"So, did you see the movie?" My sister threw me the question as soon as she heard my voice crackle over the phone.
"Yeah, yesterday night…" I replied back.
"So, what did you think?" Her warm voice, brimming with expectation prodded me.
I took a deep breath- "It could have been better.. Much better.."
"Hmhm.. I thought exactly the same…" She paused for a second. "I mean when the character of Hanuman – depicted as forest guard, asking Sita – Whether She would allow him to carry her back to Ram – It was not just silly, it was so awkward. I mean what was the director was thinking!!"
"Yeah, but you know what’s even more silly.." I remarked. "Trying to show that a forest guard (depicting Hanuman) can find Sita just like that. I mean – Even though the movie is based on the legend of Ramayana, only when it’s grounded in reality it will strike a chord.."
"But, hey it’s hanuman you are talking about. He has to be powerful.. Right !!"
"Yeah.. But Hanuman in the actual epic played one of the most important roles. Trying to fit in such a humungous character into a three hour frame has not only robbed quality time that could have been utilized to increase the ambiguity in the characterization of both Ram and Ravanan. And also, the character of Hanuman has been severly underutilized, So why bring in the character in the first place ?"
"Hmhm.. And the character of Raavan's brother is too dumb. I mean.. what kind of a fool it would take to confront someone who wants to kill you in the first sight !!"
"Yeah.. Mani just used him as a trigger that would start off the violent climax." I answered back to her thoughtfully.
"Talking about the climax, what a disappointment. – Right when the character of Ram questions Sita about her chastity, you start to guess that, he is just trying to use her to get back at Raavan & the climax would have at-least been more appealing if Sita also got shot along with Raavan. I mean... With so many people shooting Raavan with all they have, it was like a miracle that Sita was not hurt by a stray bullet even though she was right in front of him." She paused.
"And It was so not like the wild Raavan to tell Ram that his wife is still pure and he should take her & go-- when they are both hanging from the bridge for their lives. Raavan should have been shown more as character with more unpredictability and girth. He should have told Ram, that- He did not deserve her and He should have ridiculed him.."
"Hmhm.. Yeah you have a point" I agreed with her. "but I was most disappointed with the fight scenes. The scene where Raavan’s men bring down the vehicles by using sugar in the diesel tanks upped my interest. I was expecting more in the next confrontation, but what a let down. I mean, what kind of a dud climax, it would be to show Raavan’s men just dashing into the camp, without any preparations. I mean, for god's sake its a military camp, we are talking about.. There would be regular patrols and guards on look out. Emphasis should have been given for the way in which the climax fight starts…"
"& Don’t get me started with the fight on the bridge. Yeah.. It was interesting & the camera work along with the stunt made it look exiting, even exhilarating.. but-- Was it brutal enough to be a fight between Ram & Ravanan. No way & come on.. Do you really think any one could survive a fall like that, even if they are holding on to the bridge. Bull Shit !!"
"You know what I personally thought" I paused for a second. "The fight would have been much better if, the would have clashed on the land. Real brutal. Both of them going at each other, with everything they have. Blood pouring out of their wounds. Ram, in his usual self- trying to bring down the evil Raavan. Raavan with his insane grin, going against Ram with abandon. & just when they are fully exhausted with no more in them, Ram should have got a gun by chance…"
"And it is then, when he slowly aims the trigger to put an end to Raavan once & for all; Raavan still not perturbed staring straight into the barrel of the gun; Sita should have interfered. Tears pouring, She should have pleaded with Ram, not to kill him. Now would have been the best time for Ram to question Sita...
On her chastity.. Why she is crying for the villain.. What has happened between them.. On whose side, she really is??
Who really is good & who really is bad ?? For whom does really her heart beat for??
The situation, if properly played would have been a defining moment in Indian Cinema..
Ram, who just realized that his own wife, for whom he has come- has ambiguous feelings for Raavan..
Raavan, in bliss- insane smiles lighting up his face seeing Sita standing up for him clearly in the open for the first time…
Sita, who just realized that she cannot clearly judge with her loyalty and love lies with.. Looks torn and broken between Ram & Raavan.
This situation would have been highly dynamic and could have given rise to any number of poignant endings. Like Ravanan Being blown of by a freak bomb into the ravine still smiling looking contently at Sita trying to protect him.
Ram, who just lost his own faith in his wife- walking away slowly away from Sita.
Sita, just sitting there- staring into the nothingness of the Ravine, Lost for both words and her soul..
I personally think, Mani Rathnam could have made a modern day epic.. But then he settled for much less, just a simple experimentation."
"Hmhm.." She replied back thoughtfully "Yeah.. In a way, the movie could have been much more.." I could feel my sister nodding her approval at the other end.
"I thik the main mistake that Mani Rathnam did was to stick to the original tale too much & also he should have elaborated more on the character of Ram. And Whats with that Romance song choreography between Ram & Sita.. It was too made up & dumb. Something that you would not exept from Mani Rathnam. You know what.." I told my sister. "I cannot believe that it’s the same man, who made Thalapathi based on Mahabharatham. What a Gem of a movie that was…."
"May be, Mani Rathnam is getting old." My sister replied with a hint of a laugh.
"Haha… You think so... hmhm yeah, May be. Even his last film – Guru did not really get my heart pumping.
"But then, Raavan did had it’s moments.." My sister hit back. " Like the scene, where Raavan raids Ram's military head quarters, the scene where Sita falls from the tree branches with a worried Raavan chasing behind her, Sita rebelling telling Raavan that her life is her own before jumping off the cliff.."
"But with an Ace of a director like Mani Rathnam, I would expect more than just a few good moments." I replied back.
My sister sighed. “yeah, you are probably right..”
My sister and I love discussing movies, after seeing them. And the above is the most of what transpired between us after Raavan. I purposely left out, what we discussed about the portrayal of the characters by the actors. I think- The audience are intelligent enough to know who did not suit the role & who breathed life into their role. I was more interested in how more the director could have made the film more tangible, more memorable, more of the epic that Ramayana really is....
Anyways, I have taken a few critical pot shots at the movie. I would love to have alternate opinions & critiques of my own ideas.
Guys, do leave back- your thoughts as comments...