Raavan is a 2010 Indian Hindi-language epic action-adventure film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Vikram (in his Hindi debut) in the lead roles, while Govinda, Nikhil Dwivedi, Ravi Kishan and Priyamani feature in key supporting roles. The film follows the crux of the epic Ramayana, with a ruthless police officer on the chase to find a tribal leader and lawbreaker, who has kidnapped his wife. Beera Munda, the kidnapper and his motive for the kidnap has been led on by the death of his sister, as a result of police custodial torture and brutal rape. The film explores the search by the officer, whilst exploring the changing emotions that the three protagonists experience with each other, leading to a riveting climax, situated in the jungle. This film is based on Stockholm syndrome.[4]

Raavan
Raavanposter2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMani Ratnam
Produced byMani Ratnam
Sharada Trilok
Written byVijay Krishna Acharya
(Dialogues)
Screenplay byMani Ratnam
StarringAbhishek Bachchan
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Vikram
Govinda
Nikhil Dwivedi
Ravi Kishan
Priyamani
Music byA. R. Rahman
CinematographySantosh Sivan
V. Manikandan
Edited byA. Sreekar Prasad
Production
company
Distributed byReliance BIG Pictures
Release date
  • 18 June 2010 (2010-06-18)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget300 million (US$4.2 million)[2]
Box office286 million (US$4.0 million)[3]

Raavan was announced in February 2008, whilst Abhishek and Aishwarya's collaboration in the second time after Guru (2007),[5] creating more anticipation. Shooting began soon after, and took place in various locations with a record number of extras in areas including Chalakudy, Kerala and Ooty, Tamil Nadu amongst other regions throughout India. The film's music was composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics written by Gulzar, the cinematography was handled by V. Manikandan and Santhosh Sivan, and editing done by A. Sreekar Prasad.

The film was simultaneously released in Tamil as Raavanan with the film's antagonist Vikram, playing the lead role, and Aishwarya Rai reprising her role in Tamil as well. Furthermore, the film was dubbed in Telugu as Villain.[6] All the three versions released simultaneously on 18 June 2010 worldwide. The film's premiere was held in London on 16 June 2010.[7]

PlotEdit

Beera Munda, a bandit, jumps off a cliff into the water. His gang distracts the police and police vehicles are set on fire. Ragini Sharma, on a boating trip, is kidnapped by Beera. Dev Pratap Sharma, her husband and a superintendent of police, is informed of her abduction.

A montage showcases Beera's story. He is seen as a local hero, who runs a parallel government, with his brothers, Mangal and Hariya, and is considered as a naxalite by the police. He kidnaps Ragini to avenge the death of his sister Jamunia. Ragini refuses to die at the bandit's hands and jumps off the cliff, but survives and Beera holds off her killing, as he sees it useless to kill someone who has no fear of death.

Dev and his team enter the forests with the aid of a forest guard, Sanjeevani Kumar, but they are unable to find Beera. Beera and Mangal infiltrate the police tents when Dev is not present and come upon Inspector Hemant, Dev's junior and his assistant. They kidnap Hemant, take him to their hideout and bury him in the ground with only his head sticking out.

Ragini discovers Hemant in this condition and reproaches Beera and Mangal for such inhuman acts. Beera tells the story of his sister's death; Dev had led an encounter against Beera during Jamunia's wedding. Dev's shot grazed Beera in the neck. Beera escaped, but Hemant captured and took Jamunia to the police station. She was kept in police custody all night and was serially gangraped by the policemen, when she refused to reveal Beera's whereabouts. The next day, she committed suicide by drowning in a nearby well. Hearing Beera's story, Ragini feels sorry for him. Then Beera reveals his feelings to Ragini, but she is still devoted to Dev.

Sanjeevani Kumar sneaks into the place where Ragini is kept. He tells her of Dev's search for her, but Mangal comes from behind and captures Sanjeevani. He is taken as prisoner in front of Beera and tells him to return Ragini to Dev, or be responsible for the destruction of his people. Beera bluntly refuses the advice.

Hariya convinces Beera to allow him to offer a truce to Dev. He goes with Sanjeevani to their camp. Dev initially agrees, but when Hariya comes out in the open, Dev kills him, revealing that the destruction of Beera is more important to him than saving his wife.

Enraged at his brother's death, Beera sets the police tents on fire in an ambush attack with his gang. Dev and Beera come face to face for a final confrontation on an old mountain bridge. Dev fights Beera with brute force, but Beera outwits him. Beera saves Dev from falling to his death because his wife was waiting for him. Beera releases Ragini and she and Dev re-unite. However, Dev yells at an invisible Beera, vowing to return and destroy him.

While on their way home, Dev accuses Ragini of infidelity and claims it was Beera who told him of it. Infuriated, Ragini leaves Dev to meet Beera through Mangal. They however realize Dev lied, hoping Ragini would lead him to his hideout. Dev appears with a police team and confront the duo, reminding Beera of his vow. Ragini stands in front of Beera to save him, but Beera pushes her out of the line of fire and is shot multiple times. Ragini tries to save Beera with all her might, but Beera falls off the cliff to his death with a smile.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

During the making of his 2007 biopic Guru starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Mani Ratnam had finalised a script for his next directorial venture titled Lajjo.[10] Based on a short story by Ismat Chughtai,[11] it was a musical period film set in the desert and was to star Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead.[12] Though the film was slated to go on floors after the release of the former,[13] there were reports of a fall-out between Ratnam and Khan due to creative differences. While cinematographer P. C. Sreeram denied the reports,[14] the film's would-be lyricist Gulzar said there were actually problems with acquiring the copyright of the story,[15] and composer A. R. Rahman even confirmed to having completed 80% of the film score.[16] Yet, the project was put on the back burner for reasons unknown.[17][18]

Following the critical and commercial success of Guru, Ratnam announced his next film in February 2008.[19] A modern-day retelling of the mythological epic Ramayana, the film again features the real life couple in the lead.[20] The film was initially planned to be made only in Hindi and the idea for the Tamil version came later.[21] In January 2009, while the film was in the making, it was further decided to dub the Tamil version to Telugu making it a tri-lingual.[22][23] While the film was yet to be titled,[24] it was widely reported in the media that the Tamil version was titled Ashokavanam in reference to the place where Sita was held captive by Ravana.[25] Subsequently, the film was titled Raavan in Hindi, Raavanan in Tamil and Villain in Telugu.[26] While the plot is inspired by Ramayana, the story is narrated from Ravana's perspective making him the protagonist.[27] The film is centered on the 'Ashokavanam' episode where Ravana kidnaps Sita and keeps her in Asokavanam. Later Rama ventures to save his wife and bring her back.

CastingEdit

While Bachchan and Vikram were roped in for the contrasting leads in Hindi, Ratnam asked them to swap roles in Tamil.[28] Though Bachchan agreed initially, he grew sceptical being unfamiliar with the language.[29] Eventually Prithviraj was cast in his place for the Tamil.[30] Rai plays the female lead in both versions of the film.[31]

Manikandan was hired as the film's cinematographer; however, he walked out in May 2009 and was replaced by Santosh Sivan.[32][33] The editing was done by Sreekar Prasad.[34] Rai's costumes were exclusively designed by fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee.[35] Choreography was by Ganesh Acharya, Brinda, Shobana,[36] and Astad Deboo. Peter Hein and Shyam Koushal choreographed the action sequences and Samir Chanda took care of production design.

FilmingEdit

Raavan was shot in numerous locations around India including the forests of Karnataka (Tumkur), Kerala (Athirappilly Falls),[37] Ooty, Dharmapuri (Hogenakkal Falls), Jhansi, Kolkata, Mahabaleshwar and in the Malshej Ghats in Maharashtra.[38][39]

Principal photography commenced in October 2008, in the forests near Kochi, Kerala. A few scenes were filmed at Athirappilly Falls, Ratnam's favourite location. Incidentally, he has shot for the songs 'Jiya Jale' in Dil Se.. and 'Barso Re' in Guru at the same location.[40] Forest officials banned the shooting at Malayattoor, an eco-tourism centre, for violating rules and constructing temporary huts,[41][42][43][44][45] delaying the shoot for 11 days until the issues were resolved on 22 October 2008, while laying down reworked rules.[46][47][48] The second leg of the shooting at Ooty that began in December 2008 was also delayed as local cab drivers protested the use of film federation (FEFSI) vehicles which affected their business,[49][50] forcing a dejected Ratnam to call off the shoot temporarily and move on to Hogenakkal Falls.[51][52] In February 2009, the crew advanced to Kolkata where the song 'Kalvare' was shot by the banks of Hooghly at Agarpara.[53][54][55][56] Later, as the shooting resumed and progressed at Ooty, Ratnam fell ill in April 2009 and was hospitalised at Apollo Hospitals,[57][58][59] causing a further delay of 47 days until filming resumed in June 2009 following his recovery.[60] As the numerous delays affected his other projects, DOP Manikandan walked out in May and was replaced by Santosh Sivan.[61][62] By July, the crew moved back to Kerala,[63] to reshoot a few scenes at Chalakudy as Ratnam was reportedly unsatisfied after seeing the rushes.[64][65] This time around, heavy rains played spoilsport leading to another delay in filming.[66] Moreover, when an elephant brought for the shoot ran amok killing the mahout,[67] the Animal Welfare Board served a show cause notice to the production company (Madras Talkies) for not taking permission to use elephants.[68][69]

The film began its last schedule in August 2009 at the Malshej Ghats in Maharashtra where the climax sequence was shot,[70] the final encounter taking place on a wooden bridge.[71] Production designer Samir Chanda built three identical bridges to facilitate the scene to be captured from different angles.[72][73] Though initially planned to be built either in Sri Lanka, Australia or South Africa, the bridge was constructed in Mumbai to reduce costs.[74][75] While bad weather and heavy rains disrupted shoot for a few days,[76] the forest department filed cases against some crew members for trespassing.[77][78] The film went into post-production by the end of 2009.[79]

Numerous action sequences were performed by the actors.[80] The actors suffered from real cuts and bruises so they didn't need make up.[81][82] The stunts were directed by Mani Ratnam and choreographed by Peter Hein, who received a Filmfare action award for the Hindi versions of Ghajini and Anniyan. For his introduction scene, the protagonist has to jump from a 90-foot high cliff near the Hogenakkal Falls into the river below.[83] This risky dive was performed by a body double, Balram, a Bangalore based former national diving champion.[84] Kalarippayattu, a martial art form origaniting from Kerala, was also featured in the film. Sunil Kumar, a Kalari gym trainer from Kozhikode, trained the actors.[85] Dancer Astad Deboo choreographed a passionate chase scene and a tandav dance between Abhishek and Aishwarya for the film.[86][87][88][89]

SoundtrackEdit

The soundtrack for the film was composed by A. R. Rahman with lyrics penned by Gulzar. It features six songs and an additional song that was performed by Rahman at the audio launch. It was released on 7 May 2010 by T-Series.

The additional track performed by Rahman, titled "Jaare Ud Jaare", was not included in the CD. The song was cited to be an "instant composition": "The night before the launch, Rahman closeted himself in his Mumbai studio and worked through the night to compose the song." This song is believed to be included in the later stages.[90] The soundtrack also features three additional songs that were featured in the movie.

The same soundtrack was used for the Tamil version of the film, titled Raavanan, and the dubbed Telugu version of the film Villain, with the lyrics for the former was penned by Vairamuthu and the latter was penned by Veturi Sundararama Murthy, which is his last work before his death in May 2010. Both the versions were released by Sony Music.[91]

ReleaseEdit

Raavan, along with its simultaneously made Tamil version Raavanan, and the dubbed Telugu version Villain, was released on 18 June 2010.

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

 
Abhishek and Aishwarya at the London premiere

Among Indian film critics, Raavan received mixed reviews and responses.[92] Rajeev Masand of IBN gave the film 1.5/5 and said, "Despite some eye-watering camerawork and a stunning action piece in the film's climax, the film -- especially its first half -- is a carelessly edited mess of long scenes that make little sense when strung together."[93] Noyon Jyoti Parasara of AOL rated it 2.5/5 and stated, "Raavan is more a choreographed musical-cum-psychological drama but without proper character backing. What makes the movie worth watching is the peaks in the second half, of course apart from the imagery."[94] Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama rated it 1.5/5 and said, "On the whole, Raavan is a king-sized disappointment, in terms of content."[95] Sukanya Venkatraghavan of Filmfare rated the film 3/5 and said, "Raavan has its moments but it lacks depth. The first half is fairly riveting but the second half slowly slips into a coma."[96] Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India rated it favourably at 3.5/5, saying, "There are enough punches in the second half to keep the momentum going, but by and large, the film scores mostly on art and aesthete."[97] Raja Sen of Rediff rated it 2/5 and said, "Raavan truly and tragically fails us is in taking one of our greatest epics, and making it unforgivably boring."[98] Parimal Rohit of Buzzine Bollywood said, "Raavan is ultimately a clever film, as it pushed the envelope on how one goes about defining who is good and who is evil."[99]

As of June 2020, Raavan holds a 67% approval rating among eighteen US and UK film critics sampled on the Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 6.02 out of 10.[100] Cath Clarke of The Guardian gave the film a rating of 2/5 and found it sexist,[101] while New York Post critic Lou Lumenick wrote, "If you're not a fan of Bollywood movies – which have long resisted crossover attempts in this country despite the success of hybrids such as Slumdog Millionaire — Mani Ratnam's action melodrama Raavan probably isn't going to make a convert out of you."[102] However, Frank Lovece of Film Journal International found it a "cracklingly stylish, suspenseful psychological drama" with "a visual sense that evokes David Fincher at his darkest", and admired the dance numbers, "one taking place somewhat naturalistically at a wedding, the other essentially a stunning war dance."[103]

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times likewise gave it positive reviews: Rachel Saltz of the former made it a Times "Critic's Pick" and lauded Ratnam as "a talented visual storyteller who directs action crisply and fills the screen with striking images" including "an eye-popping climactic battle",[104] while Kevin Thomas of the latter said the film "is replete with dizzying camerawork, myriad complications, violent mayhem, broad humor, [the] usual musical interludes, a cliffhanging climactic confrontation and a finish that strikes a note of poignancy."[105]

Box officeEdit

Raavan opened "below expectations" at the Indian box office, with the Hindi version earning Rs 60.1 million on its opening day.[106][107] In North America, Raavan opened in 120 theaters and ranked No. 15 on the domestic weekend box office chart with $760. As of May 2018, the film had a total collection of 79 crores including 29 crores from Indian box offices and 50 crores worldwide. Although it was commercially profitable (made on a budget of 55 crores) the film was declared a flop by Box Office India.[108]

Unlike its Hindi counterpart, which tanked at the box office, the Tamil version tasted success in the South.[109][110] During its opening weekend on 15 screens in Chennai, it was the number one film and netted 9 million (US$130,000), an opening weekend record then.[111][112] Though the film opened to packed houses, it slumped a little due to mixed reviews but later picked up following a local holiday.[113] The film collected $8 million at the box office in the first month of release[114] including $400,000 from Kerala.[115][116] It went on to make over 600 million at the worldwide box office and remained one of the top Tamil grossers of the year.[117] Uk opening weekend.[118] UK boxoffice second week.[119] New York boxoffice.[120][121]

Awards and nominationsEdit

6th Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards

Won[122]

  • Apsara Award for Best Cinematography – V. Manikandan (shared with Guzaarish)
  • Apsara Award for Best Re-recording – Tapan Nayak
  • Apsara Award for Best Visual Credits – Srinivas Karthik Kotamraju
  • Apsara Award for Best cinematography – Santosh Sivan

Nominated[123]

  • Apsara Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role (Female) – Priya Mani
2011 Zee Cine Awards

Nominated[124]

3rd Mirchi Music Awards

Nominated[125]

  • Upcoming Male Vocalist of The Year - Mustafa Kutoane and Kirti Sagathia - "Beera"
  • Song representing Sufi tradition - "Ranjha Ranjha"
  • Best Programmer & Arranger of the Year - A. R. Rahman - "Ranjha Ranjha"
  • Best Background Score of the Year - A. R. Rahman

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External linksEdit