..can be summarized as what Mani Ratnam had to endure with Raavan/Raavanan/Villain. A media made “country’s best film maker” suddenly was made to have found his Elba. Now, for the loads and loads movies that have been dished out from the so called bollywood industry, which utterly demean and insult an average movie goer’s intelligence time and again, why a movie like Raavan had to face the wrath? Even though the answer can be quite hard to find and analyze, let us just say that Raavan, even for a second, didn’t deserve the mercilessness that it got. You may not like the movie or may not call it a classic – ever, but does that give you – you, the so-called-film-critic, any right to blatantly comment on the film maker’s intelligence?
In my mind, the biggest mistake that Mani may have committed was naming the film “Raavan” (I don’t mean to question his title but rather presenting an alternative scenario). I can understand the metaphor and all that. But seriously, did he think that the audience would spare him by not comparing Ramayan with this story? or did he give too much credit to his audience’s intelligence? Either way, he could have played it a lot safer by naming the movie anything but Raavan. More than half his battle would have been won had he done that. I would love to hear Mani talk about this.
I did watch both Raavan and Raavanan. As much it is unfair to compare the actors who played the corresponding characters in each version, I would have to say that both Abhishek and Vikram had interpreted their characters in their own way and had played them convincingly. Of course, Vikram had more to offer in terms of nuances in his body language, facial expressions, etc. while Abhishek still did all that he could to have a Bheera whose character stood out.
Of the far and few who lavishly praised the movie, there have been quite a few, who offered great insights into the movie maker’s motive behind each character and how they could draw parallels between the characters, plots & Ramayan, yet, not in a proportionate or a linear way. Since writing a review for that movie now seems a little too late, as an obituary column has already been published by the film critics, I prefer looking at this scenario as a great case study for how the 21st century media killed a movie, so passionately and unreasonably through twitter, facebook and blogs. Sort of like a post mortem.
Mani Ratnam, the human being, is probably gutsy. Really gutsy. He ignored the media as much as he normally does when his movies go onto make big splash across the national media. Like how Roja did and Like how Bombay did. And the same media (with a size that is at least 100 times that of its form in the 1990s) stampeded his supposedly biggest movie (in terms of effort) into oblivion in less than 48 hours after the release. Which is why it is amusing to me, that Mani seems absolutely unfrazzled after a fall like this. Hence, as a Mani fan, I am trying to reason out the fall on his behalf, not with the hope that he could use this experience to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but to grieve the disappointment that this turned out to be.