So Head on to Re-Vi-You who have hired me to write for them (Yay!).
Please check it out. It’s amazing. *long pause*
In Mani Ratnam’s 1991 classic ‘Thalapathi’ (staring Rajinikanth and Mammootty) we see the man effortlessly adapting the epic tale of Karna from Mahabharata into a modern masterpiece, which is both reverential to the original classic and at the same time, independent in its own ways. Karna is undoubtedly one of the most loved and worshipped characters from Mahabharata. When Karna became Mani Ratnam’s Surya in Thalapathi, we didn’t get an unembellished word by word adaptation of Mahabharatha. The movie, as I have said, had its own independent existence. (The end of the movie was made truthful to the epic, and Karna dies at the end, but then it got changed because no one, absolutely no one, wanted to see Rajinikanth dying. But that’s another story! )
Unlike with Thalapathi, in the case of Raavan we see a more literal adaptation of the Ramayana. We have the jumping man to represent Hanuman, we have the Polygraph test for the Agnipareeksha, we have a Surpanakha nose grabbing scene, we have a fat Kumbakarna, and we have everything, absolutely everything as in the Ramayana. Too literal, you say? Huh. Before jumping on to such half baked conclusions, think why? Why would Mani Ratnam bring in such loud and blown up references in his version of Ramayana? It never occurred to you that there could be a reason?
Here, Mani Ratnam has retold Ramayana exactly like you’ve known it. Just like the Mariyadhapurushotham Ram, Dev is a duty bound cop who fights against the evil to his last breath. He respects his duty above all his personal relationships (even his wife). The perfect cop, if you will! And Beera is the evil local terroriser, who kills people at will (the policemen, for instance), possibly involved in a lot of ‘asura’ deeds which are not shown in the movie, but which should’ve clearly happened, for the cops can’t be behind him without a reason. But our director has masterfully arranged his movie, giving emphasis to the Ram/goodness in Raavan (mostly that) and the Raavan/evil in the Ram. A small but a genius twist of perspective! From the outermost layer, in the movie, Beera is the good guy and Dev is the bad guy. But that’s definitely not the end of story.
What the 54 year old Mani Ratnam does here is nothing short of challenging the mighty Ramayana-one of the most respected and worshipped epics of Indian Mythology (Or at least its popular renditions). The ultimate purpose of the movie is to bring out that dash of goodness in Raavan (please note, not in Beera, but in the classic asura character ‘Raavan’!) and the evil in the God like Ram and thus to suggest the futility of the concepts of good/evil etc. Where Surya (from Thalapathi) works as a derivative of Karna, the representation of Beera as Raavan is much more aspiring. Beera is that part of Raavan we have ignored. Or probably that part of Raavan we were never told of. And in that sense, Raavan is not just a movie based on Ramayana, but rather a movie about Ramayana!
This ambitious angle would have never worked without the movie following the epic so literally like it has done. If ‘Raavan’ was a movie about a thief and a cop with subtle references towards Ramayana thrown here and there, then in no way would have it been able to affect our perception of the original epic characters. Now that is why the movie is made the way it is. And that’s why Mani Rtanam is a Genius.
Hope I did make that one point clear enough. This, I think, is one neglected bit about the movie that can make a whole lot of difference on how people judge it.
Moving on now, the movie is definitely not free of flaws. The major flaw being with the casting section of the movie (Which is more prominent in the Hindi version). Abhishek Bachchan could do only very little justice to the most demanding character of his career. It definitely feels like he tried real hard. But at the end of the day, I believe, acting is more of an inborn talent more than anything else. That’s not saying AB is low on that talent. I still see him as one of the better actors around. But this bloody role was simply asking too much from him. Vikram in Tamil has notably done better as Veera but that too was not really perfect for me. As an actor, I find Vikram a little too loud. Which is mostly an okay thing down south! Also, within that one limitation, Vikram is a very good actor. Here, probably his style of acting has helped him much. Now Vikram as Dev in Hindi didn’t come up to Prthiviraj’s Dev in Tamil. It must be because of the language, but in Hindi, there seemed a little bit of a disconnection bit the body language and the dialogues of Dev. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan looked gorgeous and reminded a lot of us about Iruvar. But except for that, ash was terribly miscast. The rest of the supporting cast did okay. The Tamil actors (Like Prabhu) seemed a little better than their Hindi counterparts, though. Priyamani, was probably the best casting decision that has happened with this movie. She was wonderful in both the versions. Also there are a few other technical glitches here and there, but nothing too bothering, IMO.
And the technical side of the movie has received much praise everywhere. The cinematography is sensational, not just for the use of graphics (the dragonfly and such fancy stuffs) or the lush green forests, but for the deeply emotional close up frames that dominates throughout the movie. Also you can find interesting textures in most of the frames, sometimes it is the rain, some other time it’s just some white dust particles in the air. Editing is top notch too. I don’t know why Big B has said this, but for me the movie is so full of inventive editing (Or maybe I know why he said that!). Sound editing is also very sharp and brilliant. The art direction, the costumes (white and black contrast in Beera/Dev costumes) are all some of the best we have seen over the years. The movie upholds a certain mood from the beginning and all these factors contributes to the mood quiet amazingly. All these and the breathtaking Background score from ARR. I could never understand why so many of you found it uninspiring but I for one, found it to be nearly as good as Rang Da Basandi’s score. And BTW, the quality of the songs in the album are an entirely different case!
So, that’s about it. Huh, and like in most of the other Mani Ratnam movies this one is also loaded with its share of political subtexts like Maoism and the like. Also there was an obvious Veerapan reference in Veera. But those are just subtexts. Added bonus with any Mani Ratanam movie, if you will! So, Raavan is not Mani Ratanam’s best movie ever (Iruvar, forever!). But it’s certainly one of his most ambitious attempts. And it deserves a lot better than remarks like ‘Mani ke Aag’ and all that. Please.
Also I would like to add this one final thing, I saw Raavan two times (the Hindi and the Tamil versions). And I wasn’t bored. Not a single bit.
P.S: One weak/confusing link with the direct adaptation of Ramayana is in the Killing of the Vibhishana character. Actual Ram never kills Vibhishana instead takes him on his side. But Ram, later during the war, kills Meganath, the undefeatable son of Raavan, cheating him with the help of Vibhishana. Maybe that was the story angle interpreted there.
P.S.S: I would personally recommend the Tamil Version.
Hello there! Here is a little update. I bought a new digital camera (Nothing big, just a prosumer-level super zoom model-this one) a few weeks ago, in the good hope of liberating all the photographic curiosities in me! So, here I ‘m putting up some of the photographs I ‘ve taken during the last few days, just to make things a little ceremonious and also to keep this blog a bit more personalized. WordPress doesn’t allow me to embed the slideshow here. So you would have to go there manually by Clicking Here!
Do check the photos and do leave feedbacks. 🙂
Do you believe in luck? I do. More than ever, now! The significance of luck in the existence of every human being is appreciably larger than what most of us would like to agree. People would always love to believe in themselves and their abilities. And that’s not a bad thing, not until you overestimate your own control on things. A comprehension of what is beyond your own capabilities is always good. And apparently what is in your control may become microscopic when you compare it with what is beyond you. Luck is essentially everything that is out of our control and that what controls us. Everything that directly or indirectly shapes up the evolution of our civilizations. Our co-existence with an elaborate social structure is heavily influenced by our chances.
Our present can be seen as an outcome to an array of both controllable and uncontrollable events of past. We generally feel blind about what is out of our power and consequently comes to think that all what is happening is a net resultant of all what we are doing. It’s basically a delusion. We generally care only about that microscopic part of our life of which we are in control. And perhaps for ensuring some sort of a progression in our existence such a delusion is very important. If we stop caring about what we should be cared about, it’s failure again. So consider Mr. A, who is presently doing engineering, and if A works hard, in future he would become a successful engineer. ‘If he works hard’ is the microscopic controllable fraction and all what we are concerned about. There is an indomitable past, present and future to it. ‘A’ was born in a family, a place, a country where he could afford to go learn engineering. Mr. A possibly couldn’t have had any say on such things. Then there is an equally uncertain future. What if Mr. A get’s into an accident or what if America decides to attack Mr. A’s country? A becomes not what he chooses to be, but what a set of random interrelated incidents around him leads him to be. Chaos.
Then there are two other concepts of fate and destiny, which I think is absurd. In fate your luck is predetermined. It was already determined that Mr. A should be born in that particular place, family, country and should go to engineering and no matter how hard he tries he wouldn’t become a successful engineer if the fate has it that way. Now that’s perennial hopelessness. But in many ways luck is not. Your luck is not predetermined. But you couldn’t do anything about either. You are not in control. Nobody is!
So who decides what luck should come to you? GOD, maybe? No I don’t think so. Because if he was in control why would GOD give Mr. A all the luck in the world to become an engineer while Mr. B born in a poor family in Afghanistan, who happens to be a little more intelligent and talented , get’s neglected ? Why would you get the providence today to enjoy that late night party with your friends, when in some other parts of the world men are mourning the deaths of their own sons and daughters? Why them and not you? Is god biased that way? May be, the intervention of the divine power in our lives is a far more complicated and unsettled subject.
So, it’s just a thought on how random and uncertain our life is. It’s not about the good luck or the bad luck but about how out of control everything is. Most people would tell you that you can make your own luck. I believe they are lying. Lying, probably only to help you out. Only to sustain a harmless fallacy that would lead to an overall happiness. I believe in luck for all the livid perplexity it offers. Like Woody Allen I believe in the man who said ‘I would rather be lucky than be good’.
P.S: Sorry for that shameless lame example of Mr. A and engineering. Just too sorry about that!
“We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
To be satisfied with everything is such an impossibility. And so is being unsatisfied about all things. When the excuses you find becomes of no further use, then you want a change. You are so much unsatisfied about yourself and you have to choose. You have to find out the best façade among all. But the one you choose would never work with you. And that is why you are always so much unsatisfied. Then you got to make another choice. It’s like a cycle. And soon you will forget what you really want and what you really are. Being confused about how to pretend is such an awkward state of life. I’ am tired about it.
Now, do forget the bakwaas. A while since I came on the blog now. This should be an update post or something. Life continues to be that little bitch. But it’s quiet okay with me now. The college is getting so boring and I find no interest in whatsoever they teach there. The fucking Lab guy there wants my hairs shortened. I have been working on this shit for a long time now and all of a sudden he wants it all cut down. No, it’s not about losing the hair, but about ‘Why the fuck should a bald headed lab assistant guy tell me what I should do about my hair?’ Is this their way of making the perfect bunch of unemployed engineers for the days to come? Fine anyway. Also, Internet connectivity had become such a scarce thing in my life. With more working days and the poor fucking wifi network provided by the college, the future seems so dull. By the way, why on earth am I droning about the college in the blog? Nothing makes any sense no more.
Last night a few of us friends had a weird interesting conversation on ‘How important it is to have an ability to sing’. Singers are turning out to be the sexiest people on the world. People unconditionally love this singer guys. Girls do it with added ‘unconditionality’. Now that’s something which surely doesn’t comfort you too much. Especially when you know that you can’t sing very well. While in the conversation we all admitted how envious we are all about these singing people. I mean we do love singers and all that but ain’t this a bit of a biased kind of world that we are living in? You could see this as the weak man’s side of the story, but that makes no difference to me whatsoever. Okay, now nothing goes unresolved when we friends have a serious talk. Finally we all decided to learn at least one musical instruments in our days. To splash water over that burning feeling of unworthiness and to convince ourselves that we are trying. Sick it sounds, but sicker it would be without something like this! No, but seriously, I have been craving to learn some kind of a musical instrument for a long time now. Haven’t decided which one or where, suggestions are open and are welcome on this. Lately, I have been so much depressed about how lazy things are getting to be and how badly I ‘am being all the more invisible to the world which I would love to get noticed by. It’s all complicated and it happens with everyone I think.
Well so much for the whining now. The perfectly senseless and weird post already served its purpose, as I ‘am feeling a bit better now! And I ‘am feeling hungry too.
P.S: In Tyler Durden, we trust!
Ok. This is a fun ‘Meme’ which I stole from ruhi. The idea is to list out all your favorite movies in the alphabetic order. Quiet simple, but fun. Fun because there is no complication of rating one movie over another and such stuff. So here we go…
A is for Annie Hall – Woody Allen
The woody Allen favorite. Sincerely funny and smart! I think this movie is the best prototype to the entire work of Allen. Love this guy!
B is for Bicycle theives –Vittorio De Sica
Pure Classic and Beyond any words! ‘The more you watch it the more you love it’ kinda stuff!
B is also for The Big Lebowski –Coen Bros.
True inspirational stuff! I ‘am aware of the irony here but the dude is simply too cool!
D for Dr. Strangelove– Stanley Kubrick
Arguably one of the Kubrick’s best work (Space Odyssey is not being avioded. It is considered as something much much above any catogarization!). Quoting one review in imdb- “the only movie that will make you laugh at the end of the world!!”
D is also for Desharadham – Sibi Malayil (Malayalam).
Beautiful movie and one of the finest performances by one of the finest actors in the country- Mohanlal.
F is for Fight club– David Fincher
Get ready to resurrect yourself with the fight club! This movie was almost an addiction for me at a stage. Tyler Durden is truly one of the best movie characters ever.
(or Fargo or Following)
H is for Heat– Michael mann
Its Pacino v/s De Niro Like never before. And also Mann’s craft in conceving crime saga is most evident here.
J is for Jackie Brown– Quentin Tarantino
De nero with QT. What else do you need? Excellent OST too!
K is for Kill Bill Vol 1&2– Quentin Tarantino
Pure Tarantino magic again. Extremely well etched out cinematography, fighting sequences, Bgm etc. And the intensity of Uma Thurman! Well you seriously can’t ask for more.
L is for Laberinto del fauno, El (a.k.a Pan’s Labyrinth) – Guillermo del Toro
A movie which restructured the genre of fantasy movies, well at least for me. A haunting Experience. Del Toro is simply too innovative.
(or Life is beautiful or L.A Confidential)
M is for Memento – Christopher Nolan.
One of the most intelligently constructed movie ever. An unbelievable work by Nolan. Also one of the most inspiring work of art for me. I mean how could people create movies like this?
(or Moonam pakam (Malayalam)- Padmarajan)
N is for No Country for Old Men– Coen Bros.
Simple, powerful and breathtaking. Coens at the top of their craft.
P is for Pulp Fiction– Quentin Tarantino
A movie which essentially changed my outlook on movies. QT at his best. Travolta, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson all at their best. One hell of an experience.
Q is for ‘Ask them to make more ‘Q’ movies’!
S is for Saving Private Ryan– Steven Spielberg
Exceptional again .Spielberg is too good when he makes movies like this. The cast is also great. I love Tom Hanks.
(or Schindler’s List or Sandesham (Malayalam) )
U is for Untouchables– Brian De Palma
A perfect classic style crime saga.
V is for Vertigo– Alfred Hitchcock
A murder mystery that is so much more than what it seems to be. The tremendous depth in the characters of the movie is just awe-inspiring. Greating acting too.
(or Vanaprastham(malayalm)- Shaji N Karun)
W is for Wall-E– Andrew Stanton
Pixar movies seems to be getting better with each new one. Really lovable characters and enjoyable plot are mostly their highlights. Wall-E is no different.
X is for X-men- The last stand– Bret Ratner
The best ‘X’ movie I guess. 🙂
Y is for Yojimbo – Akira Kurasowa
A great example to the great story telling talents of Kurasowa. Beyond any distinction of generations, languages and cultures. Like almost all of his movies. Maybe the ‘coolest’ movie from Kurasowa. Loved it. Totally.
Z is for Zodaic– David Fincher
I think it is the fascination of an ongoing case being made into film that differentiate Zodiac from other movies. The true essence of the original happenings can be felt in the cinema and hats off to Fincher for that. Needless to say I love this man and I love his movies very much.
Uhh….The Longest post ever! I should have been really mad to write this all up! Shit!
P.S: One important point to be noted here is that the priority was given in finding and assigning at least one movie for each letter. And hence this may not be quiet the list of my favorite movies. There is a slight difference between the two.
I would love to see more people doing the meme, by the way!
When we reached Tiruvandapuram at morning 4 0’ clock nothing had any amount of certainty. Standing in the packed train for more than four hours to reach here, had already made us tired to death. The plan is to meet the acclaimed writer-director Renjith for an interview for the college magazine and to have some good fun at the ongoing international film festival of Kerala. Except for that plan, everything was in perfect chaos at that point of time. The friend who had an uncle, who supposedly was arranging everything for us, was not even available on the phone. Our expectations were quiet low and we were completely prepared to get kicked in the ass.
It all began when we heard that our college magazine has got three pages reserved for an interview every year. Since the editor was a guy from our own hostel, we made sure that we will do the interview this year.
Since then we had kind of elaborate plans and all such stuff. It must have been several months now. We tried to contact Renjith on phone but failed many times. So, everything was in ‘out-of-the-hands’ state when last day suddenly I got a call from my friend. He said Renjith had agreed for the interview on 15th morning 8 o clock (that was a day after tomorrow then!) at Tvm. It was 200+km and just one day ahead. Wow!
The plan was to make the questions for the interview while in the train during the 4 hour journey. But the train was fucking too crowded. Not even enough space to stand straight. Fantastic. Also some friends called telling that they probably couldn’t make it.
So now we stand at the capital city perfectly unaware of anything that’s coming our way.
Square one state!
After some 2-3 hours came the Friend’s phone call. Things gained pace with that. The vagueness started to disappear and to our own surprise, everything started to get into an order. At 10 o’ clock morning, we finally talked to the man on phone and he asked us to come. The venue was a theatre. Two of his movies were going to be screened today and he was awfully busy. We found him in the middle of a group of some top shot directors of Malayalam. Now, assuming our excitement level is your job!
Interview lasted for something like one hour.
The man was just electrifying. He started to give elaborate answers to each of our questions with such ease and frankness. He suddenly took the control of the whole deal going on. We felt a particular warmth and love in the way he reacted. We felt valued!
It was a cricketer’s delight at his maiden century or a child’s excitement on being at the top of an elephant or the ecstasy of the lost at being heard. It was beautiful. May be the interview wasn’t that good. But when we finally walked out of the place for some food, we felt really good.
Then there was a bunch of worthy movies to watch at the IFFK. But bad luck for us there. A pass was required to watch the movies and what did we knew. We went to watch Priyadarshan’s Kanchivaram, and were surprised by the huge crowd there. We understood that it was impossible without a pass and peacefully roamed around the city talking a lot of photographs and gradually started back home by noon.
It was still a worthy deal for us anyway.
I will post the interview (which was in malayalam) after our college magazine comes out. The photos are strictly copyrighted.