by : Behindwoods review board
Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Priyamani, Prithviraj,
Prabhu, Karthik, Munna, Ranjitha.
A R Rahman
get this straight. Raavanan is not Mani
Ratnam’s attempt to venerate the
epic villain whose name the movie is titled
after. It’s not also a study on
complex human relationships weighed down
by trust, conviction or quandary. It’s
a pure cinematic retreat spanning across
the dense jungles of Southern and Central
India with exceptional cinematography
(Santosh Sivan and
by-now cult songs (A R Rahman) and interesting performances
by its lead actors. And the significance of the movie
appears in the same order mentioned above.
Mani’s conviction of illustrating an unachievable
love story between the two leads (Aishwarya Rai and
Vikram) is palpable from the very start of the movie.
However, the blossoming of love doesn’t quite
form the back bone of Raavanan so much. The movie
digresses into other aspects - a man hunt, flash backs,
revenge drama and so on and so forth. The man hunts
lack dexterity, the revenge drama that is triggered
by the death of Vikram’s sister seems engineered
and Prithviraj often comes across as stiff –
showing unnecessary tautness in the character that
is probably designed to defy emotions (may be because
he is in his Khakis?).
But all that is absolved, as the movie stunningly
unfolds often drenching itself in the monsoonal deluge
making you feel rain-soaked. If you have any doubt
about Mani’s eternal love affair with rain,
Raavanan stands as a remarkable testimony. It rains
in the song sequences, in encounters and in emotional
scenes. And at other instances, the sky is constantly
downcast as if threatening to pour down. And the cinematography
captures it all in delightful exuberance.
For the most part, Vikram owns the movie seizing it
magnificently even from Mani’s own hands. His
love blooms out of astonishment at the outwardly courage
displayed by Aishwarya Rai and he makes those scenes
persuasive for the viewer. He infuses life into the
character and shows no jaggedness, falling for a married
woman thus replicating, probably the characters of
Raavanan. Suhasini’s profound dialogues come
in handy in many places and the viewer is made to
read between lines quite often.
Aishwarya Rai’s semblance of the late Padmini
is unmistakable, it could be her dialogues or the
way she manages her composure attentively even in
the hardest of terrains the character puts her through.
The lady sure has attempted to reach on par with Vikram
in performance in many sequences. Kudos to Mani for
a dignified portrayal of his lead woman. There is
a refreshing strength in Ragini’s character
brought out well by Aishwarya.
Prithvi plays a toughie police officer and somehow
his character portrayal leaves a few questions unanswered:
for instance, his love for Aishwarya Rai is weighed
down by his commitment and that singular fact does
not come across convincingly.
Priyamani plays the ill-fated Vennila and leaves a
lump in your throat. Karthik in his second innings
steals the show. Prabhu and Munna play support roles
that ebb and flow with the movie.
Cinematography by Santosh Sivan is brilliant and has
rendered the perfect support for Mani. His probing
lens takes the audience through the thick jungles,
the mighty waterfalls and the rough terrains of India.
Music and art direction play equally momentous role
in Raavanan as its lead actors. If not for Rahman’s
songs and background score, Vikram’s unrequited
love wouldn’t have been so painful for us. The
songs have already been much debated about and leave
no scope for further discussion. One word though:
it’s not for nothing “Usure Pogude…”
has achieved a cult status. You tend to try hard not
to fall in love but fail with the song as Vikram heaves
a sigh of relief, having seen Aishwarya Rai breathing
and alive after a steep fall.
Sameer Chanda’s art direction complements the
ruggedness and splendid beauty of the nature in the
jungles so well you refuse to believe anything is
A major drawback is the lack of ‘Tamil’
feel in the film and its music; it more appears for
the audience north of Vindhyas in many places. What
Mani loses out is the pace over the later part of
the first half; he gains it back with a major twist
in the climax. Although you have a few questions about
the incidents leading to the finale, those are done
away with - thanks to the elegiac climax.
Watch Raavanan, it’s visually poetic!