This was one movie I had to write a review on. Mani Ratnam’s modern day rendition of Ramayana has very little in common to the original epic we are used to hearing but the basic premise remains the same- love, bravery and later betrayal.
Major story line spoilers ahead. I guess this would have been Mani Ratnam’s rough draft of the movie:
Ram is posted as a police officer in Lalgarh and comes there with Sita. Lalgarh is a strong hold of Raavan, a Robin Hood type character with a tinge of Naxal tendencies. Laxman and his group of motley police officers gang-rape Surpanika, Raavan’s feisty sister who later as commits suicide as per the requirements of the script to stoke Raavan’s evil side. Raavan promptly kidnaps Sita with an intention to kill her, but desists due to a strange fascination with her. An incensed Rama meanwhile teams up with Hanuman and scours the forests for his beloved wife.
Raavan’s adoration of Sita grows on by ever growing day and he asks her if she would stay with him in the forest. Hanuman meanwhile finds Sita but ends up getting caught. He warns Raavan to surrender Sita and spare all his people a gory death. Not wanting to end up dead, a few others convince the rebel leader to send his brother, Vibeeshan to talks along with Hanuman. Rama now shows himself to be a sneaky character and dispatches Vibeeshan with finesse and a 22 mm revolver.
With all options of peace dead and buried, a climatic end ensues with Raavan and Ram poised precariously on a burning suspension bridge. Sita begs Raavan to spare Ram’s life and in return promises to stay with forever. Touché! Raavan obliges, but Sita returns to her beloved husband who wants her to take a polygraph test to prove herself. Sita heads back to find Raavan, but her husband tails her and puts an end to the dreaded bandit.
Add in a few human emotions, songs, exotic locations and you have got yourself an authentic Bollywood script in three paragraphs! BTW I hope Mani notices this blog and invites me to co-author his next movie script. I am sure I could add a few twists here and there.
Abhishek Bachchan seemed ill at ease playing Beera and his portrayal of the rebel was less than convincing. For folks down in the south like me who happen to grow up with tales of rebels like Veerapan and his murderous deeds, the portrayal seemed to lack the anger and attitude required. I wish there had been a fast-forward option to skip his dance sequences where he seemed totally ill-at-ease. Ragini is not a role that a lot of current Bollywood actresses could have done justice to, and I would say Aishwarya has done a decent job. The eyes are meant to emote fear, but Aishwarya tries to do that by breathing hard! Vikram seemed to fit right into the role of police officer who is ready to do anything to get his wife back and then ask her to take a polygraph test once she is back. Only problem he seemed to have was acting in Hindi.
What shines in the movie is Mani Ratnam’s unique storytelling. This is not the run-of-the-mill Karan Johar movie where all the dots are connected. You are left to make some basic assumptions on why certain things are happening the way they are. Rehman’s scores in the movie seem nowhere near his best. The camera work is great and the landscape where the movie was shot is breadth-taking. Overall I think I liked the movie. Shoot me now...