A group of tribals led by Singarasan(Prabhu) attacks the cops, killing and maiming them. Meanwhile, a small boat carrying Ragini(Aishwarya Rai) is rammed into by a bigger boat. Veeraiya aka Veera(Vikram) stands tall on the attacking boat. Dev(Prithviraj), a police officer, get a call from his colleague. His colleague tells him about the abduction of his wife Ragini by Veera.
Dev who was already on a mission to destroy Veera embarks on hunt to track down Veera and save his wife. When Dev and his officers reach the entrance of the forest, Gnanaprakasham(Karthik) blocks the way. He is a forest officer who knows his way around the forest. He joins Dev’s team.
Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Veera and his gang drags Ragini to the top of a waterfall to kill her. But, Veera is not able to pull the trigger. Ragini refuses to be killed by Veera and jumps into the waterfall! From then, the movie details the cat and mouse game between Veera and Dev from then. It also focuses shifting loyalties and blurring black and white divides in the mind of Ragini.
Mani Ratnam directs this movie which is based on Ramayana wherein he tries to tell the story from the perspective of Raavan! His vision is translated to screen by two cinematographers - Santosh Sivan and V Manikandan. Mani and his cinematographers weave magic into the screen giving us never before seen locations without leaving India and romanticizing these locations. The chase happens during the monsoon. Check the color and thickness of the forest! The atmosphere is foggy! The scenes near the waterfall are so wet that your body temperature drops couple of notches just by watching it! Mani ensures that all his actors stay in character despite harsh climatic conditions. The camera takes on different roles – extreme close up where the screens are filled by the actors and profiles that are extremely stylish; the noted being the camera revolving around Veera while he talks to Ragini on the small circular boat that is being playfully turned by children. Mani effectively uses CGI for some of the action scenes like Ragini falling off the cliff, Sakkarai falling down the cliff after getting shot and final spectacular fight between Veera and Dev on the hanging bridge. The background score by A R Rahman helps in heightening the drama at most places where it is not too loud. In sync with Mani’s earlier movies, the songs are interspersed with dialogues.
But Mani miserably fails in the screenplay credited to him. The movie starts with a bang and the pace slackens after the initial 20 minutes. The story which is actually a study on Stockholm Syndrome fails to connect the audience with the growing admiration of Ragini towards Veera. These scenes are not established. The sensual play between Veera and Ragini which is supposed to be the height of sexual stimulation between the two fall flat and ends up as two people moving across each other without touching in a very wet place! Veera’s story before the abduction justifies the villain and make him a hero once the flashback ends. But Dev is conveniently ignored to epitomize the self centered man. This is the biggest drawback of the movie. Moreover, Gnanaprakasham in the introduction scene jumps from one tree to the another which ends up looking like a failed attempt to copy the Hong Kong action techniques which defies gravity! This scene is enough to give out which character from Ramayana is this role is based on! Similarly, the nose act by Vennila(Priyamani) is also a giveaway for the origins of the character.
With breathtaking visuals, the performances usually take a backseat. Vikram gives in a sincere performance and get himself noticed among the fog, the rain, the dirt and even the turmeric! He has tried his best to turn around the weak characterization by his strong portrayal! But he is loud in doing so thereby making his Veera an emotionally unstable yet brilliant man.
The movie revolves around Aishwarya’s Ragini! But she is not able to deliver, never being able to match the energy of Vikram. She looks mismatched with Prithviraj. Ultimately, she ends up trying all through the movie. Prabhu and Karthik has nothing much to do. They end up as playing sidekicks to Vikram and Prithviraj respectively.
Prithviraj springs a surprise in a very short role which appears evenly spaced in the narrative; making us overlook the length. It is his cold portrayal of Dev which makes us actually go back to Ramayana and think about the ethics of Ram. It is ironic that his character makes us think about the epic in a whole new light and not Raavan’s!
If you have seen Paruthiveeran, then you know the reason why Priyamani was selected as Vennila. What happens in Paruthiveeran happens in Raavanan too. But unlike Paruthiveeran, it happens offscreen and the event unfolds in the form of a conversation between Vennila and Veera. Without going overdramatic, Priyamani uses the right expressions to tell us the horror. The credit goes to Priyamani and then Mani Ratnam.
The movie loses the tempo after 20 minutes and degenerates from a fast paced to thriller to slow paced nothing! If you are a Mani Ratnam fan, go for it! The other reason you can choose to see this to find out the most beautiful places in India during rains.