NAACHGAANA
Raavan: Rocket Science Explained!
film_maker | June 30, 2010, 7:36 PM | 31 comments | 0 views


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It certainly must be rocket science, otherwise how can one explain the conflicting and bizarre feedback for the latest Mani Ratnam movie Raavan. Sample this, most Hindi audiences hate this movie, it’s a huge hit in its Tamil version down south, western critics have hailed it as a masterpiece while our popular Indian critics have trashed it. A small minority swear by this movie and a majority simply hate this movie. How is it possible that one movie can evoke such extreme reactions?

What Mani Ratnam has made is something far more controversial than the original man with ten heads. It is a debatable point whether Raavan was a bad man or a victim of circumstances, but the debate whether Raavan the movie is good or bad is even more confusing. Let me make my stand clear at the outset, I loved this movie, probably I am the only one to have watched it thrice already within the first week of release, twice in Hindi and once in Tamil, also not to forget the songs in Telugu that I play in my car daily. I have experienced it in all languages and am probably at an advantage compared to many of my other friends when it comes to interpreting this movie. Interpreting, wait a minute, what is this interpreting business? Aren’t movies meant for us to suspend disbelief and enjoy ourselves? Well, that’s where the crux of the matter lies. Let me explain further.

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31 COMMENTS
  1. Tango

    “Leaving aside the fact about good and bad, basically Ramayan is about the triumph of a north Indian over a south Indian.”

    That is the most idiotic interpretation of Ramayan that I have ever read/heard. I don’t know where he heard it.

  2. Tango

    film_maker I have spent my childhood in places like Faizabad (Ayodhya), Allahabad and one of my favourite past time as a kid was to listen to stories and most hindu mythologies from the staff allocated to my father (a very senior IAS officer) I never was given this impression.

    Raavan being a disaster looks like the biggest tragedy to have struck earth. C’mon it is another film that just did not click, like Razia Sultan, Dil Se etc.

  3. bharath

    This irrational way of interpreting North -South is the the most idiotic assessment of a movie I have ever seen.I second Tango on this.When a movie is rejected by audience then we do not find fault with geneology of its original on which it is based.It is a movie made bad by good director by a wrong casting and wrong interpretation.Period.I do not know from where people get all these interpretations.There is no South, North, East or West indian.There is only Indian- Hindusthani-Bharathiy.When Maniratnam has distorted the sacred Ramayana which is a part of 85% of Indian thought process the result will be disastrous.That is what happened to Raavan deservingly.

  4. Tango

    True – Raavan has always been referred to as ‘Lanka Naresh’ and not ‘Dakshin Naresh’ (King of Lanka not King of South) and Lanka is a seperate country and not apart of South India.

    The whole of India had supprted Ram in the fight against Raavan and it was not as if he was opposed by people of South India.

    I dont know how Mr. Kartik thinks “Ramayan is about the triumph of a north Indian over a south Indian”

  5. sandy

    Thanks for putting this up Rohit. This is a superb article actually and very insightful.

    The below para esp is wonderful…

    “. This has been one major complaint for most of the audience. But why does one need a back story when you have the Ramayan to fall back upon? Make your own interpretations. The moment one starts thinking about it there are hundreds of interpretations of each situation that one can make. I for one can write a 100 different blog posts talking of each of the topics. Things like the thin line dividing good vs bad, rich vs poor, urban vs rural, man vs woman, law vs outlaw, history vs alternate history, love & jealousy, etc. Mani Ratnam tackles all these issues with tact and gives only suggestions and doesn’t make any judgements or take sides”

    I think the point about South-North is a very valid one, and I applaud the writer for getting into the root cause of why the Hindi version suffers. I have said this too, but I really think in the Hindi version, Vikram and Abhishek are NOT a foil to each other. Is it because Abhishek is a weak Raavan? Is it because Vikram was also playing Ravanan in Tamil as he was shooting for Hindi – so not too much alteration in look? Since Ash is surrogate for the audience, she is supposed to be taken in by Raavan’s raw appeal, macho appearance and largesse of heart. Now, honestly, I thought all these qualities Vikram had as Dev, and Abhishek did not. The combination didn;t strike me as right.

  6. sandy

    Tango: You are perhaps right also, because the Ramayana that my grandma knew so well and would also recount to us (and I am a South Indian) never blurred the lines between who was right between Ram and Raavan. Since she narrated it in Tamil, I guessed both these characters were from South itself – and one was righteous and the other was a villian (not without some charm).

    I believe though that there are other versions down South of the epic which are sympathetic to Raavan. Not justifying his character, but not making him out to be an outright evil character either.

    I have a question though. IN the Tamil version, the Ragini-Veera love is quite pronounced, while it is very vague in Hindi. Could this choice be made by Ratnam taking into account how Raavan is viewed a little differently in North and South. IN the south, no one would really mind Raavan being glorified – considering the sympathy he garners, while in the Hindi version, it could have raised issues?

  7. Doga

    MNIK Boxoffice and Raavan Essays are the top 2 topics of the first half of 2010(13 mins left here for 1st July).

    I think both parties bored with each respectively can have a mutual understanding at some level, :)

  8. arora

    Well said Doga..There nneds to be some mutual understanding else the entire 2010 at NG would belong to MNIK BO and Raavan essays.

  9. rooney

    nope i disagree on raavan essays doga.. the movie just released in some 12 days ago and proper post mortem has not yet been done and whatever done is intellectual and good essays like abzees are really interesting read…

    mnik- burnout i agree.. but raavan nope.

  10. rudresh

    This is really strange logic given in favour of movie. Ramayan is triumph of north over south.

    – As Tango said Ravan was from Sri Lanka not from South India.

    -Kiskindha (sugreeb and Hanuman birthplace) is modren Karnatka. Since when Karnatka falls in North India. So does another tribe group from which Jambhant ( Reechh) belongs. In fact As a king only Sugreev fought. From north were only Ram and Laxman.

  11. rudresh

    In words of Satya Sai Baba and he is not north Indian. I really wish people stop spreading this false propaganda to justify Ravan ( He is south indian and then he is from schedule cast and their savoir, no one ask these guys that then why Balmiki, himself an outcast, choose Ram over Ravan?)

    Symbolism Of Ravana

    “Ravana is depicted as the king of Raakshasas. He is said to have ten heads. He was not born with ten heads. Who is this Ravana and what are his ten heads? Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (delusion), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride), Maatsyasya (envy), Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (will) and Ahamkara (the ego) -all these ten constitute the ten heads. Ravana is of all the ten qualities. Each one can decide for himself whether he is a Ravana or Rama according to his qualities.” Sai Baba, SS. SS. 11/91. p. 285

    Symbolism Of Rama

    “Rama is the destroyer of the bad qualities. When engaged in this act of destruction of bad qualities. He manifests his Rajo-guna. But his Rajasic quality is associated with his Satvic quality. Even in cutting off Ravana’s ten heads, Rama showed his love. This was the only way that Ravana could be redeemed.” Sai Baba, SS, 11/91. p. 285

    Rama Vs. Ravana

    “Ravana was one who was endowed with all wealth and prosperity. He lacked nothing in terms of comforts and luxuries. He had mastered the 64 categories of knowledge. His capital, Lanka, rivalled Swarga (heaven) itself in its grandeur. Instead of showing regard for Ravana, Valmiki extolled Rama, who gave up the kingdom, donned the robes of an ascetic and lived a simple life in the forest. What is the reason? It was because Rama was the very embodiment of Dharma. Everyone of his actions stemmed from Dharma. Every word he spoke was truth. Every step he trod was based on Dharma. Hence, Rama has been described as the very image of Dharma.” Sai Baba, SS, 11/91. p. 298

    Teachings From Dying Ravana For Lakshmana

    “When Ravana lay dying, Rama directed his brother, Lakshamana, to go to him and learn from him the secrets of successful statecraft. Ravana taught him that a king who is eager to win glory must suppress greed as soon as it lifts its head, and welcome the smallest chance to do good to others, without the slightest procrastination. He (Ravana) had learnt the lesson through bitter experience. Greed arises from attachment to the senses and catering to them. Put them in their proper place; they are windows for knowledge, not channels of contamination.” Sai Baba, SS, 3/92, last cover page.

    Lord’s Rajasic Acts Are Tinged By Satvic Qualities

    “When the Lord metes out a punishment, it may appear harsh. But what appears extremely as Rajasic is, in reality, Satvic. In a hailstorm, along with rain there will be hailstones. But both the rain and hailstones contain water. Likewise, there is Satvic quality even in the Lord’s Rajasic actions. Similarly, there may be Satvic quality even in Tamasic actions. These depend on the time, place and the circumstances in which the Lord acts. Butter can be split with finger. But a powerful hammer is needed to break a piece of iron. The Lord deals with Satvic persons in a Satvic way. He applies the Rajasic weapon against Rajasic persons.” „ Sai Baba, SS, 11/91. p. 285

  12. ritz

    First of all I dont have any respect for that dumbhead Sai Baba – the person who did silly magic and all – if he was born today media and andhashraddha nirmulan samiti wud have torn him away. None of his storys tell anything spiritual – its all about magic and miracles….
    Sai baba was born at the time of Rama? It is obvious he is taking references from some of the existing texts. Valmiki or someone who were biased for Rama. History can be interpreted in many ways and there is no proof that Rama was all white and Raavana was all black.

  13. rudresh

    This is from Satya Sai Baba and he is alive ritz. Amny of greats like SRT and PMs go to meet him.

    It is from his teaching and when one teach it is from wisdom he acquires from various means.

  14. ritz

    Oh so this clone is born even after Sai Baba – how come he will know what happened in past. PM and many vips go and meet Sonia Gandhi as well – touch her feet and take blessings ..does not mean she has worldly knowledge.

  15. rudresh

    One can find out few good things in character some one like Bin Laden. But that will not make Laden a hero in whole context.

    And Valmiki is not Historian nor thus Ram was king of whole India and Valimki was not even subject of Ayodhya Kingdom. He was more or less like a neutral guy.

  16. rudresh

    No Ritz only you know what happened in past and no one else.atleast I think that he is person who is at least more intelligent than anyone who writes for movies or direct them or pseudo intellectuals who consider themselves as master of cinema

  17. ritz

    Bin Laden happened at the time whole world is connected and we have counter views – media is all over and we have things written down for him which ppl across globe can reach out and read. Hindus dont have tradition of writing the exact happenings when they happened so they believe someone who writes the summary afterwards in glorious words and it is a glorified version praising someone / a myth. So there is no comparison between Bin Laden and Raavana.
    Even if Gandhiji was born today media would have shown negative side of it instantaneously ( about his kids growing up and all) rather than later after years and literally killed his image then and there. Raavana has been known not only in south but also in north as the greatest devotee to lord Shiva – as far as in Gujarat. People pray him / do the pooja at the time of Dassera there.
    I refuse to fully believe in Valmiki Ramayana as it is one sided point of view and does not reflect the reality as I see around.

  18. rudresh

    Fare. Valmiki himself as accepted that Ravan was scholar and his one head depict Budhi, intelligence also. But intelligent guy can be bad also . duffers do not have that much in them to be villian.

    Ravan was great Devotee of Lord Shiva. This is also clear to every one. No one has ever said that he was not devotee of Shiva. Near my home town Dharamshala is small town Baijnath( it has old Shiv temple and as per local belief Ravan by mistake has put Shiv lingam Here when he was taking it to Lanka from Kailash ). SO even in my hill state it is very clear that Ravan was great Brahmin.

    Brahmin’s are one who had generally written all text. Why then , In case of Ram it was an outcast who had written whole story. ( May be no Brahmin have courage to depict Brahmin King’s act)

    here is simple story: A prince , to keep his father’s word given to his step mother, went to jungle for 14 years. In last year one woman want to marry him and He rejected her and his younger brother punishes her when she asked his younger brother to do same. Girl’s brother ,who was mighty king and live in Gold city abducted Prince wife. Prince with help of Local tribal kings defeated Mighty King.

    Now tell me who is on right side and who is on wrong.

  19. ritz

    “In last year one woman want to marry him and He rejected her and his younger brother punishes her when she asked his younger brother to do same.”

    You simply write – punishes her – what was done as punishment – is there a written word (unbiased) which we can believe in? If someone cuts her nose and ears – the King is bound to react for that in the way which he did. And he never touched Sita. Fair enough.

  20. rudresh

    even Valmiki did not made Ravan villian by suggesting that he had touched Sita.

    It is all about value and beliefs, Laxman character as per story is ‘YATI” ( one who did not slept for 13 years and do not even had masturbated). Act of Ravan sister was highly disgraceful to him and he punished her by cutting her nose.

    Ravan who as per story also wanted to marry Sita( he was in Sita swayamber) used it as pretext to kidnap her. As mighty king is this natural reaction? I donot think so. If he really wanted to have revenge he would had tried to killed Laxman or fought with brothers. They both, Ram and Laxman, were not king. Then why Ravan did not had courgae to fight with them.

    He just abducted Sita,took her to place where he thought Ram will never find out her. He himself did not even try to harm a little to brothers. In a year time, he was not able to get a consent of woman to marry him and enjoy his golden Lanka. So in the story I m not finding him any where lovable.

  21. kartikdayanand

    WOW, whats going on guys? Who copied my post and put it up here? Hey Admin, at least inform the author before sourcing content from my blog.

    For the readers, hope all of you are having fun reading my post on Raavan. There is lots more on my blog http://www.minduread.com/ the place from where this post was stolen. Hope to see you all there, keep the comments coming in meanwhile, but don’t forget to visit the original website and post comments there. Also you can talk to me on twitter http://twitter.com/kartikdayanand

    Admin, i request you to please remove this post from here. If you wish, you could have a summary of my post here which leads to my blog. This is not fair. Waiting to hear from you.

    Cheers!!!
    Kartik Dayanand

  22. rudresh

    Lakshman is real hero in Moily’s Ramayana

    Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama in the epic Ramayana, was crowned the real hero of the tale in a contemporary reprise by Minister for Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily at the launch of the English translation of his book Shree Ramayana Mahanveshanam on Wednesday.
    “Lakshman was responsible for driving the engine of Ramayana. He is the real hero. Without Lakshman, Rama would not have been able to move. That is the reason, I adore him. My Ramayana should have been named Lakshmanayana,” Moily said, exhorting all to read his book to “understand its contemporary relevance”.
    The book was released by Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia at the Sathya Sai International Centre in the capital.
    The function was presided over by Jnanpith awardee Satya Vrat Shastri and was attended by Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and economist Bibek Debroy apart from several MPs and Supreme Court judges.
    The book published in two volumes was translated by a team led by B.A. Viveka Rai and they run into 1,700 pages.
    Speaking on the occasion, Kapadia said: “I am a Zoroastrian but all religions converge on three grounds – right thoughts, right words and right deeds. There is convergence. If we want the country to prosper and the people to benefit from 8-9 percent growth, we should use this power.”
    He said that the ethics enshrined in the Ramayana “should be implemented in daily lives so that India can have a more egalitarian equality with inclusive growth”.
    “If dharma includes justice and if a judge works on the basis of Indian values, he can do a lot not only for the institution, but also for the country,” he said.
    Moily is currently composing an epic poem on Draupadi, the leading lady of the Mahabharata.
    “Her character is equally important and more complex. The poem is titled Srimudi Parikrama,” Moily said.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/books/Lakshman-is-real-hero-in-Moily-s-Ramayana/Article1-565769.aspx

  23. ritz

    Thanks for the links Rudresh. I will read in detail later. All I wanted to say is there are and will be different views on many aspects..and Mani is not necessarily pseudo who glorified him.

  24. Doga

    RKB,RITZ,RKS please do what Karthik Dayanand has said, ie , post a summary and lead to his blog rather than whole article here.

    Thank you.

  25. ritz

    Hi Karthik, as a tech mod I have only kept two paras and then link to your article. As per policy we usually do post like that when posters source articles from other sources. Here although the link to source was given at the beginning it must have been a rare mistake by RKB to post full article…as RKB is not available I have made the change. Thank you for the article.

  26. bharath

    I guess who ever this Ritz who commented on Sai Baba should know that his trust is doing a great service for the people around his area by having a colleges and university for girls and super speciality hospital which has done close to 10000 bypass surgeries for poor people.Those who are doing social service should be respected.Indians even respected Mother Theresa who did conversions in the name of charity .Ritz if you do not like him no problem.But do not abuse anyone with out knowing him.He only tells everyone to live in harmony.He is not like our politicians who divide people in the name of religion and exploit people for votes.

  27. ritz

    Where did I abuse him? I called him a dumbhead – and he was a dumbhead. No doubt about it. And dont tell me about popularity of that person as a justification of his good deeds. I dont see anything positive thing in his life apart from the fact that just for the sake of it Hindus,muslims and other religions visit that place – forget about harmony outside of it. It has become a dump ground of all the black money in the country. Saal me 10-15 Cr black me kamao aur fir 50 lakh donate karo Sai baba ko – sab gunah maaf!! My anger is not even because of the money that foundation is getting – I have read his stories and they are as dumb as they can get – all faltu magic and tricks ….. I will respect someone like Gadge Baba or in recent times Baba Ramdev who have done some ground work for society than that Hukka smoker.

  28. bharath

    I do not want to join issue with you, Ritz, but as RKS mentioned it is a matter of faith.I do not know to which faith you belong but the same words and language that used above like dumbhead, hukka smoker are used by anyone against your believing Entity, then you get offended.Most of the religious beginners for the past 2000 years too did the same magics and tricks ..and people are believing them..because that concerns faith.As for as black money is concerned, most of the money that is coming into India by christian missionaries and other religious institutions too are black money that is coming from west and middle east ..

    A for as Raavan is concerned, he is called Ravana Brahma…as you rightly pointed out he is the greatest devotee of Shiva in his times..even Rama before commencing the war against Raavan wanted to perform Shiva Puja ..then he was given advise to invite Raavan to perform Shiva Puja as Raavan was the greatest Shiva devotee in those times..and Raavan came and did the puja..but that does not exonerate taking away Sita from Rama…for the actions of his he was punished..

    No offence meant towards you bro..

  29. ritz

    I am sorry if your feelings are hurt and I have offended you. Sincerely. I should not have used some words to express my opinion to put my POV across (which I still stand by)…

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