It is 12:50 AM in the morning and I am wide awake. First day, first show – it has taken me 27 years and 12 days to get to it. Thanks to Senthil, Smitha and Raavanan I found that it does have its own aura. Raavanan – the movie was hyped and hooplaaed in almost every channel, website and paper. It was that cliched "talk of the town", "on everyone’s lips". The movie in short was a visual treat and the impact spurs me on at 1 AM to write its review.
Where do I begin and where do I end? What do I talk about first and where do I go next? Right in the first shot on screen which says "A Film by ManiRatnam", the punch is delivered. I don’t know what kind of graphics they did to the visuals but I wouldn’t mind going to that movie again just to see the title reel alone. It was a very impressive, new piece of graphic. Next, "Indha location ellam namma oorla enga irukku" was on everyone’s mind and mouth. Be it the waterfalls, the jungles, the lagoons, the villages or the train tracks – the locales were fresh and breathtakingly beautiful. And then there is the manner of picturing them. Santhosh Sivan has weaved magic with his camera. The shots from the top of the waterfalls, the tall and dense jungles, the lighting used for the painted, masked tribals, the slow shots when Aiswarys falls off the cliff, the shots of Vikram in water, the palli konda perumal in the backwaters, the angles, every frame and every shot was mind blowing. But what stood apart was the cinematography on the hanging bridge – it was way beyond imagination. It cast a spell on every person in the theatre – the hall of babbling Indians became speechless and was just watching – open mouthed, in awe. Even given the already high standards of visuals in a Mani Ratnam movie, this was wonderful. A new high for Indian cinematography.
The music flowed with the movie and the BGM was barely noticeable – that is how a BGM should be. The songs were correctly placed and helped keep up the mood. Music is a whole area of discussion and I will write a separate review for Raavanan music. 🙂 But what deserves so much mention is the slow paced "Kaatu Sirukki" song. The song oozed pure lust on screen. Sheer ARR brilliance!
After Sethu, Pithamagan and Anniyan, I was wondering what else Vikram could do. The actor that he is, he has brought out yet another dimension of his acting prowess. His emotions stood out in every frame. Every inch of him acted. I am not a huge fan of his but from today, I will be. Whether it was the explicit angst that he was showing when his sister was wronged or subtly displaying the lust that was growing in him towards the heroine, the pain or the relief, he aced it all.
When beauty blends with a natural ability to perform, it becomes a force to reckon with. Aiswarya Rai is such a force. She has acted with passion. In almost every frame, she is with Vikram and matches him in performance. Her tamizh was good and I liked her dance too. Right from the first shot where she gets scared on getting kidnapped through the play of multiple emotions – love, hate, worry, belief, fear, suspicion – to the last frame where she fearlessly faces the bullets, she stands apart like a performer of a 100 movies.
Priyamani is impressive. I felt she has started from where she left off in Paruthiveeran. Prithviraj can thank his stars that he got to act with Aiswarya Rai. He too pulls off what is required for his role. Karthik as the forest officer is lively on screen and his humour is never out of place. Prabhu manages yet another nice performance. Munna does a good job.
Brinda’s choreography for "Kodu pota" was different and nice. Stunts were superbly and boldly done. I cannot find words to appreciate the courage of the stunt persons (Peter Hein and one more person) on the hanging bridge and the waterfalls. The dialogues were crisp and in position. I particularly enjoyed the dialogues between Vikram and Aiswarya at the palli konda perumal statue and those of Vikram at the hanging bridge. The humour was decent, enjoyable and gelled with the movie. The costumes were perfect fits. Art was impeccably nice – especially the houses, the villages and the police camps. The glamour quotient was only in Aiswarya’s eyes and in Vikram’s body language.
Like many other ManiRatnam movies, there was not much of a story in it, the film was a play of emotions. Civilization has been on for more than 5000 years and what new story can really be written, I do not know. The plot was based on revenge and the characters and scenes were, no matter how much they deny it, inspired by the epic Ramayana. But it was only a loose adaptation, not a verbatim copy from anywhere.
Finally the maker of it all, the creative genius that is Mani Ratnam. Mani had his stamp all over the movie. Roja was fresh, Mouna Raagam was poetic, Thalapathy was class and Nayagan was fiery. Raavanan is aesthetic. It is a different flower from the bouquet and a new one at that. Mani has skillfully dealt with a plethora of human emotions in Raavanan which is what cinema is all about. He has carefully tread on knife edges and cliff hangers and successfully comes out of it without hurting any sentiments or making any compromises. He has combined the right technology at the right place and time which is sure to create a positive impact on an audience.
A brilliant narration, spectacular performances, stunning visuals and fantastic audio is some of what awaits spectators. Be sure to catch it! 2:21 AM, 19th June 2010.