Sunday, May 16, 2010

The run-up to ‘Raavanan’

Being different without ado has been Mani Ratnam's forte and the promo event of “Raavanan” held a couple of days ago exemplified it further. After a soft launch of the score of the Rahman-Ratnam-Vairamuthu combo a week earlier, Mani Ratnam went in for a 10-minute teaser of the movie that should hit the screens in June, peppering it with a hit song and a dance number, both performed live, and crisp emceeing by actors Karthik and Priya Mani.

Friendly, off-the cuff banter marked the stage presence of the masters of ceremonies, veteran actor Karthik and Priya Mani, who introduced the events without actually spelling them out. (It's sad that the fit-looking Karthik chose to be in hibernation for so long. He now makes a comeback with films that include “Raavanan”) Singer Karthik's presentation of ‘Usirae Pogudhae,' was a striking start on a set that sparkled with greenery.

Once the curtains rose and you saw the stage that resembled a forest of muted green and brown, probably in tune with the ambience of “Raavanan,” I realised art director's Rajeevan's diligence that had gone into the creation. No wonder, he looked so anxious! The subdued lighting enhanced the appeal.

Vikram's footwork for ‘Kodu Potta Konnu Podu,' with a whole lot of dancers on the proscenium, was as intense as it was dramatic! Gasping for breath after the sequence, Vikram pointed to Mani Ratnam when Karthik asked about his homework for the role and his approach to it. The steps for Vikram's dance on stage did choreographer Brinda proud!

With a smile, Prithviraj, who obviously plays the softer pivot to the fiery Ravaanan, said he didn't find the remote locations, rigorous routine and the gruelling schedules difficult. It was romancing with Aishwarya Rai that was tough — the beauty had him bowled over, he sighed, as Priya Mani dragged him away before he could go on ... The mellifluous ‘Kalvarae …' number with Prithvi and Rai followed and you could understand the import of Prithvi's words. Rai dazzles and her screen presence is still riveting! So “Raavanan” watchers had better gear up for a beauteous assault!

A.R. Rahman and Vairamuthu came together on stage to present the song — ‘Veeran Vidai Perugiraan' — not found in the disc. The compelling words of the lyric are yet another example of Vairamuthu's spontaneity as a verse writer. Rahman sang it without BGM and at the end of a few lines, smiled and concluded with a modest, self-conscious comment, “It goes something like that.”

The music wizard who generally restricts himself to a word or two, opened up a little and even teased Vairamuthu about Ratnam turning lyric writer when he wasn't available. “Why just Mani, even you do it! That's why I don't go away for too long. I know the kind of competition I have to face,” laughed Vairamuthu.

The only person who didn't say a word throughout was Mani Ratnam. As actor Prabhu mentioned, it may be his nature, but on occasions such as this one, people would wish to listen to at least a couple of words from the maker.

If planning is a prerequisite for success Mani Ratnam proved adept at it. He had one item smoothly gliding into another in meticulous fashion. And if Ratnam intended the curtain raiser to kindle a lot of curiosity and expectation, he won hands down!

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