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Mani Ratnam has always chosen to thread his films around situations, characters and incidents that are part of our lives or beliefs. Perhaps, that is what makes them as fascinating as they turn out to be. In the last 20 years or so, there are perhaps only 2-3 Mani Ratnam films that have not been inspired by real life personalities, incidents or mythology. They are Thiruda Thiruda, Alai Paayuthe and Ayutha Ezhuthu. Of course, Ayutha Ezhuthu did have a lot of social relevance and drew a lot from the political scenario of our country. But, it was still primarily a work of fiction. If so, even Dil Se and Roja can be said to be works of fiction rather than being inspired from the psyche of a terrorist and hostage and his wife respectively.

But, the fact remains that Mani Ratnam hardly ever constructs films that cannot be related to our lives and beliefs at some level. Some of his best works have come, while drawing inspiration from real life. Nayagan, inspired from the life of Varadaraja Mudaliar is arguably the finest Mani Ratnam film ever. There has however been gossip or talk that Mani Ratnam himself considers Iruvar to be his best work and the source of Iruvar’s inspiration is no secret to anyone in Tamil Nadu.
Gurukanth Desai was an adaptation of one of the greatest businessmen modern India has seen, the one we experienced in Guru.

The best part of Mani Ratnam adaptations of real life incidents and personalities is that he does not take sides. He chooses neither to glorify nor run down the subject of his inspiration. He shows them – strengths, weaknesses, perfections, flaws and all. We saw this in Guru, Iruvar, and Nayagan. Mani Ratnam was always willing to project his protagonist as just a normal human being who could go wrong and that is what sets him apart as a film maker. His protagonist is as likely to be greedy, corrupt and unscrupulous as he is to be benevolent and righteous. Even when he portrayed a love story in Alai Payudhe he chose to show not just the mushy and romantic part, he depicted what can go wrong even with a newly married couple. He does not paint rosy pictures of life, he shows it, warts and all, which is why we connect to it. The only film in the recent past where his protagonists were absolutely squeaky clean characters is Aayudha Ezhuthu and most of you will admit that it was one of his lesser effective films.

Even more interesting is his adaptation of the great Indian epics. How he adapted a segment of the Mahabharatha to make Thalapathi is well known. Now, he gets ready to reveal his take on the other great Indian epic, the Ramayana. Though he has not admitted it openly (he seldom does, even with Guru he never said that it was based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani), we can gauge from the title and trailers what it is all about. Now, how has he chosen to depict some of the most revered character in Indian mythology?

That he has chosen to adapt the Ramayana and named the movie Raavanan is proof enough of his guts. This is definitely bound to be a different perspective of the Ramayana, one that delves deeper into the psyche of the 10 headed asura who has captured the imagination of many people. In fact, there exist a few views which say that Raavanan was in fact one of the most multi-faceted personalities in the Ramayana. An Asura who was a Brahman by birth, a great scholar, musician and one who had acquired a boon from Lord Brahma and the divine sword (Chandrahas) from Lord Shiva himself.

Perhaps, Raavanan is a film that goes along this perspective, a film that will bring out the lesser known perspective of Raavanan. It did require a film maker of Mani Ratnam’s caliber and courage to go in for such a daring interpretation of an epic so deeply ingrained into the Indian psyche.

Is our guess right? Let’s wait and see.
Tags : Raavanan, Vikram, Aishwarya Rai, Mani Ratnam, AR Rahman, Prithviraj, Priyamani, Karthik, Prabhu
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