Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review – Raavanan / Raavan

My plan was only to watch Raavanan last night. Not only because I would watch Vikram 100x over Abhi but also because from the stills and promos it seemed obvious to me that Vikram would play the role better. Also early reviews suggested that Vikram’s role in the Hindi version was nothing to write home about. Well I can myself now confirm that is indeed the case as I decided to also watch Raavan straight after.

First of all, Raavanan/Raavan is clearly inspired from the Ramayana. Why Mani went around categorically denying this fact is beyond me. Anyway this is a film I had been looking forward to for a long time and I was not disappointed.

The film starts with the kidnap of Ragini by Veera. We are not told why but as the story goes on we are given information here and there to explain what is going on and there is also a flashback. I think this is one of the reasons audiences have complained that the 1st half feels choppy and abrupt. A few people who watched with me also complained that pace was too slow. I did not find it so.

Vikram is outstanding. A very convincing performance. He is very natural and believable as Veera. Very comfortable in his surroundings and as man of the people who is loved, respected and feared. On the other hand, Abhishek stuck out like a sore thumb. His performance was also quite bad, especially when he was playing the role crazily. While Vikram playing crazy didn’t alter too much of his face or eyes or body language, Abhishek would make his eyes widen and his body language would change noticeably like he is putting an act on. (The difference can be clearly seen in the speech to Aish just before Kodu potta/Thode killi song).

When Abhi wasn’t playing crazy Beera, he would be absolutely stone faced while tons of expression and emotions would fleet over Vikram’s face at amazing speed. The first such scene … where he stands recalling Ragini jumping over a cliff in order not to give him the satisfaction of killing her, the expression of admiration in his face is so brilliantly clear. Come abhi’s turn….nothing. He makes a face, no emotion. That’s it.

Aishwarya did quite well, especially since she gets put through hell tied up, eyes covered, drenched with water for a lot of the film. I personally don’t find her a great actress and I think another actress with more spirit would have done a better job but it was fine. She also looked absolutely beautiful throughout.

There are a few scenes that lead Rangini and Veera to come physically close…and Woah, crackling chemistry between Vikram and Aish. Didn’t feel it with Abhi at all.

Prithviraj was very good as Dev, not to mention looked so handsome (never go back to that mustache Prithvi!). He was better in the role than Vikram in the Hindi version. Since we are led to believe that their married life is a happy one, I was surprised with the way Vikram played Dev so unsympathethically, as a stoic, single minded, hard man on a mission to destroy Veera and the kidnap of his wife is just another one on the list of Veera’s bad deeds. Prithvi on the other hand was softer. The scene where he recalls his playful wife, the expression on his face is of loss and sadness…(which I didn’t get from Vikram’s Dev) ofcourse it didn’t stop him from whatever he needs to do including hurting her and others to get to Veera. The train scene between him and Ragini and the climax therefore are harder to bear in the Tamil version.

All other in small parts were good. I prefered Karthik to Govinda as he added a bit more humor to his role.

Cons: I thought there was too much posing for the cameras.Too many pause and click arty shots. Dialogues could have been stronger even if so much was said through eyes, movement and nature…so partly made up for by the absolutely stunning cinematography.

I did feel my favorite of the album Usure pogudhe (Behne De) came too early in the film. Kodu Potta/Thode Khilli (I loved it) and a shorter version of Keda Keda/Kata Kata was ok.

The film could have been a bit longer to include a bit of a back story on Dev and Veera specially.

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