Raavan poster


wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

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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Director: Mani Ratnam
Running time: 140 minutes
Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime
More Movie Info

Raavan - Preview

NOT A REVIEW - Just refraining my excitement lest…

Hope never dies. Since January 2010 - week after week, we have waited for the "most" awaited film of the year so far. Friday after Friday we have been more or less taken aback by how things went wrong with an otherwise sure winner. And yet, this third week of June 2010 too, we wait with bated breath and the enjoy the excitement it brings along.

This once, we can claim, we are fully justified. Mani Ratnam - most of us will claim, he hasn't gone wrong too often. And the look and feel of the film as seen in the promos, don't do anything to keep high expectations at bay.

What with Abhishek Bachchan playing the anti-hero with a turmeric face-pack on.

What with Aishwarya Rai playing her "<most challenging role ever".

She is the one who's pushed, pulled, tied, thrown and put through all such trying situations. And I had to do that. The number of takes & different magnifications, the director would like to shoot in, and that too in both versions (Hindi & Tamil) made the whole procedure very taxing physically.

What with Govinda playing the Hanuman equivalent only his character understands both sides of this battle. Understands that they both are fighting against the same enemy only from opposing sides.

What with the new-age Ram (Vikram) has an ego that makes him ignore the "wrong" means he uses to achieve the right ends.

But then, there is doubt too. While the official site makes enough room for positive anticipation -

The battle between good and evil, between Dev and Beera, between Ram and Raavan. But when the lines dividing good and evil are blurring fast whose side will you take. When hate turns to love and the good starts looking evil, which side will you battle for?

Putting me in a dilemma always works for the film. But, what's scary is what the lady has to say -

She actually discovers an insight into his persona, the truth behind why he has committed this so-called crime

Is this then the regular misunderstood Mr. Crusoe being understood by the lady who has been wronged? And her understanding of the situation actually makes her fall in love with him? shudder

But there is still hope. It could be done in a way that makes it a riveting story, a spectacle. Despite more shudders while you look at the filmi-giri in the promotional trailers. It might just be restricted to the promos, you convince yourself.

Note, like other recent releases, the visuals are more-or-less guaranteed to work. Take a look at the 'ambience' section of the official site

Also, I haven't heard the soundtrack, but looks like it's being absolutely loved by one and all - one, and, all.

Will Vikram be able to do justice to Ram in Hindi while he's playing the title role in Tamil? Is it finally Abhishek's turn for a hit? Is it finally our turn to see a good film? June18th is when we'll know!

~ ~ ~

This article was first published at meetu's Times of India Blog

- meeta, a part of the audience

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

59 reviewers(?) - 15 yays 8 so-so 36 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Stefan S, A Nutshell Review : ...I thought the end result was something clever, boosted by great production values, and slick casting with the Bachchans and Vikram in leading roles.... full review

Thumbs up, bigoye.com : ...Ash’s beauty (sans makeup) and her facial expressions, well presented in close up shots, are quite the highlight of the film.... full review

Thumbs up, Blogeswari : ...The one (word) difference between both the films - VIKRAM. His body language, dialogue delivery is engayo when compared to Sodappal Bachchan. Abhishek Bachchan is really really bad. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Steven Baker, Bolly Spice : ...The texture of the film is drenched in atmosphere, with scene after scene visually stimulating.... full review

Thumbs up, Filmiholic : ...Mr. Govinda Ahuja, for whom I confess I have long carried a torch. He has a smaller but charming role as the tipsy, chatty guard at the forest entrance who is subsumed into Dev’s search party and he delights.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ray Bennett, Hollywood Reporter : ...Vikram cuts a strong figure as the police officer, though in his dark glasses, he often resembles a sinister hard man from a film about a South American dictator.... full review

Thumbs up, by Karthik, Milliblog! : ...There is enough intelligence pumped by Mani into this film but unfortunately the country is very busy trying only to compare it to the epic and being massively disappointed at the so-called literal adaptations.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rachel Saltz, NDTV : ...The real star, though, is Ratnam, a talented visual storyteller who directs action crisply and fills the screen with striking images... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhashish Chakraborty, Passion for Cinema : ...It is a movie more than the sum of its parts for me. It’s not uniformly great. It alternates between being a great movie and a movie with its flaws.... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhijit Mhamunkar, real bollywoood : ...Priyamani playing Beera’s sister, in her brief role manages to bring out the pathos of her unfortunate character.... full review

Thumbs up, by Aseem Chhabra, Rediff : ...wonder what the purists and Hindu fundamentalists will think about the departures of the film from the religious text.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...And then the film manages to confuse the viewer about whose side they’re on; and that’s the film’s foremost triumph.... full review

Thumbs up, by K N Gupta, SmasHits.com : ... 'Raavan' as a cops-and-robbers drama does not really relate much to the epic's characters... full review

Thumbs up, by justjoke, Sulekha : ...the scene where Abhishek Bachchan expresses his love for Aishwarya between the waters is simply superb and for sure there are possibilities of audiences keeping quiet with shock or may freak out raising for applauses.... full review

Thumbs up, by SpiceZee Bureau, Zee News : ...‘Raavan’ is an out and out Abhishek Bachchan film, for the actor eclipses Aishwarya and Vikram to oblivion with his class act... full review

So-So, by Naresh Kumar Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ...Ratnam weaves a telling tale but clutters it up with unnecessary songs and a jarring background score that at times sounds as annoying as the drone of a thousand vuvuzelas.... full review

So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...It’s tempting to think what a better actress, one less prone to dainty posturing, might have accomplished with this character, but Aishwarya, to her credit, at least, doesn’t frustrate you to the extent that her real-life husband does... full review

So-So, by GZP, BollyPlus : ...Abhishek just couldn't carry the role of Raavan. He just wasn't the right choice for this role. Its not convincing at all.... full review

So-So, by Bollyfan, Cinemaa Online : ...30 minutes – Too little, too late... full review

So-So, by Samrat Sharma, fullhyd.com : ...For a film whose point could have been made without relying too literally on the epic, Raavan tries to fill in every known point of the story with a modern equivalent.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Now Running.com : ...The image of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plunging from the heights into a waterfall and getting trapped in a dry tree remains the one visual that surpasses all other recent celluloid mise en scene suggesting a link between nature and vulnerability.... full review

So-So, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ... the film is a string of breath taking images. So much so, you seem to forget -- and almost forgive -- the fact that the first half hardly has any story.... full review

So-So, by Amrita Rajan, Women's web : ... Aishwarya Rai Bachchan screeches until you wonder at Beera’s restraint in keeping his finger off the trigger but is terrific in the moments where she brings Ragini’s dawning self-awareness to the fore. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Amodini Sharma, Amodini's Movie Reviews : ...Ratnam seems to have made the film about good and evil incarnate instead of actual people because he uses characters that seem to have found their primordial roots; they scream, shout and prance around as if possessed. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...The biggest and the most un-responsible portrayal on the screen is of “Hanuman”... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : ...RAAVAN comes with the baggage of humungous expectations, mainly for the one name attached to it: Mani Ratnam. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...AR music is mind-blowing... full review

Thumbs down, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Buzz Tab : ...Mani Ratnam’s direction is good, he excels in well but the main culprit of the failure is script ... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...Ratnam, with his Santosh Sivan and Manikanandan- shot pretty frames (but too many people falling in slow-motion down the same cliff into the same waterfall!), is curiously indifferent to his characters – you feel no sympathy, no tension, no shock, no relief... full review

Thumbs down, by compulsivewriter, Compulsive Writer : ...Abhishek has done a great job, breaking out into maniacal laughter. Govinda is wonderful as the modern day Hanuman... full review

Thumbs down, by Priyanka Sabharwal, Daily Latest News : ...factors that pulled the film down one is keeping the title like Raavan and showing him as a psycho... full review

Thumbs down, desi hits : ...The screenplay and direction of this film make great use of flashbacks. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Aniruddha Guha, DNA : ...An adaptation is always more enjoyable when a maker gives an oft-repeated story a novel spin, and in that respect Mani Ratnam has taken an initiative worth lauding. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanjukta Sharma, Economic Times : ...Visuals convey Ragini’s thoughts in one of the scenes.... full review

Thumbs down, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...It's sad for Abhishek because he was fabulous in Mani Ratnam's earlier flicks YUVA and GURU. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Pritam, Gomolo.in : ...Aishwarya looks beautiful, but the movie didn't require her to look her beautiful self, mostly...so she negotiated for a couple of scenes, where she could strut her designer stuff and exude the glamour look... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...There’s nothing that you eventually learn or realise. Allegory ‘n’ all is fine.... full review

Thumbs down, by Renuka Vyavhare, IMDB : ...made with good intention, beautiful music and mind blowing cinematography but unfortunately lacking everything else! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Mihir Fadnavis, india.com : ...When she's not falling for the umpteenth time on a tree branch, or dancing awkwardly for Vikram, Aishwarya Rai either whines and yelps in a migraine-inducing tone, or stares vacantly, arching her eyebrows curiously... full review

Thumbs down, by Anuj, Indian Auteur : ...plays like a supermarket shelf with a gratuitous variety of products(aesthetic choices) – each of which Ratnam shows off his ability to purchase – but eventually, not taking any one of them home... full review

Thumbs down, Indicine : ...Vijay Acharya’s dialogues don’t go well with the film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Kshitij Mehta, J.A.M : ...negatives outweigh the positives for this one... full review

Thumbs down, by Komal Nahta, koimoi : ...It is not clear why the two writers did not show scenes to very clearly establish why Beera is the enemy of law and what are his illegal activities... full review

Thumbs down, by Abhijit Ranade, MH-31 Fun Unlimited : ...Aishwarya’s power-packed performance is the highlight of this movie... full review

Thumbs down, by Sarita Tanwar, MiD DAY : ...The director's attempt to draw parallels with the Ramayan makes certain situations laughable... full review

Thumbs down, by Partha Pratim, Mixed Bag : ...The scene where Dev decides to give his shaving plan a miss only to be seen completely clean-shaved in the next scene is one of those bad days of less sleep and poor editing by Sreekar Prasad.... full review

Thumbs down, Movie Talkies : ...The character of Beera is built up brilliantly by the director even before he makes his first appearance on screen.... full review

Thumbs down, by Kaushik Chatterjee, No Quarters : ...Then there's the music - each inserted at the most inappropriate moments... full review

Thumbs down, by Ashok Nayak, Now Running.com : ...Aishwarya Rai's performance and beauty, Santosh Sivan's cinematography and the crisp to-the-point dialogues act as the only saving graces of this Mani Ratnam film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sujoy, OneKnightStands.net : ...Raavan is not an epic by any stretch of imagination... full review

Thumbs down, by Padmaja Thakore, Passion for Cinema : ...The start of the film Raavan, the first ten minutes, zaps you with its superb look, inspired editing and brisk pace. If only the rest of the film could match it! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Great Bong, Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind : ...Screaming even higher than she had done in the entire movie, she let loose—-”Wait ….wait… that’s not the Director is it? Oh my God…….. it’s actually Mareech in disguise? Oh no ! Ramu —-is that you?” There was no response. Just the silence of an empty hall.... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...sloppily swaps antagonist with protagonist, and ends up giving an earnest Bachchan far too much scenery to chew in far too much spotlight. Oh yeah, this new Raavan is clearly Mani Ratnam Ki Aag.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters : ...there is no urgency to the search it seems, because he has all the time in the world to stop at villages and ask for people’s opinions on Beera, to read maps and even to shave. You never get the feeling that he wants to find his wife.... full review

Thumbs down, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...She brings out the layers of her character and is particularly graceful in the song Khili khili where she enchants you with her classical dancing.... full review

Thumbs down, by K K Rai, STARDUST : ...It is strange that Abhishek Bachmann, who plays the main character in the film and has such a terrific chemistry with director Mani Ratnam, fails to deliver in the role of an anti-hero... full review

Thumbs down, by Nedumangadan, Sulekha : ...This Ravan doesn't have even one head... full review

Thumbs down, by Idea, The Idea-smithy : ...As a vision, the idea of telling Ramayan from Raavan's point of view is interesting but it didn't carry through in the execution.... full review

Thumbs down, by filmbear, Upper Stall : ...Abhishek Bachchan gives it a lot of energy but is undone by the lack of a focus script and poor support performances. Govinda and Ravi Kisan are much too over the top as well.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

4 readers - 0 yays 3 so-so 1 nays

So-So, by karnika : movie was good, it has a base but some time doesnot sucess,,

So-So, by Pure Muscle Pro Reviews

So-So, by simple ideas : Pierrefitte-Sur-Seine

Nay! Thumbs Down, by sports trophies

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

A police officer, Dev (Vikram) known for his finesse at getting hold of law-breakers offends the local Robin Hood, Beera (Abhishek Bachchan). The latter kidnaps Dev's wife, Ragini (Aishwarya Rai) as revenge only to be mesmerized by her bravery.

What Worked

  • The editing in the opening sequence.
  • Introducing shots of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - you could sense her claustrophobia
  • The irony in the rappelling scene
  • Some of the Beera and Ragini's reactions to the way they were feeling. Insightful and well expressed.
  • Ragini's strong character - she gets respect and even the worse and most merciless of men cannot hit her
  • The choreography. Very earthy and fresh. Performed with all vigor and the dancers were enjoying their work
  • What did not

    Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

    • Background score used for Sanjeevani's (Govinda's) scenes, especially in his first scene.
    • Some of the close-ups of the flora and fauna looked like you are watching Nat Geo
    • The farce that Sanjeevani hears something in the jungle.
    • The romanticization of a kidnapping
    • Where did the fire come from after the "rapelling" scene?
    • Abhishek's sharp silhouette - way too on-the-face
    • The vuvuzela-like background music in some of the scenes.
    • The attempt to create chemistry between Beera and Ragini
    • Ragini jumping into a valley, getting stuck on a branch as if she was practicing her dance moves while she was falling.
    • The way beautiful pieces of screenplay - Beera giving way to his emotions; Jamuniya (Priyamani) reliving her horrors; the awesome extended climax - is let down by some god-awful melo-dramatization.
    • Various continuity jerks - aishwarya's make-up, Vikram's stubble, etc
    • Lame dialogues referencing Ramayan, especially the references to the number 14

    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):

    Lead Actors:
    Character Artists:
    Music Director:

    Raavan - Cast, crew, links

    Background Score:
    Action Choreography:
    Music Director:
    Costume Designer:
    Running time:
    140 minutes

    Comments (14)

    Click here for new comment

    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.

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

    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

    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. :)

    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.

    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.

    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.

    @Seema @Mayur there you go, notepad published here

    @roy aah that way.

    I am gonna watch this movie
    My cousin really liked it


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

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

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

    @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.

    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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