After a hiatus of sorts, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are in the news again. The power couple of Bollywood stars in Mani Ratnam’s Raavana / Raavan movie which releases on June 18, 2010.
Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus – a modern take on the Ramayana – also stars Tamil actor Vikram and Govinda. The soundtrack for the film – also being made in Tamil – is composed by Academy Award-winner A.R.Rahman.
As the movie is being made in two languages, there is a bit of a problem when we write about it. The Hindi version’s name is spelt Raavan according to the trailer, but in some of the posters which were leaked, the name was spelt as Ravan. The Tamil version is spelt Raavana in English.
Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan have done quite a few movies together – Dhai Akshar Prem Ke, Kuch Naa Kaho, Umrao Jaan, Dhoom 2 (in which they were not paired) and Mani Ratnam’s Guru. Of these, only Dhoom 2 and Guru were successes. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan hasn’t had a very good couple of years. Her only releases were The Pink Panther 2 (ho-hum) in 2009 and Sarkar Raaj (hmm) and Jodhaa Akbar (hit) in 2008. Abhishek Bachchan had Sarkar Raaj (hmmm), Drona (big miss) and Dostana (hit) in 2008, following them up with Paa and Delhi-6 (both critically acclaimed, but not very big box office successes)
Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan must be hoping that Mani Ratnam’s upcoming movie Ravaana will turn the tide in their favour. The director’s earlier film, Guru, was lucky for Abhiash on the personal front – they announced their engagement after the film was premiered in Toronto.
As of now, the star couple isn’t staying in the shadows. Abhishek Bachchan and wife Aishwarya Rai are busy on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Aishwarya, in fact, seems to have taken it upon herself to convince mom-in-law Jaya to join Twitter.
“A big hello from maa, I am insisting her 2 join Twitter,” Aishwarya Rai Bachchan posted on her Twitter account recently. The Big B prefers to remain busy with his blog.
Back to Raavan. The film will reportedly be premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France this year. Mani Ratnam was thinking of premiering the bilingual film at IIFA in Seoul later this year, but seems to have decided on Cannes now – Raavan (the Hindi version) will be premiered at the festival on May 14. Raavan was originally set for release in 2009.
Believed to be an adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayana, there’s a twist in the Raavana tale. Do not expect a full, modern version of the Ramayana here. From what we here, there are some similarities, but there is enough room for Mani Ratnam to claim innocence if anyone accuses him of denigrating Ramayana. The main female character played by Aishwarya Rai is abducted by Abhishek Bachchan (who is the ‘Raavan’ in the Hindi version of the movie. When Vikram, her husband, questions her chastity, she feels sympathetic towards the ‘Raavan’.
Is Mani Ratnam deliberately courting trouble? Just consider the recent controversies over My Name is Khan starring Shahrukh Khan, or the anger in Mumbai over the use of the name Bombay in the movie Wake Up Sid are examples. Let’s hope Mani Ratnam knows what he is doing!
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are the lead pair in the Hindi version of Raavana. Abhishek is Raavana, Aishwarya plays Sita, Vikram is Rama and Govinda plays a character inspired by Hanuman. In the Tamil version of the movie titled Raavana, Vikram plays Raavana opposite Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Suhasini, Mani Ratnam’s wife, also makes her Bollywood debut with Raavana. Ravi Kissen plays Abhishek’s trusted aide whereas Nikhil Dwivedi plays a cop.
The movie has been produced by Mani Ratnam’s sister Sharda under Ratnam’s banner Madras Talkies. According to unofficial sources, composer A R Rahman has reused two songs he composed earlier – one for Aamir Khan’s shelved film Lajjo and a qawwali composed for Jodhaa Akbar.
Recent media reports suggested that Abhishek Bachchan’s character in Raavan is also based on Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy’s character. Sources said Mani Ratnam was keen to have a strong element of contemporary history in his film – something that’s been seen in earlier films like Roja (terrorism in Kashmir), Bombay (the communal riots in Mumbai), Yuva (college politics) and Guru (a biopic on Dhirubhai Ambani’s life).
However, Abhishek Bachchan has rubbished those reports. “Another piece of great reportage by our ever dependable media. My character in Raavana is NOT based on any Maoist,” he Tweeted recently.
Director Mani Ratnam is reportedly unsure about how to end his film. He is said to have shot four options in Malshej, but no one knows which one will be final. In the first alternative (which could be controversial), Raavan wins over Sita; in the second, she treads the conventional path and returns to Rama; in the third alternative, Raavan dies; and in the fourth, Rama dies.
Even unit members are not aware of which climax will finally make it to the silver screen. Will the Hindi Raavan and the Tamil version Raavana have the same climax? No one’s sure of that either.
Shooting schedules for the film were rigorous and the three principal actors suffered injuries and viral illnesses. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan proved to be the toughest among the three. Co-star Vikram said he had never seen any actress do the kind of stunts Aishwarya has done in Raavana. He added that he had never seen any actress look so beautiful in such difficult circumstances.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan also won over the production crew by dubbing her own lines in Tamil for the film. A Tamil tutor coached the actress during the shooting of Raavana, and she reportedly got the accent and tone pat. Aishwarya will also be dubbing her own lines for another Tamil movie , Shankar’s Endhiran, co-starring Rajnikanth.
The recent Swami Nithyananda sex scandal has also brushed Raavana. Tamil film star Ranjitha, who was allegedly filmed in a compromising position with Swami Nithyananda, plays the role of Raavana’s sister-in-law in the Tamil version of the film.