Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Mani’s Raavan jinxed?

One can’t help feeling sorry for Mani Ratnam and his Raavan team. Murphy’s Laws seem to have a vice-like grip on the film ‘If anything can go wrong, it will.’ Almost everything that can go wrong with a film’s shooting has happened during the making of the film. After the latest incident, an outdoor schedule of Raavan has been cancelled - a blow to the already affected plans.

The cancellation of the schedule was enforced upon the team after the caravans that were by being used by Vikram and Aishwarya Rai were seized by officials in Ooty on the charge of not having the required documents and of tampering with the registration numbers to evade tax. The loss of the caravans meant that the lead cast had no basic facilities at the outdoor shooting spot and the director had no option but to call of shooting until further arrangements are made.

The caravan episode and the resulting delay is not the first issue that Raavan has faced. Those who have been regularly following the Raavan updates will know that the movie has run into many many stumbling blocks during the course of its making. Some time last year, during the early phases of shooting in Ooty, the crew had faced troubles from unforeseen quarters. The Raavan team was traveling from Chennai to Ooty in vehicles hired from the city. But the vehicle operators in Ooty staged a protest demanding that only their vehicles should be hired for any purpose in the hill station. Following this unpleasant start to the new schedule, Mani Ratnam decided to call things off. Not the best of starts, one should say.

If your memory is sharp, you might be able to recollect reports of the film’s crew facing opposition from the forest officials of Kerala where the shooting was progressing. The dispute was regarding the breach of conditions under which the permission to shoot in the jungles had been given. The shooting was stalled for a few days after which Mani Ratnam decided to shift his base to the Orchcha forests in Madhya Pradesh. Thankfully, there were no issues during this schedule, but the crew was reportedly tested severely by the dense forests and Mani Ratnam added to his team people who were experts at handling snakes and wild insects.

After travails on many fronts, the shooting of Raavan looked like getting on track finally when a crippling blow was struck in the form a hear attack to Mani Ratnam. Though, luckily, the master director was never in a serious condition, his doctors advised him to stay away from the pressures of shooting for a while. He had no choice but to call off things until he had fully recovered. Thankfully, he did not take a long time recovering, he is a thorough professional. Shooting was rescheduled, but fortune does not seem to be on the side of Raavan. The latest ‘caravan’ episode has again left the schedules of Raavan hanging in mid air and its future a bit uncertain.

In the midst of all the big issues, there were relatively minor ones like the disagreement between Mani Ratnam and Aishwarya Rai on her look in the movie. The director wanted his heroine to wear a ‘no make up’ look in certain scenes. But, for all her beauty and poise, Aishwarya Rai seemed a bit insecure to follow the director’s instructions. She defied the orders and went in for some basic make up which was noticed by the director who promptly sent her back to the dressing table to get rid of whatever little make up she had donned.

Really, the first word that comes into one’s mind after recalling all the Raavan roadblocks is ‘jinx’. Yes, is Raavan jinxed? One hopes not, because it is India’s premiere director’s interpretation of the Ramayana and we want to see it on screen as soon as possible. But something is wrong somewhere, that is why the movie is running into problems all the time. The more superstitious might be inclined to think that the name ‘Raavan’ belonging to the demonic Asura is not very auspicious for a multicrore production and that the heavens are against it. Well, let’s wish Mani Ratnam and the Raavan team better luck.


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