When the team from the fabulous 2007 movie Guru come together once again – director Mani Ratnam, Abhishek and Aishwarya – you start looking forward to another fantastic piece of cinema. Atleast I was. And then word comes that its an adaptation of Ramayana – knowing Mani Ratnam’s calibre, it just adds to the expectations - you cant wait to see his take on the epic. But as we saw two weeks back, Indian mythologicals do not lend themselves very easily to adaptation.
(Maybe we should just leave the adaptations to Vishal Bhardwaj and his school of filmmakers)

While a stellar star cast and a great cinematographer might be the strong points of the movie, the lacklustre screenplay is the weakest point – and the reason why the movie disappoints. The script never rises up to a Mani Ratnam level of cinema – it seems more like what a fresh film school graduate might write. We get the fact that SP Dev is Ram, Beera is Raavan and Ragini is Seeta – but we all have read/seen the Ramayana. Where is the thinking that makes it different from the stock Ramayana story ? Where is the magic Mani Ratnam touch ?

The only tinkering the director has made to the story is to add a bit of gray in all the three lead characters. Dev is not always morally upright, Beera has a genuine grievance and Ragini has a change of heart towards Beera. But this little ‘mirch-masala’ is not enough to spice up this otherwise boring story. Some of the literal adaptation is painful – like Dev asking Ragini to take a polygraph test!! There are little deviations here and there – like Govinda’s portrayal of Hanuman – which show flashes of what the movie could have been. But alas, the rest of the story is dull, insipid and boring. Not once in the movie do you sit up and start thinking “wow, this is really interesting”

The focus being on Raavan, Beera’s character gets a lot of screentime initially. The makers attempted to make it a maverick character – which called for a manic unpredictable performance. Unfortunately, Abhishek Bachhan is not up to the job. I found the whole crazy eye movements and the “jhika jhika” talk completely unconvincing and a put off. Vikram, who plays SP Dev comes across more passionate actor – but his role as a hard-as-nails police officer lent him only a few facial expressions to play with. I think he would make a better Beera in the tamil version. Aishwarya does Ragini reasonably well – she doesn’t emote and act all that well yet, but she looks beautiful throughout the movie.

And you do have to marvel at the numerous times she falls/tumbles in the movie. She must have picked up a LOT of bruises while doing the movie.

The litany of complaints just goes on and on. The music of the movie is very un-Rahman like. Meaning it sucked ! Apart from Behne De and Beera, the rest of the songs are bad. And the director insists on shooting only the bad songs in full !! And you might have heard that the visuals of the forests etc are breathtaking and it’s worth watching the movie for it - I didn’t think they were that good in the first place. Also, as wife put it – if beautiful forest scenery is what you want to see, you are better off watching National Geographic. The makers also fail in the detailing. Initially the location is implied to be somewhere in Madhya Pradesh, but then there are Kannada coracle boats used in some scenes. And there is a marriage sequence shown in what appears to be Rajasthan – all the women are dressed in bandhini sarees !

The only positive highlight of the movie I can think of is the climatic fighting sequence on a bridge. Both Abhishek and Vikram show real passion in the fight – and it’s picturised superbly. The ending is the only real deviation from the stock Ramayana story – but even that fails to excite..

Raavan is then a failure on all counts – it’s not engaging, the acting is unconvincing and the music is disappointing. It is not the worst movie on an absolute scale definitely – just that the expectations were raised too high and it failed to meet them spectacularly.

Share this post!

Bookmark and Share