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Raavan's Bachchan and Rai Do The Ramayana: Badly

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 21, 2010 at 5:02AM

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.
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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.

This article is related to: Genres, Video, Reviews, Summer Movies, Bollywood , Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.