This review is in reference to Raavanan and not Ravan.
If you are a Mani Ratnam fan and you step in to the movie theatre with that notion, you'll certainly not be disappointed. Though the movie begins slowly leaving the viewer not much of a choice but to wonder what the heck is going on, it picks up pace and before you realize, you reach the intermission. Then comes the real treat.
I liked the second half much much better than the first half. All references to Ramayana (either direct or indirect) make one realize only Maniratnam can pull such things off with his well thought out story line. I loved the way how the story showcases the incidents from Ramayana such as Surpanaga (Ravana's sister and as to how the whole story erupts from her incident), Vibheeshana being a slightly good/smarter guy in an otherwise 'Arakkar' clan, the 'hide and kill' Vaali episode (though indirect), most of the actions of Hanuman and of course the 'lie detector' usage against Sita.
Some of these references while being direct, some of the others were dragged into the story, but never did I think it did not make sense at any point. Though the story itself is a major success for the movie, the best part according to me is the location and the camera work. The amount of diligent thought and hard work that has gone into researching the location for every single scene becomes evident as one watches the movie.
The 'bridge' fight towards the end of the movie was breathtaking. I couldn't say if any technical assistance/graphics went into the contribution of the fight sequence here, but my eyes could detect none. I would rate that as one of the best fighting sequences made in any tamil movie (though not long enough!). Music by thala A R Rahman was pretty decent (I refer to BGM and not songs here).
Climax is a very important part of any movie as it creates the final impression with which the viewer walks out of the movie hall and just as in every one of his movies, Mani has created a climax that can't be more fitting than this. Though I could think of 3 to 4 different ways this movie could have ended, Mani definitely steered the movie to the best climax one could think of! I liked this movie more because of the climax than all the other aspects put together.
Through out the movie, there are multiple times when you think Prithviraj as the hero and Vikram as the villain and that sort of keeps alternating. The whole flow of emotions in the viewer's mind is well perceived by Mani. The topic of who ends up as the hero/villain is indeed debatable and as I walked out the theatre, I felt neither of them can be called as the hero nor the villain. I felt the characters had their own reasoning.
I give pretty much all the credit to Mani, but to be fair, Vikram, Prithviraj and Aiswarya have all done their role very well. Prabhu, Karthik and Priyamani were so-so (not that they had a strong role anyways!)
This movie simplistically explains how an epic can be delineated in today's world, that too in a different style. Overall, this movie is a definite watch once at least, if not more than once!