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.