Film Education

RAAVAN: A film by Mani Ratnam

Raavan: A film by Mani Ratnam

Its difficult to expect every film of a talented filmmaker to be inspired they are human after all but what you question is was the creative process deep enough.

The film did not have a depth and seemed superficial and cliché ridden.

The Character of Raavan:

I feel the problem lay in the characterization of Raavan. The filmmaker wanted to question the concept of evil but in the process did not even reach close to evil to question it. And then to add to it this Raavan was not rooted in any space he seemed to exist in thin air, and therefore not real to cause an impact. He was supposed to be a mix of Raavan and Robinhood, I think this was a film that was tried to be made with the head instead of the heart and worked neither way.

The Actor:

The acting seemed more indicative than deeply felt. There was no inner life happening. There were beautiful possibilities with a character like Raavan, possibilities of  explorations to dive into but neither the screenplay, nor the director nor the actor touched upon those nuances and the film remained at the surface here too. It would be interesting to know what preparation the actor made to become, rather ‘create’ this role. Or what could or should be the possibilities for an actor and how does he go along creating a role like this. What tools does he use, what technique ?  A negative role is always dangerous to play and therefore should be created not become.



29 Comments so far
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Some how I felt this right from Yuva days that Mani Ratnam is over rated. This is a country of mediocres. Films like Housefull, All the best and Golmaal are a hit here. Audience are fed “afeem”, they are not served audio-visual which make them thinking people. Ok, they want “entertainment”. But on what cost. There is serious threat to sensibilities of the people by the kind of films and film makers we have. I have not seen Raavan but somehow I feel Abhishek is a very very ordinary actor and people like him should asses themselves before they think of “acting”. Indian films and Indian Film Industry is becoming like IPL. Matches are fixed but people still fool themselves watching them. Same as the kind of films we are getting. Going this way, we will never be able to make a mark and have a respectful existene as cinema producing country. We consider Sharukhs and Amitabhs as god of acting and films. But unfortunately they too fail to take Indian Cinema anywhere in international arena. God help us.

Comment by nitin

Nitin! nice to hear from you and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your feedback.

Comment by oorvazi

Agreed. The expectations were sky-high. But the film fell short. Was expecting a mind-blowing take on Raavan. Wasn’t impressed much.

And yeah, the acting didn’t help much either.

Comment by Ankit

Thanks so much for the feedback Ankit.

Comment by oorvazi

I watched this film in Telugu which is a dubbed version of Tamil and I really liked it. May be it is Vikram who really gave life to the role of Ravan.

Comment by vanaja

Vanya, thanks so much for your comment. Would like to see the Telegu version with Vikram.

Comment by oorvazi

as usual good insights into the acting oorvazi. AB seems too much like a nice guy to play this role. so wrong casting is also a problem here. never really cared for mani ratnam’s films myself.

Comment by hemant m

Appreciate the feedback, thanks again

Comment by oorvazi

Totally agree with you Oorvazi…the first big mistake is the Casting itself…Abhishek doesn’t have the potential to shoulder such an intense role…he has made it look caricaturish…nor was ash convincing enough in her role.
Second – yeah the script falters…you need to hate ravan to love him…but here the script nor does the actor evoke such feelings. rather you come out hating abhishek!
But i do give credit to Mani sir for some excellently shot scenes…its visually quite beautiful!
And i’m planning to see the telegu version too…ve a feeling Vikram would ve done a better job than abhishek!

Comment by Shweta

Thanks Shweta for sharing your thoughts and your feedback.Its so nice to have all of youll in cyberspace in this discussion of the film Raavan.

Comment by oorvazi

I totally agree with Oorvazi ma’am.

Fluctuating screenplay, weak dialogues, very average performances, cliches & cliches….

However, two most impressive aspect of the film is the breathtaking cinematography by Santosh Sivan and beautiful score by AR Rahman.

Certain shots are going to remain in my mind for a long, long time to come. Raavan is truly a visual treat.

Comment by sowrik

Sowrik, thanks for the feedback and sharing your views. Analyzing a film for a young filmmaker is important and being exposed to the viewpoints of others can open up a new dimension of discovery.

Comment by oorvazi

Very true. The script was very shallow. The less said the better about the acting.There is no point watching the movie only for the visuals. Watch Nat Geo, instead.

Comment by Rasik

Rasik, thanks for your feedback. But frankly I did not find the visuals so stunning either.

Comment by oorvazi

I wish the film should have been dealt as a whole package, because the cinematography is something that is noteworthy.For me, i likes the concept of ramayana being explored but by the third act, i lost all interest and deduced it as a failed attempt.i agree with the fact that the characteristation of Ravana should have been explored.But ya abhishek bachchan does provide an intensity to the character.Overall, the film indeed lacked depth.The film should have dealt with emotions, sita`s dilemma, Ravana love, Ramas call for moral duty !Rather then, pacing scenes with a dramatic over the top climax.

Comment by Anand Jagdish

Anand, thanks for the feedback. Agree the over the top climax was not required.

Comment by oorvazi

maine to dekhaa hi nahi, no budget but Madan Jain ko lenaa chahiye thaa for Raavan. but live action films to fir bhi achi banti hai kabhi kabhi but we suck hardcore in animation films!

par suar ko to gandagi hi achi lagti hai, isliye films like Housefull etc go hit and films like Road to Sangam, Firaaq etc are total flop, why?

something is drastically wrong with entertainment in India, check out the over-acting & hyper-melodramatic & super rigged shows on TV.

Comment by Agastya Kapoor

Agastya, thanks for the feedback
Lest make a difference in cinema and television

Comment by oorvazi

Agastya, can’t agree more…it’s got a lot to do with the attitude…even the filmmakers who make such films are not confident that they CAN make a difference- little or no marketing etc..only exception being Anurag Kashyap & his merry men : do watch “Udaan”!

Comment by Amborish

This was a classic case of the ‘whole’ being less than the sum of the parts. There were many elements such as the cinematography, background score etc which were top notch but did not stack up for the movie. Point on the lack of depth in acting, screenplay depts is well made.
This is Mani Ratnam’s lowest point thus far, by far. Hope he isn’t followin RGV:-)

Comment by Venkat

Venkat, Thanks for the feedback. Agree we expect more from Mani Ratnam and hope the next film is more something he makes for himself so its more true

Comment by oorvazi

Fantastic insights…thought provoking as always! I’m yet to see the film but interestingly, the images and the settings are strongly reminiscent of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, which again had a lot to do with the demarcation of good and evil and how they mingle at times…

Comment by Amborish

Thanks so much Amborish for your kind words. Yes do see the film and comment post that, waiting for your feedback.

Comment by oorvazi

I finally saw Raavan yesterday. I think Abhishek was a total miscast. I could see transparently that he is not able to get into the skin of character. Though concept was really good but Mani Sir could not pull this one off. Another problem which i often see in Indian films is the language inconsistency. The language in which they are talking is a Bihari hindi, which is heavily accented with bhojpuri. But erroneously, all the characters were talking in their own way they wanted. Ravi Kishan was over the top bihari, Abhishek bacchaan and his other brother was struggling to get in it. DSP, nikhil Dwivedi was on some other track. Gulabiya, the hijda played by pankaj tripathi was like one of those hijdas in bandra east. I dont know why such callous attitude toward cinema. I myself is form bihar thats why I could find these differences. They were placing the film in Madhya Pradesh then why are they touching upon bihari accent.

Certain scenes could have been removed. Abhishek bacchaan’s chika–chik-chik-chikaa was giving me goosebumps out of embarrasment. Aishwarya in the end says … bak-bakbakbak….was like she met her long lost childhood friend.

what a waste.

Comment by Nitin

Thanks Nitin for your interesting feedback. Nice to hear from you.

Comment by oorvazi

I chose to see the Tamil version, Ravanan . The feeling was very similar to when I went to see Dil Se after popular reviewers bashed it up. And I loved the film. If the reviewers could not see the beauty and novelty of the story, the locale and the sincere effort by Shahrukh and Manisha, I pitied them. One wise guy actually asked “North East? Where is that?” How dumb!
I cannot agree that the film Raavanan had no depth or that it is not visually spectacular. We are used to being spoon fed with ‘establishing’ the protagonist. Valuable minutes in the first half are wasted in that exercise. Here the non-linear cut ensures that the jigsaw puzzle of his background is put together culminating in the sister’s wedding. Comparing Ratnam’s films to alien concepts and Hollywood films is baseless. His films are rooted in Indian culture and sensibilities.
Raavanan (Veera) begins with the a beautiful Ash in a boat amidst the rushing waters and within minutes the story takes off with her being cruelly kidnapped by Vikram. Then follows her trials in captivity, her efforts to escape and the ‘kind’ ruthlessness of her captors followed by the background of his enmity with her cop husband. The end of the story has a twist which some have misunderstood as showing ‘Sita’ as suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. Far from it. It is her love for her husband that she says what she does. It is a supreme sacrifice. Neither is her husband just a cowardly ‘Ram’ who does not trust his wife. ‘’ He is far more vile than that. Sita’ wonders, ‘Was it your mission to rescue me or to kill Veera? If these nuances escaped most ‘reviewers’ I pity them.
As the makers themselves have declared that this is inspired by the epic, we accept that. True to the original, Ravanan is depicted as a multi -faceted .multi talented (ten-headed) being who can be a terrible enemy or a dear friend. He expresses the conflicts in his mind vocalizing the dan-dana-dan drums playing in his head. Vikram has done a masterly portrayal switching from manic, romantic, brotherly and vengeful without losing touch with his main persona as a dreaded terrorist. He expresses his admiration for the captive woman who is fearless. ‘How can I kill her when she is fearless?’ Her devotion to her husband, his nemesis, wins his admiration. There is a hint of shyness as he proposes to her as he stands in the basket boat which swirls tantalizingly.
Mediocre films and vulgar comedies are being dished out to the audiences every Friday. Maybe that is what they deserve.

Comment by Indu Raman

Indu 🙂
Agree to disagree but are you referring to the Hindi version too, have you seen it?

Comment by oorvazi

No, perhaps I wont ever see the Hindi version. It is claimed that the two versions were taken simultaneously. All those saw Vikram in the lead have given positive views. Indu

Comment by Indu Raman

Maybe Vikram is the difference. But Ash also was as bad or even worse than Abhishek in the Hindi one. Wonder how she has done well in the tamil version.I guess Mani Ratnam writes his script in Tamil and then translates it into Hindi so they get lost in translation. I feel he should either plan to make a hindi or tamil movie at a time. His last 2 attempts at making them simultaneously have failed. And also get rid off the bachchans ASAP.

Comment by Rasik

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