Mani Rathnam’s magnum-opus Raavan hit the screens two days ago and I hit the plush chairs at PVR to catch it up on a drizzly Saturday afternoon. In hindsight, maybe I should’ve hit the sack and rested those wearisome muscles rather than risk a jaw-ache from all those yawns! Coz it wasn’t as high and mighty as its made out to be.
“Old wine – new bottle” is passé! Old wine, re-distilled (read re-interpreted) and served up in rustic yet beautiful khullads is the new mantra. Vishal Bhardwaj did it with Omkara. Prakash Jha did it with Rajneeti and now Mani does the same with Raavan.
Beera (Abhishek Bachchan) is the scourge/saviour of a fictitious place Laal Maati. He’s the son of the soil, who rights the wrongs of the law enforcement officers by killing them or burning them at a stake! Locals deify him and none dare defy him. SP Dev Pratap Sharma (Vikram) is the man set out to hunt him down, at any cost. The hunt becomes a personal one when his wife Raagini (Aishwarya Rai) is kidnapped by Beera and held hostage. The age-old good vs. evil struggle commences amidst the backdrop of jungles, waterfalls, caves, canyons and sleepwatching audiences!
Firstly, why the place is named Laal Maati is beyond me. Given there’s not as much as a sand dune but acres and acres of jungle, humungous waterfalls, ravenous canyons and caves, black rocky cliffs with an idol of Shiva atop and also what looked like a poor-man’s Angkor Vat in between! Agreed, the locales and picturesque and breathtaking but it scarcely looks like North India. It rains almost throughout the movie (Kerala?); there’s a huge river & a huger waterfall (Karnataka?); lots and lots of jungle (Madhya Pradesh?); we see tribal folk and sweater-wearing policemen (Bihar/UP?); rusticness & artistry abounds in the mud-walled villages and mountain-top temples (Rajasthan?). Clearly, Geography is not the movie’s strong point!