Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
The overwhelming feeling as one leaves the theatre after having watched “Raavan” is one of disappointment. Make that huge disappointment. Could it be that one of this generation’s finest filmmakers, is credited as director in this disjointed, mediocre effort?
Nothing in the two-hour film is reminiscent of Mani Ratnam’s class. Instead it is littered with shoddy direction, bad acting and long-winding but nonsensical dialogues. The only saving grace is Santosh Sivan’s magical cinematography, but the truth is even that cannot hide the flaws in this film.
Abhishek Bachchan plays Beera, an outlaw, who we are told is a terror but there is no context given to his action. He inspires fear in the villagers of Lal Maati, but not in Ragini (Aishwarya Rai), the wife of a police officer whom he kidnaps for revenge. Dev (Vikram) sets out in search of his wife, but there is no urgency to the search it seems, because he has all the time in the world to stop at villages and ask for people’s opinions on Beera, to read maps and even to shave. You never get the feeling that he wants to find his wife.
There is really nothing more to the story than that. Perhaps Mani Ratnam wants to build a relationship between Ragini and Beera but we never see that happening. It is as if he came up with these interesting characters, but didn’t have the time to develop them. Even Ragini’s sympathy towards Beera seems half-baked and we never really get a sense of why she is doing what she is.
For someone who came into the Indian film industry as a former beauty queen, Aishwarya Rai has done her fair share of unglamorous roles in Bollywood.
From playing an abused wife in “Provoked” or the middle-aged wife of an industrialist in “Guru”, Rai has always let her acting do the talking.