About Me

My photo
London, Leicester and Kerala
I am a Medical Doctor, born and brought up in Kerala, settled in England for last 17 years. Interested in almost any and every field under the sun. I believe in 'Simple living and simple thinking'and try to follow this principle in life...This is a snapshot of what I wish to write; my biggest contributions (if any) are still under the iceberg!

Visits so far

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Raavanayanam

The new Mani Ratnam movie Raavanan (Tamil version) or Raavan (Hindi version) has brought the major epic 'Ramayana' again as a hot debate topic.This epic as told by Valmiki is the story of the 'perfect man' Rama and his accomplishments. But shouldn't it be called 'Raaavanayanam' as this epic is as much the story of Raavana as is it of Rama based on the perspective, how we look at it? Perhaps if there was another 'Valmiki' and if he had made Raavana as the central character, the whole aspect of this struggle between good and evil and moral and immoral would be viewed completely differently.

Ravana's characterization is open to interpretations.The name Ravana is from 'ra' meaning the sun and 'vana' signifying generation. He is the great grandson of Lord Brahma. A metaphorical interpretation of Ravana's 10 heads is that the heads are a symbolic way to show the world about his knowledge of the six Shastras as well as four Vedas, ten Holy Scriptures in all.

Even though Ravana is portrayed as the villain in Ramayana, this view is open to question due to lack of any overt instances, and is so questioned by a considerable number of believers. It can be argued, for example, that Ravana’s abduction of Sita was not driven by lust for her, but instead it was done to punish Ram for attacking his sister Shurpanakha. What Lakshmana did to her ie cutting of her nose for proposing to him after Rama rejected her was a reaction out of proportion to what Shurpanakha did. It may be that Lakshmana did this for fear of Sita's safety. The extreme nature of the act upon his unarmed sister enraged Ravana (as a brother) and he abducted Sita to avenge the insult- if Ravana would not avenge his own sister - then no one would look up to him as a protector of his subjects/ dependents. Nevertheless Ravana never ever touched Sita while she was being held as his hostage. He visited her regularly and asked her consent to marry him. Every time Sita declined, but there is not a single instance when Ravana misbehaved with Sita. He plays the role of a gentleman to the core, (though this could have been due to a curse from Kubera's son that he would lose all his 10 heads if he forced himself on any woman).

Ravana also authored Ravana Sanhita, a powerful book on the Hindu astrology. Ravana possessed a thorough knowledge of Ayurveda and political science. He is said to have possessed the nectar of immortality, which was stored under his navel, thanks to a celestial boon by Brahma. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave to him the divine sword 'Chandrahasa'. Ravana was a lifelong devotee of Lord Shiva and is said to have composed the hymn known as Shiva Tandava Stotra.

Mani Ratnam's movie, Raavan (Hindi) and Raavanan(Tamil), clearly inspired by this epic was a movie I had been waiting for some time since I heard of it a couple of years ago.

I went to watch the Tamil version first and had to go all the way to Birmingham to watch it. But the trip was worth it as the movie was simply wonderful. It was stimulating and entertaining...a great treat- the photography, music, script, location, direction and above all the performances of Vikram (as Raavanan), Prithviraj(as Rama) and Aishwariya (as sita).

Vikram was amazing and I felt he brought out the various expressions and emotions of the tribal leader Veera to all its glory.He acted as though he had 'ten heads' with varying facial expressions. Prithviraj as Dev (the police officer) and Aishwarya (as his wife) also had a chemistry together and did well. Aishwarya's transformational change of feelings towards both men were enacted superbly. This would probably stand out as one of her best performances possibly after her debut movie 'Iruvar'.

I then watched the Hindi version (in Leicester) and I must say that it was disappointing! Though the back ground artists were all the same, the central character Beera (Raavana) by Abhishek Bachchan was at the best average, especially if we compare it with the performance of Vikram in the Tamil version. I will not be surprised, if in the future Raavanan (Tamil) would be considered a huge hit among Mani Ratnam's movies and Raavan(Hindi) as an average film.

I was also impressed by the interviews given by the artists at the London Premiere of the movie. These interviews in the 'you tube' are also a good hit! Prithviraj was quite eloquent and articulate in his comments. Vikram and Suhasini(who wrote the script) were also quite impressive. But both Mr and Mrs Junior Bachchans were depressing in their words especially if you see that the crowds were cheering almost just for them. They could have been a bit more prepared to face the interviews at such a landmark venue.

After reading Ramayana, two questions, every firm believer of Lord Rama would love to avoid are
1.How could the divine person hide behind the trees and murder Bali/ Vali (brother of Sugreeva) behind his back?
2.Why did he suspect Sita and later ditched her?

In this film these two aspects are brought up in a sublime manner. Dev, the inspector is hiding in crowd of women and shoots Veera from behind when he is actively taking part in his sisters marriage ceremony. Also later to accomplish his mission of destroying Veera, Dev starts questioning his wife about her chastity and asks why she could not take a lie-detector test!

I have never found any convincing answers for these actions of Lord Rama. It might be that he wanted to give an impression that even the 'perfect human being' can never be perfect and will have some negative connotations left to ones own interpretation.

Tail piece: I hope in the future some one will make a movie on Mahabharata with Karna (my favourite person in the epic) as the central character.

9 comments:

dsreeji said...

As always chetta, your blog has made for very interesting reading. Raavan is deemed a flop here in Delhi and it was good to know that the Tamil version was much better than the Hindi one. We'll go for Raavanan instead now :)

PCV said...

Thanks Divya...I can understand to some extent why people cannot 'digest' the core theme of the movie ie Rama as 'villian' and Raavanan as a hero! This is contrary to the popular belief that is held for many centuries in India. What Mani Ratnam and Suhasini have done is turning this myth on its head and looking at it from the point of view of Raavanan. This has definitely given some new food for thought...

Manoj said...

It is a very interesting read. You have really captured the essence of Ramayana. Well Done !!

I completely agree with your point that Ravanan was considered as a very bad element in the epic. I think he was destined to do something such that Rama can overthrow him. I never bothered to look at the brighter side of Ravanan till now and in that respect it is an eye opener to me.

The recently released Hindi movie Rajneethi has Karnan in it along with few other Mahabharatha characters. Ajay Devagan portrays that character.

PCV said...

Thanks Manoj...You are right..There is a version that Raavana all the way knew that Rama was an avatar of Lord Vishnu.However, since there was no other way for him to reach to Vishnu, he had to cultivate all the negative connotations of wickedness, violence and hatred, and invite Rama to kill him. Of course, this might also be called a type of devotion or bhakthi that is stupid. But his ultimate aim was to attain Moksha and liberate himself from the cycle of life and death and therefore, through that act of surrender to Lord Vishnu.

Thanks for letting me know about Rajneethi...I look forward to watching it:)

Chandran Nair said...

Very well articulated . THANK YOU

謝佑芝 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

kumaran said...

Rajneeti turned out to be a better interpretation of Mahabharata than what Mani would make out with Ravananan

quote for moving said...

Hi you are doing a great job. I was looking for this information. I found it on your page its really amazing.I am sure that these are your own views. I hear exactly what you’re saying and I’m so happy that I came across your blog. You really know what you’re talking about, and you made me feel like I should learn more about this. Thanks for sharing useful information; I’m officially a huge fan of your blog.

raincitymoving said...

Vancouver movers