Director: Mani Ratnam
In an interview Mani Ratnam once said, I don’t care about the story. I would be happier if I were to just shoot. What he meant was that, the success of a director lies in manipulating the emotions of the characters and hence the audience with every scene. He meant the director’s scope lies in creating spell-binding scenes. But he failed to bring one more point to the table: without hampering the flow and purpose. A movie can’t be made interesting with just great visuals. How much ever you pan with your camera how much ever emotions you try to extract from the dedicated actors it will remain only two dimensional if there is a dearth of the third angle. The third angle, which not necessarily third in order, is the depth in the screenplay.
When you are going to be faithful to the epic (largely) and are going to just make them travel in time and station them in a remote jungle why not give them real challenges to portray what they are capable off. It can be a nice counter to Dev, as Dev asks Veera where is Ragini, by replying where is my sister. But it makes us wonder, where is the love for his brother, who was brutally murdered? Piling up scene after scene with retaliation in the form of dialogue or action is a format better left for the nether. Do we really need the age old witty lines by a police officer to identify the black sheep? Why resort to literal character depiction like: “look her nose was handled – she is Soorpanaga”, “look he is jumping trees – he is Hanuman”. But when Ragini sees Dev after FOURTEEN days she remarks “is this beard because of me – this is not how you should look - unshaven and unclean”, touching the subtle air of reference to the all clean God. In another scene as we are shown Ragini to be caged in - except from the top, in split second we are shown her to be shouting in wide open space, touching the undermining meaning that, be left out in the open or trapped in a pit, she sure is trapped. As much as this warrants appreciation, like any other Mani film the scene rises above the depth of the written words with the unwritten visuals as she speaks of weakness and tears in open space while she is shown as a brave girl inside the pit, symbolizing that she might actually be screaming inside and yet putting up a brave face in the real world. As the visuals make our mind to interpret that particular scene, a character commands her to stop screaming making us conclude that this is not how it should be understood. This constant battle between the different perceptions of a visual and then submitting to what the visionary had wanted to tell and lap it up; this creative process; is what makes me enjoy a Mani Ratnam film which is nowhere to be found in this 2hrs long movie.
The inception of Raavan being in hindi, I wanted to witness Abhisekh’s Beera first than Vikram’s Veera. Having seen the hindi version, a zillion questions ran in my mind about the director’s approach to the concept and the movie as a whole and that formed my review for Raavan. But after looking at Vikram’s Veera, the mist surrounding (literally too) the movie started to clear and I could understand what an actor can bring to the drawing board. The lamest of scenes in which Beera was hopeless has Veera instill passion and dedication. The climatic battle where Beera/Veera was meant to go berserk (as like many other scenes) Beera ends up as a caricature while Veera nears what we call – a league of ITS own. If that is not a glittering reason, the mere presence and charisma of Veera, the demonic physique is no match for the six footer, Beera. It is for Veera, Ragini and the Navarasa nayagan Karthick and for what they bring as sweet to the ordinary mini meal makes Raavanan a better viewing experience than Raavan.