He rehashed the Mahabharata, narrated MGR-Karunanidhi kadhai, Ambani ki kahani in his style. The next obvious story is the other big epic. A narration of a story as intense as this one requires the coordinated efforts of the cast and technicians. Maniratnam has managed to extract the best out of them but has he managed to convey his story well? Read on.
'Cheeyyan' Veeraiyya, the local demon/don/ Asuran kidnaps Police officer 'Prithviraj' Dev's wife 'Ulaga azhagi' Ragini vowing to kill her in 14 hours. But Ragini ends up being in captivity for 14 days 'coz he falls in love with her. Dev follows Veera, they kill each other's men, shout 'Veeera'
'S Peeee' alternately, a whole lot of dishoom, dishoom, kaadhal-modhal and ya, you guys know the climax by now.
Pak Pak kaandam
You do see a lot of Pithamagan in Veera especially the 'Pak Pak' bit but this man is terrific. Fab performance. Aishwarya Rai owes big time to Rohini, her dubbing artiste. Aishwarya Rai's Hindi dialogue delivery p$%^&* me off but what a total transformation in Tamizh! If 'Ice' is bearable in Raavanan, its purely because of Rohini.
Chalakkudi -Ooty-Matheran Kaandam
I want to take a holiday, NOW to the forests of Raavanan. A lot of effort has gone into choosing the right locations, erecting sets, rain effect, lighting etc. And filming a bilingual, getting the right shots in both versions would have been quite a task. Hats off to the production team!
Ok, this is not A R Rahman's best but like most ARR albums this one too grew on me. Usure Poguthey and Veera are my favourite tracks. Wish I had more of the former in terms of picturization. Does ARR owe some money to the likes of Benny Dayal and Anuradha 'Keechu kural' Sriram ? Why use people like them for songs that sound super duper in Hindi with the renditions of Sukhwinder and Rekha Bharadwaj?
V Manikandan and Santosh Sivan take the film to a different league. I am usually not for 'Look-at-me-I-am-the-cinematographer' kind of compositions but I shall make some exceptions for technicians like Mani(kandan) and Santosh. The look is very 'Kulu Kulu' to the eyes and that's what keeps you hooked to the film perhaps.
The big 'Dasavatharam Ranganathar' like statue and the temple somewhere in the middle of the forest in the 'Kodu poatta' song are very 'set'ty but Art Director Samir Chandha has managed to make the village look natural.
The 'Sundar' part of the Raavanan is Prithviraj wasted as Aishwarya Rai's brother..sorry husband.
John Vijay as Inspector Hemanth and Prabhu as Veera's brother are just apt for their parts. Prabhu of late is doing nice and cute roles (Ayan).. I like . Pretty Priya 'Soorpanagai' mani - why don't our Kollywoood directors in other films cast her more often in decent roles like this one? She is good.
Ranjitha of Nithayananda fame comes in exactly 3 1/2 scenes and her screen time is for about a minute or so. What a waste!
Aishwarya Rai's costumes are terrible. Those Anarkali type gowns, brassier-instead-of-blouse with a saree are ugggh.. Ada-chi to Sabyasachi.
Aishwarya Rai herself looks like a kezhavi and honestly her no-makeup scenes scare you. No jokes. Watch out for this scene where she speaks to Veera playing with kids. Kezhadu tattiduthu paattti-kku.
Karthik as Gnanapragasam didn't work for me. His 'vazha vazha kuzha kuzha' dialogue delivery
and over the top antics were pretty annoying. Shut up and go back to whatever party you were/are a part of, Karthik!
These bilingual things don't really work at times you know. Like for example, locations. 'Raavan' Beera's house [somewhere up Vindhyas] has these white coloured walls with these North Indian type temples around. The Tamizh version has obviously been filmed in the same locations. And hence there is a huge mismatch 'coz here is Vikram and gang speaking 'Enna leee, unna leeee' dancing outside temples that look like this
The next biggest compromise is on music. ARR to me is God! Like I said before I listen to Usure Poguthey atleast 10 times a day. But satisfying both Hindi and Tamizh audiences with the same kind of music is not possible. Some songs that sound fantastic in Hindi don't have the same kind of impact in Tamizh and vice versa.
Mani-Sir, Nikhil Dwivedi who plays Hemanth in Raavan gets beginning credits but not John Vijay who essays the same role in Tamizh. Why?
Ok pa, you guys are remaking Ramayanam.The whole world and its Rams and Sitas are aware of it. Why do you have to force these references to the epic, like Karthik jumping around like Hanuman talking about Sanjeevani, Ragini in captivity for '14' days, Hemanth's dialogue about Mookaruthufying Priyamani etc?
The director failed to convince me on Veera's love for Ragini. There is no depth in the relationship between Veera and Ragini. One would have connected with the film better had this been scripted better.
Raavanan -vs- Raavan
The one (word) difference between both the films - VIKRAM. His body language, dialogue delivery is engayo when compared to Sodappal Bachchan. Abhishek Bachchan is really really bad. If Vikram is Phd, Abhishek Bachchan is 10th fail, copy adichUM. Don't even go near the Hindi version. You will hate it.
Mani Sir, I know there's more moolah in Bollywood. But, could we please have one Agmark Kollywood padam from you with no Abhishek Bachchan, his wife and the likes? Graamathu accent, Asura type psycho characters work very well in Tamizh. Hindi audiences are not used to 'bhaiyya' protagonists, village belles, village fairs etc. That's very Bhojpuri , B-Grade Hindi for them. So let's not attempt something that we are not familiar with please?
Having said all that, the film worked for me because
-> It is tight, narrated to the point with no unwanted stuff [item numbers, comedy track etc.] and keeps you intact in your seat for those two hours and some minutes. This is an achievement in itself considering this becoming a rarity these days.
-> The last Vikram film I liked was Saamy after Sethu and Dhool. Cheeyaan is back with Raavanan. Honest and very very good performance. I liked.
-> Santosh 'God' Sivan and V Manikandan.
Raavanan - Ramayanam reloaded - 4 out of 5