TV Times

Raavan: a myth or a metaphor

By Susitha R. Fernando

As the title suggests ‘Raavan’, is not a film about the ancient Sanskrit epic ‘Ramayana’ attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki or about the historical emperor who reigned over Sri Lanka from 2554 BC to 2517 BC, Ravana.

It is only a fictitious modern day tale loosely based on an epic story about a bandit leader who kidnaps the wife of a policeman who killed his sister, but later falls in love with her. Made by reputed South Indian director Mani Ratnam, the film is now being screened at the Liberty cinema, Colombo.

The film brings back the Bachchan couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai who played the successful duo in Ratnam’s earlier super hit ‘Guru’. Others in the key roles are played by Vikram, Govinda, Ravi Kishan, Nikhil Dwivedi, Tejaswini Kolhapure and Priyamani.

Dev (Vikram), a police officer, falls in love with Ragini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), a classical dancer. They are both unconventional. They get married and he takes her to his new post in Lal Maati, a small town in northern India. Lal Maati is a town where the word of law is not the police but Beera (Abhishek Bachchan), a tribal who has, over the years shifted the power from the ruling to the have-nots of the area. Dev knows that the key to bringing order to any place is to vanquish the big fish, in this case - Beera.

In one stroke Dev manages to rip open Beera’s world, and set in motion a chain of events which will claim lives, change fortunes. Beera, injured but enraged hits back starting a battle that draws Dev, Beera and Ragini into the jungle. The story goes on to tell the sequence of events that follow.

“Raavan was an idea which stayed with me for a while. It was with me for about the last 2-3 films, after that it kind of fell into place. I actually told Aishwarya about her role when we were doing Guru,” said Ratnam about his latest film.

However while making the film Ratnam with his extensive research has queried whether Raavana was simply a myth or a metaphor or whether Raavana was the line that divided the line between Good and Evil.

From his directorial debut, the Kannada film ‘Pallavi Anu Pallavi’ in 1983, Mani Ratnam has tackled a variety of topics from love stories, human struggles for success to ethnic conflicts in his filmography like Nayagan (1987), Anjali (1990), Thalapathi (1991), Iruvar (1997), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Yuva (2004), Guru (2007). Through his “terrorism trilogy” consisting of Roja (1992), Bombay (1995) and Dil Se (1998) Ratnam is widely credited with having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema.

‘Raavan’ also marks the reunion of top Indian filmmaker and Academy Award winner A. R. Rahman whose joint ventures became a success. The reason for success behind all Mani Ratnam’s box office hits like ‘Roja’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Iruvar’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘ Alaipayuthey’, ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ and ‘Guru’ were Rahaman’s sound tracks and film score.

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