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      2012 Drama Adventure List
      Reviews 74% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings Kombodhi is the leader of a tribe, who steals from the rich to survive. He befriends Varupuli, who unknown to Kombodhi is a man who escaped from being sacrificed and is being hunted by his village. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member I was told to watch Aravaan by a friend who is Telegu (from Hyderabad) - he called the film Ekaveera, which means 'One Hero'. He said that the thing he likes best about his country's film output is that, when the protagonist stands on a railway track and puts his hand up towards an oncoming train, the train stops! In Aravaan, the train doesn't quite stop, but it is a tall tale. While I might watch a film like 'Un prophète' (2009),looking to empathise with characters played with stark realism by method actors, my friend just wants to come out of a film feeling like he can take the world on. Actors are basically just there to represent roles in a greek tragedy - the whole performance is like a dance, striking poses and demonstrating performance skills - it is almost like a form of sign language. Any meaning relatable to real life has to come from the viewer's own experiences and not the character's literal believability. I shouldn't really be surprised by this because a similar principle governs religious worship in Hinduism. I suppose it's a bit like the first few times you see horror films when you're a kid - something wouldn't be right if the 'bad' characters were anything other than surreal and metaphorical, but since we don't see ourselves as 'bad', we don't really care if they have real human intentions and methodology. If Bollywood or Kollywood heroes were psychological portraits then the bold emotional punch of the film would be completely lost amongst complex intentions and doubts. A fairer comparison would be between western super-hero films such as Superman, Batman or the Avengers and a typical Bollywood epic - in many ways they compare quite favourably (say from a moral or ethical viewpoint) if you look at it that way. It still leaves the question why one style dominates so much, but perhaps this isn't the place for that. The important element then, in reviewing a heroic Indian epic, is 'What is the director or writer actually trying to say?'(if anything) amidst the entertaining textures utilised. Aravaan does indeed give us many insights into the culture and history of the Southern Kingdoms of India, while remaining very stylised and bold. The main reason why I decided to watch Aravaan was because of the music. I was impressed by the way that it seemed to have that instantly recognisable and beautiful quality which genuine classical Indian folk music has, while also containing elements of modern production techniques, i.e. it was old-fashioned with properly recorded classical instruments, but catchy and enjoyable like pop-music or electronic dance-music. As it turns out the actual film added a few pieces of background music and soundscapes which were not always as convincing as the proper songs, however the overall impression was still very good. Obviously the dubbing is quite strange to a western ear though. I think Aravaan is amongst a small group of very populist films which I can buy into without feeling like I'm being manipulated or going along with the crowd. The film is equal parts critical and complementary regarding the culture it describes. It seems to borrow elements from the old silk-trail myths which we find in '1001 Arabian Nights', as well as Tamil myths about gangs of thiefs and bandits. I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to diverge from many other plotlines I've come across in recent Bollywood and Kollywood output, in that it seems to have quite a strong working-class political underpinning. It's not exactly marxist, but the caste system enforced by the Maharaja (local regional King or Chief) is exposed as a hollow shell calously attempting to mimick a more logical and fair system inherant to popular folk religion. The representation of Tamil artistic and religious traditions, as well as the music which accompanies these, are strong-points in the film, reproducing the grandeaur of the musical 'Jodhaa Akbar' from much more humble, earthy ingredients. Aravaan also makes a very good attempt to demonstrate the Dharma principle that all is one in moral and religious affairs - i.e. Justice, Balance and Truth are not inherent to any one culture or religion. So we have various Christian and Islamic symbols, metaphors, patterns and signs which make surprising appearances at certain stages, amongst the religious elements that seem more indigenous to the Tamil villages and towns, such as the recurring snake or Naga appearances which give a hint as to the leading role of the statuesque Aadhi, who goes from playing a rapist in 'Mirugam' (2007) to something very different here and yet not a typical archetypal hero either (perhaps another suggestion that the director is playing around with the audience's perceptions and assumptions). Colour is very important in the film, in a similar way to the recent Native American film 'Mesnak' which explores similar themes. Many may be aware that the religious title 'Krishna' refers to the blueness of the sea or night sky, which is thought to refer to Lord Krishna's depth of character and knowledge, which was associated with the all pervading essence or spirit called 'Vishnu', which is of great importance to Hindus. Various key night scenes which relate to subjective experience and elements of danger or risk are awash with beautiful blues, turning the scenic locations into gothic night dreams and adventures. The day time scenes are intense with reds and yellows amidst arid, sun drenched landscapes of plains and high altars. The occasional flash of the bright green foliage of the river valleys and forests comes as a relief from the blood tensions boiling over into the villages. In one early scene, a few green leaves become symbols of peace and harmony between two brothers. The minimalist costumes, make-up and sets allow us to marvel at the overall composition of the image rather than just the star performers, although there certainly are a few very attractive looking people in the film, playing most of the main roles. The scenes of violence, although not realistic, seem to have the tone of realism - there is certainly no glorification of violence. Many of the villainous characters do seem to have something of a bad LSD trip about them, which makes a nice change from comical Bollywood villains. At times I was thinking of Jodorowsky's 'El Topo' and 'Holy Mountain' or Amit Kumar's short-film 'The Bypass'. Sergio Leone may also be an influence, which may be a positive or negative depending on whether you think his films were sardonic polemics that polluted the Western tradition, or an imaginative expansion of the themes and social agenda hidden within most Westerns. Either way, there is a strong element of regional authenticity to Aravaan which Leone's westerns lacked, sometimes doing for Tamil Nadu what Asif Kapadia's 'The Warrior' did for Kashmir. One of the elements which I find irritating about musicals in general is the transition from drama, which aproximates every-day life, to over-the-top emotions and songs. The reason for this is that I believe that most musicals fundamentally misunderstand the role that music plays in people's life and the way that songs give voice to feelings which words struggle to digest. Musicals often remind me of watching commercial TV news programs with lots of advert breaks - some adverts are actually quite funny and entertaining, but there is something fundamentally screwed up about constantly interupting your train of thought and concentration to be confronted by trivia. Romantic comedies often operate in the same way. I don't believe that a film's soundtrack has to fade into the background but I do think that it should be well integrated with the story and should help the story deliver a message of some sort. One of the best examples of musical storytelling is in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey using Johann Strauss and Aram Khatchaturian. It might seem a strange comparison but Aravaan divides up the musical and dialogue segments in a similar way, creating a clear distinction between social reality and fantastical dream sequences. Similarly, the digital visual effects don't seem too concerned with anatomical or photographic realism, but rather aim to be like elements from a nightmare e.g. the charging herd of bulls, or a romantic fantasy, occasionally recalling the way that Mira Nair's 'Kama Sutra' captured the integration of romantic landscapes and erotic human forms. Aravaan is also fairly layered and complex, not only in terms of containing many hidden references to religious ideas and symbols, but in terms of plot structure and containing dreams within dreams, often brought about by feelings of guilt or longing, strangley similar at times to Chris Nolan's 'Inception' in the overall approach. This complexity seems to free up a wider palette of cinematographic techniques, of which the film contains more that I have ever seen in one film. Despite this, with some occasional pausing to catch up with the supersonic subtitles, I can't say I was ever frustrated by the plot as some Indian reviewers were. I think the complexity in the plot is one of the main elements which made me watch to the end and reflects the competing forces which govern the society portrayed. So, in summary, this is a historical epic which does not aim to be a realistic reconstruction of the past - it is a dream of the past or an inspiring tale, showcasing a beautiful part of the world and a culture with real roots. It certainly contains very believable elements and truthful strands which reflect the hard experiences and resilient humour of poor farmers and thieves, thieves who dream of being something more. On the other hand, it asks you to take a journey into your imagination and enjoy a ripping yarn. It is a very direct and honest film which packs a real punch, like a more colourful Tamil Silambam version of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. Through taking this appraoch, it tries to bring the wisdom of the past into the present and shows us that many of the problems we face today are just another version of problems faced by our ancestors. The characters do lack some emotional depth and the portrayal of the men is stronger than that of the women, although two of the leading female performances are excellent and enjoyable. For the most part, the lack of connection with the character's internal life does not matter, as if we are again children being read a parable from an old book of tales. The cinematographic and musical style of Kollywood is perfectly utilised here and well suited to the content of the film, unlike many other more modern stories produced by the same industry. I think Aravaan demonstrates that this vibrant, intense style of musical film does have a place in the modern world provided that the story and subject are chosen carefully. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/29/23 Full Review Audience Member Epic Tamil movie - Original, well written and directed. Remarkable effort by Vasantha Balan in bringing Su. Venatesan's novel to life. I hope other senior directors follow the footsteps and make more watchable movies like these. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member superb camera work and brilliant detailing, the film fails with a complex screenplay and too many flashbacks. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/29/23 Full Review Audience Member Have seen Aravaan, a great periodic movie. Excellent screenplay. very good camera work. Remembered the tamil tradition and how strong our ancestors were Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Audience Member Aravaan was really superb it has a very strong script(derived from the famous novel kavalkottam) with aspects like good cinematography,editing and beautifully picturised songs its a splendid show,kudos to actor adhi,pasupathi nd all the other actors in de movie for their brilliant acting .this movie is a well crafted masterpiece showing the life of 18th century tamils a stunning period film doing justice to its genre also not failing to make an impact with a strong message in the end. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member Aravaan is a great history periodic film from director Vasantha Balan with a stunning fact.... must watch.... everyone at their best performance....deserves national award.... Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/27/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Kombodhi is the leader of a tribe, who steals from the rich to survive. He befriends Varupuli, who unknown to Kombodhi is a man who escaped from being sacrificed and is being hunted by his village.
      Drama, Adventure
      Original Language
      Release Date (Streaming)
      May 22, 2017