Jun 17 2010

Coming Soon – Raavanan

Published by at 10:34 pm under Preview,Tamil Cinema


It was evident even as 2010 started that it was gonna be a great year for Tamil movie fans. With films from all the top actors and several noted directors in the pipeline, film buffs settled in for a wonderful year ahead. They haven’t been disappointed so far as a parade of event movies with big-name heroes and/or top directors have reached the screens at regular intervals. Almost halfway through the year, its finally time for a real biggie as Raavanan hits the screens.

A Mani Rathnam film is always cause for celebration for movie fans. The director’s filmography is dotted with several classics(Naayagan, Iruvar, Mouna Raagam) and near-classics(Kannathil Muthamittaal, Bombay)and even the few films that don’t fall into those slots are several steps above the average Tamil movie. His films have been a bit weaker ever since his target audience expanded from Tamil Nadu to the whole of India but they were still quality films. Its been 6 years since his last straight Tamil film Aaydha Ezhuthu and there’s no doubt that Raavanan is eagerly looked forward to.

Mani Rathnam has had experience in tackling epics since his Thalapathy was a none-too-subtle retelling of the Mahabharatha(with only the ending altered to fit the standings of its stars). This time around, as the title implies, he has taken on the Ramayana. The Ramayana is a simpler, more straightforward story with fewer characters who are also easier to categorize as good and bad but Mani has made things more interesting by electing to focus on the villain of the piece. His musings about there being “a Ram inside every Raavan and a Raavan within every man” suggests that he will be exploring the different shades of the characters. That should add some interesting dynamics to the relations in the story and everybody will be curious to see how Mani handles them.

Vikram plays ‘Raavanan’ in the Tamil version and ‘Ram’ in the Hindi version. The last few years haven’t been good to him. He has had only 2 releases in the last 2 years and both those films, Bheema and Kandhasamy, took a long time to hit the screens and proved to be completely undeserving of the pre-release hype when they were released. But Manirathnam has illustrated his trust in the actor’s talent in no small terms. Being cast in two different roles in the two versions is no mean feat and the fact that he has managed this in a film by Manirathnam, who has a reputation for extracting the best from his actors, speaks volumes about his talent. I’m not a big fan of Aishwarya Rai but its undeniable that her presence lends any movie a huge amoung of buzz. Her ‘Sita’ is understandably a complicated character and lets hope she carries it off. Prithviraj plays ‘Ram’ in Tamil while Priyamani plays ‘Surpanaka’ in both versions. Karthik and Prabhu, who clashed against each other in Mani’s Agni Natchathiram are also back. While the former plays ‘Hanuman’, the latter plays a member in Vikram’s gang.

Considering the quality of previous Mani-ARR soundtracks, the Raavanan album is a bit of a disappointment.  Usure Pogudhe… is the standout though Karthik’s singing and Vairamuthu’s lyrics make more of an impact than Rahman’s tune. The same is true of Kalvare Kalvare…, where Shreya Goshal takes the song to another level with her silken smooth voice. Veera Veera… does its job of describing a he-man while Kodu Pottaa…, barring the orchestration with its tribal music touches, sounds like another of those group introduction songs. Kaattu Chirukki… has some energetic singing by Shankar Mahadevan and Anuradha Sriram while Keda Keda Kari… is similar to Kodu Poattaa….

Its been a long wait for Raavanan. But considering the team behind the film, we can be quite hopeful that it will be worth the wait…

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Coming Soon – Raavanan”

  1. bart says:

    Saw 1st day 1st show. All I can say is, Mani is a fish out of water or rather cat in the river (Movie is drenched throughout). Shallow characters in an unconvenient set up (non-urban) for Mani.. Ranks right below at 14 or even 15! Let me wait for ur comments.

  2. Balaji says:

    Prin, Srivatsan & others, deleted your comments by mistake when I was clearing the spam comments. My apologies…

  3. Have already seen it twice, and each time I tried to concentrated hard to see whether Mani had something going on underneath that I couldn’t figure out. But, alas, it is just a normal movie after all. From any other director this would be a good movie, but coming from Mani Rathnam I felt sorely underwhelmed.This is probably the least plot/characterization Rathnam has delivered since Thiruda Thiruda. Suhasini’s dialogues are cringeworthy, I felt literally like laughing at the lines she had written, that too for a Rathnam movie. Vikram’s performance carries the movie, but this is standard fare for him, it is not one of the WOW performances we wanted. But after Bheema and Kanthasamy, this is a return to form. Aishwarya Rai is the only realized character in the movie.

    I will probably post a full review in my blog, but definitely his most disappointing movie yet.

  4. Lavanya says:

    Caught the Tamil version today and I must say it is a disappointment. It is a well-shot movie but just doesnt strike a chord at all. Prabhu and Karthik do extremely well despite the poorly etched roles. Vikram is good, Prithviraj is ok but Aishwarya, as usual, looks awesome and acts badly. Eager to see your assessment of the movie Balaji.

  5. Vimal says:

    just saw Raavanan…it was OUTSTANDING…easily Mani’s best since Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)….the only big flaw is that it doesn’t really show what Vikram does, just that he’s wanted by the law, but then again, neither did Thalapathi…other than that in works on every level (concept, direction, dialogues, score, acting, visuals, pacing, etc.) ….i can’t vouch for the hindi version but i’m sure it pales in comparison…Vikram was amazing and Aish, Prabhu, Karthik and Prithvi were all good….b/w 3.5 and 4 stars for me….best tamil movie of 2010 so far (followed by Tamizh Padam at #2 and VTV at #3)

    here’s my revised rankings w/ Raavanan:

    1. Kannathil Muthamittal
    2. Iruvar
    3. Bombay
    4. Mouna Raagam
    5. Nayakan
    6. Geethanjali
    7. Roja
    8. Raavanan
    9. Thalapathi
    10. Thiruda Thiruda
    11. Ayudha Ezhuthu/Yuva
    12. Anjali
    13. Dil Se
    14. Agni Natchathiram
    15. Guru
    16. Alai Payuthey

    Also, i know my positive review will get some flak…but it should be noted that the American publications that reviewed the inevitably inferior hindi version all gave it good reviews…..so perhaps it’s my American sensibilities that allowed me to appreciate it!..lol

  6. Prin says:

    No worries.

    A brilliant film with so much deeper thoughts explored (Baradwaj Rangan has an awesome write up on Raavan, please check out).

    The film probably lies only second to VTV this year and is probably a shade off Mani’s usual classics but still the impact remained strong and nothing insults your intelligence – the criticism – especially for the Hindi version – seems totally unjust, especiallly those from critics who lapped up Rajneeti!

    Probably another mid place on your list I feel maybe 6/7. How many “stars”?

  7. To me this is the best of Mani even better than my all time favorite Mouna Ragam.

    I can understand why this movie is getting diagonally opposite views from people. This is more of a cerebral movie where you need to concentrate and understand each and every nuance… Be it a facial gesture, slight camera angle shift, a gradual background score change etc. While in a theater audience will not be tuned to seeing all these intricacies. An average viewer usually wants a “in the face” explanation of what the director wants to say.

    But if you are like me who cares little for the other variety and like the nuances, you would love Ravanan.

  8. killer says:

    it’s fine if you’re celebrating, but please don’t project your views onto “movie fans”! i felt rather sad, because i like vikram a lot and it’s been years since he’s made a movie that i could stomach watching. the many negative reviews, even from fans of mr, have encouraged me not to waste my time.

  9. skandadeva2 says:

    Looks like “Raavan” has tanked at the north indian boxoffice and even “Raavanan” does well, it may not recover the entire cost of production. hopefully Mani makes a comeback into tamil and make a more true to his style. Lots of people do not understand the movie, and i’m not very good at reading between the reels. I go for a movie, to get fully entertained not to go there and analyze every single scene, facial expression of the actors, to gauge the story. Is Mani sir presenting us a movie or some sort of case study here?

  10. Shane Bond says:

    My problem was not with the nuances or deeper meaning of
    gestures etc. I had a huge problem with the basic premise
    of the movie.

    How can Mani expect us to believe that Veera can fall in love
    barely a week after his sister dying in such a tragic fashion?
    Veera just sits around doing nothing after burning four police
    officers in the very first scene.

  11. Sandya says:

    Clearly, Raavanan is really meant only for people who wish to see it in a higher plane. It’s not one of those, the-characters-are-who-they-really-are-and-say-what-they-really-think kinda film. If you get past your biases in that area, you can surely lap up Raavanan very early in its running time. The film tests your devoutness to Mani’s brand of filmmaking and demands you to forget all that you have been familiar with. Out with poignance, nuanced storytelling and in with unpredictable, shaky visual displays. Personally thought, this was the very first time, Aishwarya, actually acted in as many years and shouldered the tough burden of keeping up with Vikram in several scenes. Finally, we got to see the ‘real’ actress that was hiding inside of her.

    Enough has been said about the cinematography and I cannot reiterate it enough. Not to be missed on the big screen! :) I thought the background score was phenomenal as well. No surprise, I suppose! :) Cumulatively, a film I would love to see again on the big screen! :)

  12. pseudonym says:

    Movie was pretty ordinary…..I don’t understand what reviewers like baradwaj rangan see in this….

  13. sivapragasam says:

    I fail to understand Vikram’s character, is he suppose to be ruthless, kind hearted, loving, his character tends to oscilates a lot. He falls in love with Aiswary rai, neglecting the purpose of the war, why is Vikram is after Pritiviraj as if he is the one who raped his sister, tat would have been an intresting twist.

  14. bart says:

    Bb, its getting late. Pls come out with your thots :) I’m kind of surprised that even brangan and a few bbthotsians are in strong support of this badly written movie. In short, “building strongu aana basement weaku” movie… A very long mail awaits to be written though detailing my likes and issues with the movie.

  15. Prin says:

    Bart, I don’t necessary think this is even “building strongu aana basement weaku” – maybe we can leave that to films like Asal or Kanthaswamy. :)

    The film is so beautifully layered.

  16. Arun says:

    Somehow i think santosh sivan must have directed this movie as it only speaks about his visuals and less of anything else. Looks like the film was some sort of a movie designed to attract tourist to india to check out thier beutiful landscapes. Well it worked if that was the idea, coz do not see anything else worth watching here…

  17. casino says:

    While watching “Raavana”, i know there is something is missing here, and clearly point it out is due to the weak main characters. I know Vikram is a confused character who does not know whether he he is good or bad, But aiswary rai is totally lost, one moment she wants to be with vikram and other time runs back into her husband’s arm, the leaves him and goes back to Vikram. There is no logic behind her actions. Pritiviraj plays it out straight, but i wish that his motive going after Vikram is stronger. Do not feel the excitement at all when they finally met at the bridge. Also at the end of it,is this film a revenge drama?, love story ? or an action flick?