It’s not a review. It’s My View.
I just watched the much awaited Mangnum Opus of the Mani Ratnam . This is the second Mani film I’m watching on the 1st day (1st is Guru) and the 1st film to watch the First Show itself.
Plot: The story is known to all. If you don’t know the epic Ramayan, ask your grandparents. Mani has interpreted the bits and pieces of Aaranya Kaandam and Sundara Kaandam of Ramayanam . As the title says, it’s more about Raavanan and not about Ram. Veera (Vikram), a naxalite abducts Dance Teacher Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), the beautiful wife of Inspector Dev Prakash (Prithviraj) who is transferred to Veera’s area to arrest him. Dev starts his journey in pursuit of Ragini in a forest where Veera is hiding. His intention is to kill Raagini but he falls in love with her boldness and beauty. Karthik, a Forest Officer helps Dev to find Veera. Prabhu is Veera’s brother. Raagini comes to know that the Police Team is the reason behind Veera’s sister Vennila’s (Priya Mani) death. Finally Dev finds Raagini gagged and blindfolded in the forest and leaves the place without Veera. But the twist is in the end. Like Rama suspected Sita’s chastity, Dev too suspects Raagini’s chastity. Unlike Sita, Raagini takes a decision which is the twist in this modern Ramayana.
Every frame and every shot bears the Mani Ratnam Stamp. Santosh Sivan is the real hero of the movie and has done a laudable job. He’s not only the eye but the backbone of the film since the story is a known one. If he’s the hero, the forest and the Adirampalli falls are the two gorgeous heroines. The forest, waterfalls and all the locations are captured excellently by Sivan’s lens. Can’t believe some of the sets which are so real. Especially the hanging bridge and the Ranganathar statue. Performances of the lead actors Aishwarya (with Rohini’s playback), Vikram and Prithviraj are remarkable. Karthik and Prabhu make the movie go with a flow. Rahman’s music is always great support for Mani’s films. The songs are already chartbusters that helped the movie get its anticipation. The final action sequence between Veera and Dev is classic and Mani has to do more than this in his next.
The first Minus is the director Mani Ratnam himself. He has created records in film making. Unless he beats his own records and standards, the film will be an average. Same goes to A.R.Rahman and Vairamuthu. The legends didn’t match to their own previous benchmarks. The relationship between Veera and Raagini fails to make an impact which is the main theme of the movie. The absence of Writer Sujatha is so obvious. Suhasini’s dialogues are very average. The picturization of other songs are also not convincing which is USP of Mani films. Keda kari is quite good with a typical Mani style of song but the temple and the ambience doesn’t gel with Tamil. It suited well for Kata kata in Hindi. My most favorite song “Usure Pogudhe” doesn’t come at the right place. People would die to watch Mani films even if the length is 4 hours. But why have you shortened the length to 2 hours and 7 minutes? So the gap between the songs Kodu potta and keda kari is very less. Costumes are worst though the scope is less. Sabyasachi is keen in exposing Ash’s cleavage than his costumes (Like Manish Malhotra). Especially in Kalvare song. Suhasini would have done better.
We know it’s the story of Ramayan. But almost all the characters being kept referring or indicating unlike Thalapathy. The number “14” is being stressed time and again. 14 minutes, 14 days, 14 years… phew! It’s too much to make Karthik jump over trees. It reaches its peak when karthik says “Vidiya vidiya Ramayanam kettu…”.
On a whole, the movie is watchable despite all the minuses. After all it’s our own Mani’s film. The minuses can be excused for this one man. But certainly it’s not one of Mani’s best.