Dilemma of Seetha – in short, that is what Mani Ratnam tries to sell in Villain. In Mani Ratnam’s Ramayana, Rama is not the hero but the villain.
A Mani Ratnam adaptation of one of India’s epic masterpieces – Ramayanam. Instead of crossing a sea to get his wife, the Ram (played by Prithvi Raj) of this tale needs to go up a mountain through a forest cover to win back his Sita (Ragini played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) from Raavana, a dalit king in this context (Veerayya aka Veera played by Vikram).
Karthik (the star of the yester year Mani Ratnam films) plays the Hanuman, Prabhu is the Kumbakarna (brother of Raavana) and characters such as Priyamani (Surpanaka, Raavana’s sister) and Raavana’s younger brother are the other inspirations which can be spotted.
All though great performances are available all around, the one actor that stands out is the ten headed KING. I wouldn’t want to mention the name of the actor playing Raavan because it reminds me again that it is just an actor with a written set of words to recite.
Think of situation wherein you watch some foreign film and instantly fall in love with an actor whose name you don’t know. You’ve never seen him before nor heard of him and you keep referring to him as the guy who played that character in that film or may be remember him by his character name. That’s a romantic thought to live with. Veera played by Vikram is that kind of a thought.
Prithvi Raj with all the calm of Ram is also a performance to watch out for.
When it’s a Mani Ratnam film you don’t have to tell in particular about the visuals or the music or the costumes or the ‘thats’ and the ‘thises’. Then again, you just cannot stop thinking about the visuals the film had to offer. They were such a treat that watching the film in mute shouldn’t be a bother.
But, what’s new in this film is the touch of the abstract. Whenever Veera is thinking of something, a series of quick cuts from various angles and moods are shown. This is a brilliant reference to the ten headed thought process of Raavana (bak bak baka bak). And also the simplicity and yet a complex aura the screenplay creates.
Not a film for the masses (so to speak in line with conventional wisdom). A film that paces itself the way it wants and a real treat for anybody who can get into the mood and travel with the characters.