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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Raavan-movie review

I actually got to see the Raavan movie yesterday! This is the movie that Sita and Dhurga were talking about in the comments a few posts ago. A re-imagining of the Ramayana, with more sympathy toward the Ravana character.

It sounded so interesting, but I didn't know how to find out when or where it would be playing, then a girl from my Hindi meet-up group posted on Facebook that she was going to see it this week. I quickly asked if I could come along, so we went together last night.

The movie was amazing. Visually it was stunning all the way through. Great music and gorgeous scenery and well set up scenes.

The story was really interesting. The Rama character, Dev, was certainly not pure good guy. As we learn more about the Ravana character, Beera, it seems like he is actually the more honest one. He's crazy, but he's also a sort-of Robin Hood protector to the villagers. It sets up that really Beera has been forced into the position of being a monster because he is poor and low-caste. A lot has to do with perspective and even all the villagers the police interview about him have different things to say. Some say he is evil, others say that he protects them, others say he is talented in poetry. The man playing Beera did it super creepy.

The ending did leave me wondering what happened next, but even so I loved the movie through and through.

My friend who I went with mentioned that the movie got much better reviews in America than in India and we speculated why that was. I thought that perhaps this re-imagining of Sita is too dangerous to a culture built on telling women to be like Sita and follow your husband no matter what, be quiet and loyal. Strong female characters are threatening. Ragini, this Sita character, was strong-willed. However, she was still faithful to her husband, even as she came to understand why Beera behaved as he did. Maybe in her heart she wasn't entirely faithful...

Here is a preview:

And for the long hair lovers like me, Ragini has gorgeous tail-bone length hair!

After you see it, tell me: why and how would anyone build a bridge so high up in the air?


  1. I'm yet to catch the film. But yes the Indian reviews haven't been kind to Ratnam (director). Snr Bachan actaully critised the director because his son was portrayed as confused (Beera).

    And also the fact that Rama was portrayed a good person (which I'm sure he was), it is a relatively new phenomenon. Hopefully I'm able to catch the movie, if not I'll have to watch it online. The tamil version seems to be doing better than the hindi version.

  2. I don't know how others felt, but wow I thought Beera's character was phenomenal, just amazing. And I had very little sympathy for the Rama character, Dev. He seemed pretty evil to me!

    I think they would have had real trouble with me if they had said this was the Ramayana, or this is how it really was, or something like that. I thought there was enough distance to think that this is just some interesting ideas, but doesn't take away from the real Rama's divinity.

  3. i am yet to watch the film. but going by the reviews the main complains are bad editing, poor script, simplistic plot, bad acting etc. in short not interesting unlike maniratnam's other films.

    it doesn't look like reinterpretation of the character played any role behind bad reviews.

    by the way, ramayana has been interpreted differently in various times. there are many version of ramayana, including jain, muslim, buddhist and even a feminist version.

    there is a very famous 20th century ballad in bengal called "meghnad vadh kabya" where ravana's son was the hero and lakshman was the villain.

    india , at present in more conservative in north . "the bible belt" of india.

    - basu

  4. Wow. I'm really surprised by those reviews. Maybe I have bad taste, but I thought the acting was great, the editing was awesome and the script was fine (although I only caught bits and pieces of the Hindi and mostly still relied on subtitles).

  5. "Maybe I have bad taste, but I thought the acting was great,"

    - don't go by the reviews. the last few bollywood movies which i went to watch after reading the reviews were all bad.

    i mentioned it to say that reinterpretation was not the reason behind getting bad reviews.

    - basu

  6. I see. Hmmm. I guess Americans and Indians are really looking for different things in movies, since it seems that American reviews for it are good! :)

  7. Actually, there was a controversy about this movie but it was not about either Rama or Raavana but about Supporting Srilankan Tamils by boycotting the IFFI held recently in SriLanka.That Aside, Sita is potrayed as Loyal and submissive currently[ever since Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana Serial].In the Epic she is shown as one who knows her mind,and one who argues even with her Husband.,otherwise she would not have been in the Forests,and there would not be a Ramayana. In fact, My sanskrit lecture in College used to call her arrogant,that's why she got into trouble!

  8. Hello Aamba,
    Prajakta here..
    I really don't agree with you on this. 'I thought that perhaps this re-imagining of Sita is too dangerous to a culture built on telling women to be like Sita and follow your husband no matter what, be quiet and loyal. Strong female characters are threatening.' Now people in India treat women as equals..I am a Maharashtrian girl. I am a software engineer by profession. I am going to have an love marriage with a boy who is not of my cast. & I have loads of cousins who got married in other casts. So things are changing or I would like to say that things are already changed. But as applicable to any other place there are exceptions. And a movie getting good reviews or bad is a really complex thing in india. No one can predict it. So please remove your concept of Indian women who are just housewives & the ones who don't have any opinion. Its a mutual relationship.Also I want to tell you that Sita is not a symbol of just a quiet & loyal wife. She is symbol of Ram's strength. She is symbol of purity. She is strong. She was a independent women who decided to support her husband. If you see Urmila who was Laxman's wife did not follow him to the forest. A wife standing beside her husband is not weak. I thing she is most courageous person & her belief gives strength to her husband.

  9. I think I'll have to take back what I said. It was just a guess and I think everyone disagrees with my assessment!