Raavan - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

It's so confusing when seriousness is dealt with song and dance. Wish the film was advertised as modern Ram Leela performed in a tribal theater. That expectation would have prepped me to deal with the over-dramatization a lot better.

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What is my job as a person who's writing her opinion of a film? To let you know how I liked it and why. Sure. But Raavan made me want to warn you. Warn you that though it is not an exhilarating experience, one might have expected it to be, there is a trick you could use to enjoy the film. Don't think of it as drama, or an engaging take on one serious issue or the other. Think of it as a decently-made musical. An opera.

Almost everything about the film is poetic. Barring a few places, the cinematography and the background music are fabulous. There are a couple of scenes where the camera goes round and round the character with the sole purpose of making the audience's head spin. Other than that though, you can sense the fog, the dew, the breeze around the characters. The mist adds to the lyrical photography.

Similarly, save a few spots, the background music is extremely different and covers a HUGE range of music. My understanding of music is pretty basic, but I loved the use of folk/tribal music. Also, using different types of music for different characters and situations was not only noticeable but rather lovely. How I wish we could get complete OSTs of our films.

But like love can't finance your materialistic needs, a technically beautiful film can contribute only so much to making the film "good". The culprits here are the pace and narrative style of the film. The key word in that previous statement is 'style'. In his attempt to make the tough terrain visually suave, Mani Ratnam forgot the K-I-S-S principle. The montage that the film starts out with is truly breathtaking. Without saying a word, a few situations and characters are established. But, it doesn't remain that smart throughout. In fact, there is a huge slack-off period before the climax-with-great-potential. The dilemma is wonderfully created by a statement that the film is trying to make, "In every Ram there's a Raavan and vice versa." All too sudden and too late.

Nothing is made out of it. Also, there wasn't time left to delve into the details. ow which one was the cause and which one the effect, I do not know. All I know is that I was saddened to see super-gray characters killed because of hollow writing. Given that and the decision to make the film as close to a theatrical performance (hopefully intentional), the cast section should have been titled over-actors. Govinda brings that occasional smile. I never thought the prettiest human, nature must have created, Aishwarya Rai, was any good as an actor. But Abhishek Bachchan films always attracted me towards them. This film has made me reconsider him as an actor. It was uber-annoying to see him stylishly walk like he walked in Bluffmaster.

And despite all of the above, there are times when you are made to think. Especially when compared to the ages-old epic. It occurred to me that the agni pariksha was not only an insult to Sita's honor but also offensive to Raavan's virtuousness. And did Laxman just cut Surpankha's nose, or that was the metaphor we have been conditioned to ignore? Oh, the blasphemy!

While it's pretty neat that the film does give these things to ponder about it also gives as bonus the agony of having to wait even longer for a film I can highly recommend. sigh

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads and loads, a couple of scenes with brutal beating too.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A few making out scenes and reference to rape
  • Concept: Raamayan in Ayodhya of today
  • General Look and Feel: Brown and muddy. Lilting music through the film.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 2.5
  • Lead Actors: 2
  • Character Artists: 2.5
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 3.5
  • Lyrics: 3

Raavan - Movie Details

Raavan - Trailer

Comments (14)

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Rahul:

Despite being at home, this is one movie I don't think I will be watching at the cinemas. There is something special about Abhishek, something so special that I can not stand the sight of him for 10 mins, let alone 2 hours or whatever the run time of this movie is.

My prejudices aside, the reviews so far have been utterly disappointing.

witty jester:

Well i was really upbeat about Ravana,but your review really dimmed my spirits.....Music by A.R Rahman is always fantastic..

Suresh kumar S :

I am awed by the meticulous details you cared to spare . I am thankful that you are took the pains to be point some nice things about the film too . I am impressed on this review . And thanks again for making me want to see the film and giving me a certain warning too . you are a good (great ) writer

Roy DSilva:

Good point about the Surpanaka thing. Didnt want to write it in my review because it will definitely become a cause celebre once the movie becomes a dud and they want something to work on. :)

Pushkaraj:

I agree with all the points that you have written against the movie. I disagree with all the points that you have written in its favour, sorry.
Cinematography does NOT mean picturesque locations! I expected something better from Santosh Sivan. We tried to overcome disappointment by joking that the cameraman must have been shivering in the rain, that's why it was moving so much.
Music was distracting, too much, too often, and too loud. This is the first Rehman movie where not a single number has stays with you.
Maniratnam was always known for accuracy of locations and continuity aspects. Remember Roja. The South Indian village looked like it WAS a South Indian village. Himalay was actually Himalay. Here it goes all over the place. WHERE is the story taking place? The locals have names like Jamuniya and Mahua. I could identify most locations in the Western Ghats. OK, one can always argue that its a story, but at least be consistent in telling it. In between all the lush greenery of W Ghats, the marriage suddenly takes place in what appears to be 100% Madhya Pradesh.
If you have to use CG for special effects, please use them intelligently. You can't show a person falling hundreds of feet into a gorge, (mind you, the camera is NOT zooming down with the victim) and yet the body keeps looking the SAME SIZE!!!
Some silly things could have been avoided. In Ash's dance class at home, there are so many children with their arms spread out, that if they actually start dancing, they would end up slapping each other. In a supposedly pristine setting of what appears to be a jetty-like structure going into the lake, why is there a harmonium on one the walls? OK, she is a dancer, fine. Behind there on the wall, there is a mysterious plastic box which is completely out of place. I suppose the make-up artist forgot his kit there.
Ash gets off a train in lush green mountains, (of course she is not carrying a purse, but none of the Bollywood heroines do, so that's ok.) Then there is a shot of a state transport bus (Maharashtra ST bus, obviously) travelling through a landscape of bone-dry parched mountains, and suddenly, voila! She is walking in lush greenery again!?
Ash falls hundreds of feet over a cliff onto a tree and doesn't break a single bone....Ash is hanging over a wall and pulls herself up with one hand, and NOT A SINGLE MUSCLE of her arm is taut. What did they use as a dummy - Madame Tussaud's wax replica?
I can go on and on, but have to stop here. Maniratnam, Rehman and Santosh have disappointed totally. I never expected anything from the actors anyway.

Roy DSilva:

Well... see... now the movie isnt working and they have already began the controversies like 'sad' editing and stuff. Who knows when they will realise they have a cracker of a controversy about Ram being a gray character and Laxman being.. well.. Laxman.

Amitendra:

I really wanted to see this movie, but looking at reviews posted by others and rating on mirchiplex, I don't think I am ever going to see this movie.

meetu:

@Seema @Mayur there you go, notepad published here

@roy aah that way.

Davis:

I am gonna watch this movie
My cousin really liked it

Lol

Bollyfan:

Sorry Meetu...but my take was more in the so-so range rather than thumbs down. :)

meetu:

@Bollyfan i'll take your word for it. corrected :D

meetu:

@lalli i'm glad you enjoyed the film. For me, it was just about the same.

meetu:

@Kapil I'm glad you watched and enjoyed the film. It was a mind-blowing experience for the senses but not for the brain and that's where the cookie crumbles.

Joydeep:

The movie is a real flop for me...Although they tried to depict the Ramayan in their movie but somehow they missed it somewhere.

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