Raavan is a film much like its inspiration, it hangs somewhere indistinctly between good and bad. This film has such undeniably great moment, you must watch it; but because something doesn’t quite add up it may just fall by the wayside for most.
Beera, played by Abhishek Bachchan, is the Raavan of this story. He is a man living in a remote corner of India, Lal Maati, who has taken on the role of Robin Hood for the lower class by terrorizing the upper class and creating his own law making system. Dev Pratap Sharma, played by Vikram, is not quite Ram, he is much more human and arrives in Lal Maati assuming that the world is distinct shades of black and white. Aishwariya Rai Bachchan essays the role of Ragini, who is a very interesting version of Sita. Unlike the epic Ramayana this is much more a story of these characters and most specifically Raavan and SIta.
Mani Ratnam has a very strong grasp of his story and it shows in the very intriguing writing and the distinguished direction that he lends to it. Unfortunately he spent too much time making Beera seem more human than his primal instincts and thus the balance he was trying to achieve gets muddled in what the audience perceives. Another loss was the acting by the leads. The strongest performance was delivered by Govinda, playing the role of Sanjeevani Kumar or Hanuman. Not only was he the most convincing but it seems his was the only actor and therefore character that understood what was really happening here.
The best part of the story, by far, was the excellent cinematography. Santosh Sivan and V. Manikandan provided some of the best parts of the film through their colorful and distinct vision. The best scenes between the leads are almost only so because of the story arc provided by the visuals. Even though the story gets muddled in poor acting the core of Raavan is in its visuals, direction, and music. AR Rahman’s music paces the film in conjunction with the direction and has a way of being stuck in your head hours later. Each track is blended into the script with the background score so well it seems only natural.
The first two things I distinctly remember wanting to experience again from this movie is the excellent cinematography and the music that movies it forward. If you like films that resonate in the quieter moments, this is a film for you; otherwise it is perhaps better taken in at your own leisurely assessment at home.