RAAVAN(AN) - AN ANALYSIS
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By Behindwoods Visitor HEMADRI
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Raavan(an) - you have read the review, now read the analysis

In the era of intellectually lazy film making Raavan is a superior modern exploration of psychological interactions. The reason why it has possibly disappointed the masses is because it is not a kidnap-rescue story or a terrorism story (just like Kannathil Muthamitaal was not a story about the Sri Lankan war; like Roja and Dil Se were not about terrorism. Raavan(an) like the rest of Mani Ratnam's stories is about complex human emotional relationships.


The already much praised visual poetry is apparent all the way through, hats off to Santosh Sivan. What is also true is the effort put into every frame by every actor. The physical effort is also very visible all the way through. Having said that, it is out and out a director's movie. I have never believed Aishwarya Rai to be the most beautiful woman (hot - yes; but beautiful?), I always thought Abishek was over-hyped but they have performed exactly to Mani Ratnam's specifications and have done exceedingly well. Vikram's is an award winning performance. AR Rahman is of course a guarantee for a musical feast each time but this will not set the charts ablaze. The flow is indeed slow at times, some situations are contrived but hey, it’s a movie.

Mani Ratnam would have failed himself if he did not give his personal twist to the Tamil Dravidian
version of the Ramayana. For the benefit of those who are unaware or those who have forgotten, the gist of that version (courtesy RS Manohar's Elangeswaran) goes like this - Sita is Ravana's daughter and the destiny is that if they lived together Ravana's entire clan would die; hence Ravana plants Sita in Janaka's gardens to ensure that she grows as a princess that she is; when Sita is living in the forest being constantly attacked by various demons it is to rescue her from a terrible situation that Ravana takes her away - father's love to protect offspring. Perceptions overtake reality, honor overcomes reason and Ravana dies. This is a version that remains unacceptable for most Indians including Tamils.

Using cinematic license with the Dravidian Ramayana threads, Mani Ratnam uses the theme of 'protection' while changing the relationships. Another excellent use of artistic liberty is the reversal of 'Indru poi naalai vaaraai' situation. Bad heroes prevail and good villains perish, makes one wonder if good and evil are really as polarized as we always thought it was.

When the Stockholm syndrome or reverse Stockholm syndrome (Lima syndrome) is denied or portrayed in men or foreigners it would have been acceptable to Indians. But in the case of an Indian married woman and that too a policeman's wife and a forest brigand with its social class differences along with some shades of romance thrown in, is obviously too hot to handle even when implied and anathema when explicit. So understandably the mental resistance to see the film with the usual suspension of disbelief is very high much before the titles are shown. Get over it, grow up and Raavan(an) becomes actually enjoyable.

A particular genre of Indian commercial film making these days consists of uninteresting variations of the formula in which melodramatic metaphorical eunuchs hanker after committed yet confused birds right up to the altar, mistaking their exaggerated puppy crushes for love which is spewed out as a psychotic roller coaster of songs, hyper-hormonal dancing, trashed villains and repeatedly predictable endings in international settings. Well, that is enjoyable too, if one wants to switch off from their busy lives and tune into some mind-free movie viewing. The problem is we are used to doing this too often that when a movie is made like it ought to be made we are losing the ability to recognize it.

If you did not like Raavan(an) and are wondering why it did not rock the box office, look into the mirror and not at Mani Ratnam. Raavan(an) is for grown ups.

HEMADRI
mr.hemadri@gmail.com

Tags : Raavanan, Priyamani, Vikram, Mani Ratnam

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