Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, his real-life wife, reinterpret the Ramayana
in Mani Ratnam's new thriller. Instead of having the demon Raavan abduct Sita, the virtuous wife of Ram, the film has Beera, a village outlaw, kidnapping Ragini, an inspector's wife, for revenge after Beera's sister is brutalized by the police. Ratnam daringly approaches scripture without sanctimony: Good is not quite so good and evil not so evil—and Sita don't take no guff. Abhishek uses his imposing body for a glowering, chattering, seething villainy suitable to silent film. He seems to be having a blast, and Aishwarya meets him halfway. Actor Vikram, as the inspector, played Beera in the Tamil version that was filmed simultaneously; his hero is perhaps, too much the villain here. Lushly photographed in remote jungle locations, the score by Oscar winner A. R. Rahman includes a flamboyant dance number for the "tribals" in grand Bollywood tradition. No crossover dreams here.