If it wasn't for the overall average camerawork, direction and editing, Raavan is a visual stunner whose adapted story employs a noteworthy thought-provoking concept.
After Ragini re-locates to a distant settlement called Lal Matti with her husband Dev, the head of the police, she becomes entangled in her husband's case to apprehend a bandit named Beera. In an attempt to seek revenge against the police, Beera kidnaps Ragini and intends to kill her. After seeing that Ragini is as fearless as he is, he keeps her in captivity, but releases any intention to kill her. Throughout the fourteen days that they are together the chemistry between the two characters boil just enough for the audience to understand and enjoy the presence of an underlying love between Beera and Ragini. As the passion subtly but powerfully buds, the plot becomes atypical to the original story when Ragini is finally simultaneously released by Beera and rescued by Dev. It is during these moments that the portrayal of Ravana (demon) and Ram (God) flip back and forth between Beera and Dev. The climax hits these points brilliantly.
Though the first half of the film was a bit slow, it establishes a strong foundation for the audience to better understand the chemistry of the ending. The beginning helped me define the characters in terms of good and evil, but as the story progressed, we felt Ragini's experience as the lines between Ram and Raavana blurred in and out between Beera and Dev.
Yes the movie boasted one of Bollywood's most popular couples as the protagonists, but one proved better over the other. Aishwariya had a decent performance, using a lot of facial expressions to complement and better express her character's feelings. Abhishek on the other hand, didn't come off as convincing as a monster, but rather as a fool at times. I feel like he tried hard to portray a maniac monster, but didn't live up to par. With a deeper connection with the Beera character there were times where he didn't take advantage of potentially great scenes and fell short of a magnificent performance. His character's brother definitely proved as himself as the best actor overall in the film though.
If this film would be recognized for anything, it would be for it's stunning sets, backgrounds, and overall visuals. Besides the setting, the camera work often caught the essence of the character. Examples at the top of my head: Provided she didn't have the longest dialogue, Aishwariya's eyes often expressed her character the most. Beera's reflection in the broken mirror in the camp was also a good visual.
Few songs were worth listening to, the others were useless and forced into the movie, often wasting time. Also, Mani Ratnam's attempt to dramatize Beera's evil presence by adding melodramatic clips of music was unnecessary; subtle, mild low undertones would have done better.
Honestly, I was disappointed by the camerawork of the movie. I was expecting to be blown away, but there were only some moments in scenes that were noteworthy. Otherwise the direction was average; I expected more precise angles that better captured a moment/symbolism better. (Example: when Ragini was injured on the tree branch looking at her reflection in the water we couldn't see Beera's reflection and his expression clearly. Obviously Rutnam intended for the scene to capture the two reflections in the water, but it didn't pull through).
Though the film had disappointing camerawork, editing and direction, its strong core of an adapted-original story and concept along with excellent, original visuals (in all aspects) makes it a movie worth watching at home especially if you are in a philosophical mood.