Partly because I wanted to watch both the Hindi & the Tamil versions and partly because the Husband has cribbed umpteen number of times that I do not go to Tamil movies as per his wish and also because the rigours of translating the hindi Raavan would be too taxing, we watched Raavanan and not Raavan.
I or rather the both the husband and me are among the few who did not find the movie disappointing. I often say that my standards of expecation from a movie is not very high. But, I can also manage to lose interest in the whole movie if it doesn't catch my attention right in the first 10 minutes. Which is why I was appalled when I was watching the retard LSD and Luck by Chance inspite of rave reviews from many quarters.
By that yardstick, Raavanan managed to keep my attention intact throughout. If I compare with other movies, Maniratnam or otherwise, it wasn't the nail biting, bum-on-the-edge of the chair type movie like Roja, Bombay, Lagaan or even Dil Se. It was a good but predictable story line. Pains have been taken to make the Ramayan parallels obvious- even though it was not necessary and sometimes downright ridiculous- Hanuman equivalent or the Agni Pariksha equivalent for example.
In Ramayan, Ram is good but his character sketch is not without the trappings and limitations of his human avatar whereas Ravan is a highly "vidwaan" evil king whose punishment is pre-ordained because of his certain evil deeds.
These shades of grey in Ram (Dev) and glimpses of white in Raavan (Veera) are the turning points in Raavanan.
In fact the white is so very strong in Raavan that I found myself siding with him more than the hero. The shift from terrorizing to empathising to supporting the villain is very subtle and without even realizing one begins to sympathise with the character of Raavan more than that of Sita.
Ram is the guy who will not give up, despite what is at stake - he will even stake what is at stake in the first place for his larger objective- the greater good.
Whereas Raavan- he will not hesitate to give up his bargaining tool for the sake of the bargaining tool itself- heart ruling the head?
Vikram has played the "10 heads" to perfection- he is truly central to the movie and you miss him when he is not in the frame.
When I sat to analyse Aishwarya's performance, I realized that it can be summed up in expressions which conveyed much more than dialogues and hysterical screams, yet kept the viewers guessing till the end- and that, in my opinion is worth an applause.
I loved Behne de the best and the rest of the songs- well- they grew on me slowly and get played on a continuous loop nowadays.