Raavanan is a 2010 Indian Tamil-language epic action-adventure film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Mani Ratnam.The film features Vikram, Prithviraj and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead roles, with a supporting cast led by Karthik, Prabhu and Priyamani. Raavanan follows the crux of the epic Ramayana, with a ruthless police officer on the chase to find a tribal leader and lawbreaker, who has kidnapped his wife. Veeraiya, the kidnapper and his motive for the kidnap has been led on by the death of his sister, as a result of police custodial torture and brutal rape. The film explores the search by the officer, whilst exploring the changing emotions that the three protagonists experience with each other, leading to a riveting climax, situated in the jungle. This film is based on Stockholm syndrome.
This film was also made simultaneously in Hindi as Raavan, with Abhishek Bachchan reprising Vikram’s role and Vikram playing the antagonist, while Aishwarya Rai reprises her role from the original. Furthermore, the film was dubbed in Telugu as Villain. All the three versions released simultaneously on 18 June 2010 worldwide.
Raavanan opens with shots showing Veeraiya (Vikram) jumping off a cliff into the water. His gang is busy distracting the police. Police vehicles are set ablaze, and women seduce policemen into a trap whereby Veera’s henchmen attack. The police are ruthlessly murdered. Raagini (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), whilst on a boating trip, is kidnapped by Veera. Dev Prakash (Prithviraj), her husband and a senior police officer, is informed of the incident.
A brief montage of sorts showcases the story of Veeraiya. He is seen as a local hero, who runs a parallel government in rural areas near Tirunelveli, with his brothers – Singarasu (Prabhu) and Sakkarai (Munna). Though considered a Naxalite by the local police, Veeraiyya is respected by the villagers. He kidnaps Raagini hoping to avenge the death of his sister Vennila (Priyamani). He brings her to the edge of a cliff to shoot her to death. She refuses to die at his hands and jumps off the cliff into the water far below, hoping to kill herself, but fails to do so. This causes Veera to hold off the murder, being unable to kill someone who has no fear of death.
Dev and his team enter the forests with the aid of Gnanaprakasam (Karthik), a local forest guard. Despite searching deep in the forests, Dev is unable to hunt down Veera.
Meanwhile, Raagini develops sentiments for Veera after she hears the story of his sister’s death. Dev had led an encounter against Veera during Vennila’s wedding. Dev’s shot grazes Veera in the neck. Veera, fighting for his life, is unable to protect his sister, and he is led out of the fiasco by his gang. The police pressurise Vennila into revealing Veera’s hideout. When she refuses, she is subjected to physical and sexual assault. She is serially gang-raped by policemen. Veera returns home to find Vennila distraught and traumatised. The next day, she commits suicide by drowning in a nearby well.
Unhappy with the way his brother is leading a war causing distress to his gang, Sakkarai offers a truce to Dev. Dev initially seems to agree but, when Sakkarai comes out in the open, Dev shoots him to death – revealing that he considers the destruction of Veera as more important than saving his wife.
Veera and Singarasu are enraged and attack Dev’s camp; they wipe it out completely. A final confrontation between Veera and Dev takes place on a rickety bridge – where Veera triumphs over Dev – when he decides not to let Dev die. He tells Dev he is letting him live because of his wife. Dev manages to extricate himself out and finds Raagini bound and tied up – with Veera leaving her.
Dev is not entirely happy and, while returning to their hometown in Tiruchirappalli, he accuses Raagini of infidelity and informs her that it was Veera who told him so. Furious, Raagini leaves Dev to meet Veera through Singarasu. She manages to meet him and asks him why he had accused her. Veera tells her he said that he had protected Raagini safely for the fourteen days and nothing else. He quickly realises that Dev lied, hoping Raagini would lead him to his hideout.
Dev appears with a police team and confronts the duo. Raagini tries to save Veera, but he pushes her out of the line of fire, and is shot multiple times. Veera falls to his death with a smile while Ragini tries to save him with all her might but fails to do so.
Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by Mani Ratnam & Sharada Trilok
Written by Suhasini (Dialogues) & Mani Ratnam
Based on Ramayana by Valmiki
Starring Vikram, Prithviraj, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Karthik, Prabhu, Priyamani, Munna, John Vijay
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Santosh Sivan & V. Manikandan
Edited by Sreekar Prasad
Production Madras Talkies
Distributed by Reliance BIG Pictures
Release date 18 June 2010
Running time 134 minutes