The much hyped Mani Ratnam movie 'Raavan' has died an instant death at the ticket counters. In fact Reliance Big Pictures has lost over 100 Crores thanks to Raavan and Kites, another over-hyped movie that ended up as a dud.
We have witnessed the immensely stupid madcap 'House-full' and the half-baked Political Potboiler 'Raajneeti' turn into Big success stories. But why did Raavan not work? Till the day of release, it had everything going for it and then it was sudden death. Experts have given a list of reasons for the debacle. I am not an expert. These are the 5 reasons for an average movie buff who grew up watching Mani Ratnam.
1] Mani Matters: When it comes to 'Money Matters', Mani matters much less compared to his critical mass appeal. He has made many critically acclaimed movies down south. But most of his movies have done only average business at the box-office in the Hindi heartland. In fact, his movies like 'Dil Se' and 'Yuva' were commercial flops. His last movie, 'Guru' too was an also ran. You can't judge the worth of a Mani movie based on Money Matters alone.
2] Age is catching up: No, not with Mani, he is only 53. But his audience has grown old. I still am a Mani Ratnam follower. Having grown up on Mani's movies since Agni Nakshatram and Geethanjali to Guru, I can talk for my generation. The generation that adored Mani has grown into their late thirties and even mid-forties. It is not this crowd that decides the fate of movies today. It is the teens and the twenty somethings who make a hit or a flop. And they couldn't relate to a story of a a shrieking beauty sandwiched between her Polygraph loving husband and a demented looking tribal warlord.
3] Marriage of Inconvenience: Mani tried to marry Indian Mythology to Stockholm Syndrome. The Dravidian spirit of the Tamil audience can accept Sita developing a soft corner for her captor Raavan while being held a hostage. But it is tough to expect rest of India to accept the role reversal in Ramayan; even in the year 2010. Without mentioning his inspiration and without the name Raavan, Mani perhaps had a better chance to succeed.
4] The Beauty and the Beast without Star Power: Vikram is a Gigantic Star on Tamil Screen. Junior Bachchan's Star Power in Hindi Filmdom doesn't quite match up to it. If sincerity and earnest nature were enough make a Star, Aby's Baby would have ruled Bollywood. But he perhaps lacks the X-Factor. Playing the Beast, he came second best to Vikram. And his more famous wife just couldn't carry the film on her slender shoulders. So while Raavan bombed, Vikram's Raavanan is doing fairly well in Tamilnadu!
5] North South Divide: In spite of making pretty decent movies, South Indian Directors get a raw deal from the predominantly north oriented press and electronic media. Taran Adarsh is an honorable man. But he uses different yardsticks to review different movies. He gave a four star status review to Sajid Khan's masterpiece in imbecility called 'House-full' and one and a half stars to 'Raavan'. Is there a design behind the Critics being too harsh on Priyadarshan, Ramgopal Varma, R. Balki and Mani Ratnam? I believe there is something in it! Let me be pardoned if I am wrong, but this point needs some consideration.
Finally we have to face the truth that Mani Ratnam's Raavan is truly dead and buried at the box office. This wasn't his best movie, but it wasn't his worst too. We haven't yet forgotten Tiruda Tiruda! So I sincerely hope Mani will rediscover his magic soon!