Raavanan rocks over Raavan

The much awaited film was out and I was more than eager to watch it. Not just because it was directed by Mani Ratnam, but also because it was shot simultaneously in two languages. Moreover, the beauty of Athirapally falls lingered in my mind and I could feel the sound of the waterfalls ringing in my ears whenever I heard the name. And here it is Raavan in Hindi and Raavanan in Tamil. Need not say that I liked the Tamil version. For the first time I watched both the versions on the same day. I would have not done that if it was any other movie, but I wanted to know which is the best and I feel the Tamil version is!

Veera aka Veeraiah, played by Vikram (Raavanan), rules every frame. He’s the backbone of the film. He is intensely loyal to his people and everybody loves him. He has a reason for every action.

Dev Prakash, played by Prithviraj (Rama), is dashing and handsome archetypal hero who is destined to destroy the evil. He’s an encounter specialist with 28 successes to his credit. He loves his wife and his motive is to reach Veera to avenge his wife’s capture. Ragini, played by Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan (Sita), a lovely glamourous doll. She loves her husband and exhibits her loyalty to him throughout the film. Gnana Prakasam, played by Karthik (Hanuman) is one of the few likeable characters. He drinks, jumps around, chatters incessantly, and though obviously belongs to Dev’s side, is absolutely fearless when it comes to meeting Veera on his own home-ground. Singarasu, played by Prabhu (Kumbakarnan) is Veera’s brother, who stands by him through thick and thin. Though he has little screen-space, he portrays the gruff toughie with a heart of gold. His job is to stay by Veera’s side, come what may. Priya Mani, in the role of Surpanaka, lives up to her reputation as she plays Vennila, the betrayed sister and the reason for Veera’s horrible rampage against the police. Mani Ratnam has given a twist to her role by portraying her almost like a heroine, and completely lust-free. Munna plays Sakkarai (Vibeeshanan), a brief role of a peace-maker.

What captures the mind is scintillating cinematography by Santhosh Sivan and V. Manikandan.

Vikram, carries the film on his shoulders, and touches us in the last 10 minutes. The vulnerability in his eyes shows us what he’s capable of, given the chance.

But after both the movies, I felt, we can take a Tamil director out of Tamil Nadu, but Tamil Nadu out of him. Mani Ratnam’s films are about the native culture and it is very difficult to translate them to other languages, especially to touch the hearts of North Indians!

Though many feel Raavan is a villain, there have been works which have portrayed him as the real hero. They have also shown the darker side of Rama, who killed Vaali and asked virtuous Sita to undergo an agni-pariksha! No one forgets that Raavan never seduced Sita. He became bad in the eyes of the world for losing his heart to a married woman. But think for a while, how many have not done that?!

Who had imagined that Sita could have like Raavan? Mani Ratnam visualised it.

Just feel like saying hats off to Aishwarya. This film is one of the most physically challenging roles she ever done in her career, and every time she stumbles through the river, jungle, or jumps off the waterfall, one has to know that she had to shoot the scene twice, once in Tamil and once in Hindi. Just incredible!

Raavanan soars, thanks to Vikram. Abhishek’s Beera, on the other hand, makes the right expressions and sounds, but doesn’t go beyond them. His act doesn’t seem that natural when we see Vikram doing the same role. Vikram’s performance is way way ahead of Abhishek. There is absolutely no room even for comparison. I think Ajay Devgan could have done justice to the role in Hindi.

Maybe I’m not the only one to feel that music appealed to me better in Tamil than in Hindi. “Kattu Sirukki” is hummable in Tamil than “Ranjha Ranjha”,  so is “Keda Keda Kari Aduppula” over “Kata Kata”,  and “Kodu Potta” over “Thok de Killi”.

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