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Raavan's Bachchan and Rai Do The Ramayana: Badly

by Anne Thompson
June 21, 2010 5:02 AM
  • |
Thompson on Hollywood

Big-budget Bollywood adventure Raavan, starring the golden couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai--from writer-director Mani Ratnam, director of Guru, with a rousing score by Slumdog Millionaire Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman--is a big overwrought dud. It's one of those dead-serious over-scale extravaganzas that boasts lavish resources--visual effects, swirling cameras, stunning scenery and lavish musical numbers--and comes up short. It's basically India's Robin Hood in more ways than one--all that money can buy in the way of production value and star power, but a big so-what? In some ways, Bachchan is playing chest-beating primitive King Kong to Rai's lovely Fay Wray.

Reliance opened the violent action romance this weekend on 119 screens stateside; Raavan ranked fifteen on the box office chart with an estimated gross of $551,375. Review links and trailer are on the jump.

Oddly, this mythic, primal retelling of The Ramayana (with touches of mud-splotched tribes running amuk in the jungle, cum Apocalypse Now) was treated roughly by Indian critics but was well-reviewed here from the likes of the NYT and THR. The Village Voice was more circumspect. Here's Metacritic. UPDATE: Here's an assessment of why American critics tend to give Bollywood a free pass.


  • indian | August 3, 2010 5:34 AMReply

    i'm indian, movie is s**t, re: kites, vegas ala 70's

  • Shabnam | July 6, 2010 4:55 AMReply

    Giya, Raavan is superb movie and some Indians have no taste and insight for good movies. I am proud to be Indian not living in India. Raavna is still not over.

  • Giya | June 28, 2010 6:01 AMReply

    Jill - how many Indian films have you seen? I doubt you've seen even a measurable fraction of the 900+ films produced yearly in Bollywood.

    Recently HOLLYWOOD theatres released an Indian movie called Kites...I suggest that you take your white hood off long enough to watch it. It garnered rave reviews and received acclaimed footing at the NORTH AMERICAN box office. It is not alone. Indian movies have been showcased at international film festivals (such as Cannes) for years, often to high acclaim.
    It is unfortunate that Slumdog Millionnaire was the movie to put Bollywood on the map, but it often pumps out some real winners...with some plotlines unseen in Hollywood.
    I am fortunate to be North American by birth and Indian by descent...allowing me to speak many languages, and indulge in two vastly different but rich cultures...enjoying quality entertainment from each.

    Honey, try not to be so short-sighted, it's very unbecoming.

  • Jill | June 23, 2010 10:16 AMReply

    Indians are not that advance in thinking about good movies.

  • Javed | June 21, 2010 9:32 AMReply

    It is great movie. You must see Raavna.

  • rgm | June 21, 2010 1:39 AMReply

    Nina Paley's brilliant animation Sita Sings the Blues covers the same myth with wit and great style. !00% tomatometer the last time I looked.

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