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Raavan (2010) Bollywood FIlm Review
Dir: Mani Ratnam, 2010, India, 135 mins, Hindi with subtitles
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachan, Chiyaan Vikram, Nikhil Dwedi Ravi Kishan, Govinda
When news stands were abuzz with the announcement that accomplished award winning director Mani Ratnam was set to remake the mythological epic ‘Ramayan’, critics were sceptic as to how he would attempt to give a modern day twist to this prehistoric tale.
The opening sequence sees a police shoot out in various locations around Lal Maati, a rural town in Northern India. When Police Chief Dev’s (Vikram) beautiful wife Ragini (Rai Bachan) is kidnapped by the dreaded Tribal bandit Beera (Bachan), he is hot on his tail with trusted Lieutenant Hemant (Dwivedi). But Beera is one step ahead helped by the tribal locals. Vikram and Hemant seek the help of jolly Forest Guard Sanjeevani (Govinda). As Dev closes in, the wild and dangerous Beera shows that he has a heart and Ragini almost loses hers to his as the cat and mouse chase proceeds.
The religious epic Ramayan has been narrated and interpreted for many centuries, but Ratnam boldly parts with the religious text giving his own modern spin focusing mainly on the personal struggles of the characters. He successfully showcases how Raavan can also be Ram and how greed and power can also turn Ram into Raavan.
Although the screenplay is packed with powerful dialogues intensified by a great cast, the plot becomes somewhat boring and lost during the first half of the film. Ratnam fails to establish the origins of the low cast outlaws as no reference is really made to what they truly stand for. However, Ratnam makes up for this in the second half as he delves into Beera’s background – albeit the reason for Ragini’s abduction leading to a powerful climax and stand off between the two leading characters.
Abhishek is brilliant as Beera. If you were impressed with his award winning performance in Mani Ratnam’s 2004 hit film ‘Yuva’, be prepared to be blown away by his convincing performance. Fearless, he delivers his dialogues with conviction.
Aishwarya Rai equally impresses and successfully conveys the emotion of her character’s plight. Govinda provides welcomed comic relief and succeeds especially as the intensity of the story unfolds. Unfortunately Vikraam doesn’t really shine until towards the climax where he holds his own in the confrontational and fighting sequences.
Ratnam brings to the screen stunning cinematography of rural India. Scenes of Kerala’s dense forests and the dangerous Athirappally Waterfalls form a beautiful backdrop.
Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire maestro A. R Rahman provides the music score and teams up with legendary lyricist Gulzar, producing a truly mesmerising soundtrack.
Mani Ratnam’s subtlety of rebellion of the lower cast against the system could perhaps have been more intensified, but his modern interpretation of a grand epic is a reasonably good effort.
- worth a watch ***