect less from him. In Iruvar and Guru ,he came out as a matured director  but that apart he hasn’t done anything good in the past decade. So as I walked in to watch Ravanan, I did not carry the Dickens famed novel “Great expectations” with me.

Ravanan is a take on Ramayan. Good. It is not an exact replica and has its own twists. Still better. But what does it have for us? Le’ts see… Vikram is the modern day Ravan. He is categorised as a Ravan just because he abducts prithviraj’s wife. And Prithviraj is categorised as Ram just because his wife is abducted. ( Guys, Wanna become a modern day Ram? Well, u know what to do! Let your wives get abducted. Two plusses. You become Ram; and you are free from your wife). And Aishwarya is the modern day Sita and again its just because she gets abducted. Other than the abduction, there is no other thing in the characters which resemble the ethical ones. The producers of the movie can run a contest for the audiences and ask them to correctly identify Vikram’s role. Who is he ? A naxalaite, terrorist, a forest smuggler, a robin hood or a plain tribal Rowdy. Because nowhere in the story you get to find out why Vikram has to be chased with so much force by a Superindent of Police. (Cinema has got tired of Inspectors and ACPs even DSPs have lost glamour! Now it is SP , my dear! But I pity the tamil audience; in the previous Prithviraj movie they had to watch him as a chocolate college boy and in this he is an SP and no get-up change whatsoever! ) So all prizes for guessing what is Vikram’s job! Anyway in the two hours of the movie all he does is say some buck buck to Aishwarya, dance , give some strange facial twists ( trying to make up for the lack of twists in screenplay, I guess!) and hurl bombs at police jeeps. And you never know whether he is good or bad. He chops the hand of his sister’s groom just because he ran away from police and he saves Prithviraj who murdered his brother. Atleast in Velu Nayakan’s case only he did not know whether he was good or bad. In this case, no one including Mani knows! Vikram abducts Aishwarya. He harnesses feelings for her but never does anything much except a few ogles. Aish manages well not to cross the lines of an honourable wife and at the same time keep us guessing with her half-eyed looks at Vikram. And Prithviraj and Vikram clash . Karthik plays the Hanuman and the old magic is still there. He appears in just a few scenes but definitely over shadows Prithviraj when he shares screen space with him. His introduction scene is good and it raises a lot of expectations but then, what can Hanuman do when Ram himself is confused to the core! Till Vikram and Prithviraj clash, its Ramayan. From then on its Maniratnamyan ( yarn?!) . Vikram saves Prithviraj. And Aish gets back to Prithviraj. And Prithviraj doubts her. ( I liked that lie detector simile for Agnipravesham; Good one, Mani!)  And Aish gets back to Vikram to find out why her husband doubted her and in the process leads Prithviraj to Vikram’s hideout. And Ravan is demolished by Ram. That’s the story!

Vikram has come up with yet another great performance. Whenever a maverick role is offered to him as in pitamahan or Anniyan, he sizzles and Ravanan is no exception. Aish plays her role well and maintains poise in a cheeky role . She looks too hot with her low cut blouses . A real hot Seetha J. And about Prithviraj, the less said, the better. And listen, all ye folks, whenever a female character has to be raped by many, call Priya mani ( You too , Mani!) . There used to be a time when Satyaraj was called rape Raj. I only hope Priyamani doesn’t get any such prefix. The only humour that I had while watching the movie was that whenever Ranjitha appeared on screen, a section of the audience were calling out Nitayanada’s name. AR Rahman has come out with some great background score . His songs are good but Mani plays them behind his dialogues (Why hire an Oscar winner to play music and then play that song with inaudible volume while your characters rant dialogues? Only Mani can explain). Like all other mani’s movies, the dialogues are sharp. The real hero of the movie is Santosh Sivan and his brilliant camera work. And all shot in India… The way the locales have been selected and the way those have been shot, you’ve got to applaud the technical brilliance.

The final say… like Mani doesn’t know whether ravanan is good or bad , I do not know if the movie is good or bad. Well, if you are after technical brilliance or you are the type who would be floored by Aish’ s eyelashes or cleavages, or if you are the type who would tap your foot for ARR or get excited at Vikram’s bak bak, then, it’s a good movie. If you look for a free flowing screenplay or some original confusion less content, then it’s a bad movie. But I guess, its worth watching once. And the last word… Vikram is Ravan, Prithviraj is Ram, Aish is Sita, Priyamani is Surpanaga, Karthik is Hanuman… well, one great character of Ramayan missing…? Ya , where is Kumbakarn? It is you my dear! As you wait and wait for Ravan to do something extraordinary, Beware of dozing off while watching Ravan!

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