Mani Ratnam is a director who revolutionized Tamil cinema with films like Nayagan, Roja, Bombay and many more. In Hindi, some of his films like Dil Se and Guru are watched and loved even today. So quite obviously, Raavan starring Ratnam’s favorite actor Abhishek Bachchan carries huge expectations. The film adapted from one of India’s greatest epics, the Ramayana, also stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Tamil superstar Vikram, Govinda, Ravi Kissen, Nikhil Diwedi amongst others.
Raavan is an important film for Abhishek, who hasn’t tasted commercial success in a long time (Dostana was a multistarrer). But the film is most important for Reliance Big Pictures, who have invested truck loads of money into this Mani Ratnam film and are yet to recover from the Kites debacle.
The story is one that we all know. Raavan abducts Ram’s wife Sita in Ramayan, here it is Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) who has kidnapped top-cop Dev Pratap Sharma’s (Vikram) wife Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). On his way to rescue his wife, Dev Pratap is helped in the forest by Laksman (Nikhil Diwedi – Laksmana) and officer Sanjeevani Kumar (Govinda – Hanuman).
First the negatives, since there are so many!
- What starts off as a promising film soon turns into a damp squid. Seriously, its hard to believe this is a Mani Ratnam film. The biggest problem with Raavan is the poorly written lead character of Beera. He neither looks menacing, nor does evoke fear. His makeup makes him look more like a buffoon and Abhishek just doesn’t get his dialogue delivery right. And since the focus is entirely on Beera, you never really connect with the film.
- The second half is a torture. Its stretched way too long, the pace is unbelievably slow and the Agnipariksha scene – where Ragini is asked to undergo a Polygraph test (Sach Ka Samna style) would have unanimously won the ‘worst scene of the year’ award, if there was one.
- Also the film makes no sense, the writing is incredibly flawed. There are no twists nor any turns and if you know the story of Ramayana, this film is way too predictable. The whole sequence which was supposedly meant to be a twist – when Ragini actually starts getting emotionally attached to Beera – is poorly written and executed.
- Vikram as Dev Pratap Singh is wasted. He has limited screen time and absolutely no scope for histrionics.
- Vijay Acharya’s dialogues don’t go well with the film.
Three and a half Positives
- The well-choreographed action sequences, especially the fight on the bridge.
- The cinematography – the locales, the jungles, the tough locations the film has been shot in – have been beautifully captured by Santosh Sivan camera.
- AR Rahman’s music is good. Behne De stands out.
- The makeup artists get Aishwarya’s look right and she does well in certain scenes, which ain’t reason enough to watch Raavan.
The performances (in order)
- Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is good in most scenes and looks incredibly beautiful for a lady in her late 30s.
- Vikram gets it right in a short role without much scope.
- Govinda is decent as Sanjeevani Kumar, although looks a little too old for the role. Nikhil Diwedi is good. Priyamani and the rest are wasted.
- But what comes as terribly disappointing is Abhishek Bachchan’s performance. In every single Mani Ratnam film so far, Bachchan Jr has delivered, strangely this time around he doesn’t get it right.
Overall, Raavan is one of the most disappointing films of the year. The opening has been shockingly dull. The occupancy for some of the morning shows were as low as 15 – 20%.
Zero content with a poor opening spells disaster.Rating: