Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: Mani was clever to title the film RAAVAN
'Yes, Ragini was absolutely special because the experience working behind this character has been exceedingly challenging. Evidently, as you know the nature of the film and locations we have worked at and the fact that Ragini is abducted. So obviously she is the one who's pushed, pulled, tied, thrown and put through all such trying situations. And I had to do that. The number of takes & different magnifications, the director would like to shoot in, and that too in both versions (Hindi & Tamil) made the whole procedure very taxing physically. Again, mentally extremely challenging because Mani likes to shoot an entire scene at one go. Most often we did Hindi scenes first and then immediately switched on to Tamil version with no breaks, completing it in one stretch. So now you know how exhausting it was, both physically & mentally,'
She continues, 'Ragini will always remain extremely unique as a memory, as an actor, in terms of the way I have worked in this film. And also the fact that I quite relate with the character Ragini, as she is extremely strong, a person who has a mind of her own, who loves to live on her own terms.'
Further on Aishwarya reveals that her character Ragini is very intriguing. 'On one side Ragini, who dearly loves & cares and has extreme faith on her husband Dev, played by south superstar Vikram, on the other side she discovers yet another person along the journey - Beera, who abducts her. She has the ability to look at life & people with open-minded perspective and willing to discover people around them. Despite the fact she is the abducted, she discovers the abductor. She actually discovers an insight into his persona, the truth behind why he has committed this so-called crime.'
Ash at once barges in, 'No that is not idea behind it as you perceived. What Mani wants to convey is everybody has a reason for becoming who they are or doing what they do and that is what Ragini also discovers. If Beera is perceived as the bad man/ villain/ abductor from Dev or Ragini's perspective, Beera is also considered as a protector, a provider and a saviour of the have-nots of the society, people who are wronged by the so-called right-doers of the society. For them he is the protector, so they look at the good side of him. There comes one point in the narrative, where Dev is right as he is on the right side of the law but after a while he starts becoming a man of mission. Just because the man in him wants to get even with the other man. So it also somewhere becomes a point of male egos for Dev and that is something Ragini at one point recognizes. Suddenly, who is right? Who's wrong? Who's correct? arises. It's not about questioning but realizing that everybody has shades of black & white, grey. Thereby through Ragini's perspective the audience gets to discover the different facets to people's character. It is very clever of Mani to title the film as RAAVAN.'
This is a film, where Aishwarya Rai Bachchan gets to share chemistry with two heroes. Aishwarya gets politically correct, 'The chemistry is in the screenplay. The moment creates that, the screenplay creates that, the scene itself. It's not necessarily about 2 people. Let me be honest, as an actor, while enacting the Hindi version with Abhishek as Beera or enacting the Hindi version with Vikram as Dev and enacting the Tamil version with Vikram as Beera and there Prithviraj as Dev, it just goes to show that as an actor you are being honest to the moment and its not about this individual that you have a crackling connection with, which is often made out. I don't completely believe that. Sometimes, in a film that has succeeded you'll say it's because of the chemistry and vice-versa.'
Mani always proved lucky in Aishwarya's life, be it on personal or professional front. He was the one to launch the utterly beautiful lady in film industry. Aishwarya made her debut on big screen with Mani Ratnam's superhit film down south, IRUVAR. Later on she again teamed with Mani for 2007's superhit film GURU. It was at that time Ash-Abhi, who were dating each other, tied knots. Now one is all the more eager to know what good omen RAAVAN will bring in Ash's life. But Ash reacts (in a slightly surprised gesture) humbly.
'I regard all my directors. I come to sets like a student and that's my perception, that's my approach towards work till date. But yes, Mani will always remain and has that special place of being the first director in my career ever. He calls me 'kanna' and Abhishek 'maapley' (south Indian lingo). Mani is like a family for me & Abhishek. But having said that, though the familiarity is that much more intense & that much more special with time, as an actor each time, not just me, not just Abhishek but any actor would say that working with Mani is an experience of a lifetime, it's as fantastic & fabulous as it could be. Infact, Vikram Sir has waited for so long to work with Mani. He told me that it was his ambition to work with Mani. He used to wait outside Mani's office during his struggling days and was looking for a chance to work with him. Every actor, creative person looks forward to work with director as special as Mani.'
Well, one will have to wait and see how the audience translates this piece of artwork from the man known for his eye for technical detail in the art of film making.