Also, If you go back to the earliest chronological point of this movie, why do the police attempt to rudely interrupt a certain marriage and attempt to arrest Veeraiyyan. What is the background for that? If I only developed opinions on this movie by just watching this movie, I would get no answers for these questions. Mani starts the movie in a jerky fashion and tells us a conveniently carved out slice of a bigger story in a very clumsy manner. Some scenes seem awefully disconnected and others unnecessary. And like Dhalapathy, Mani develops this tiring habit of creating this pseudo society which worships a non-governmental set of rowdies. The public claim (or the rowdy co-horts claim on the public's behalf) that Veeraiyyan has given them lives when they had none. And then Mani pitches a "Us Vs Them" theme that claim that city people don't know the travails of the hill people. We are just supposed to take that on face value. No core issues, no motive. Mani wants us to just assume there is some problem and would like us get to the part where he actually has something to say.
*** Extreme Spoiler Alert ***
Here is what broke my tolerance when I was willing to indulge in Mani. Raavanan gives only one side of the story. While what Mani says explicitly in this movie presents a balanced view of Dev, Ragini and Veeraiyyan, what he leaves unsaid (with regards to Ragini's actions in the end) unduly damages Ragini and favors Veeraiyyan. The gaps left unfilled in this movie seem to conveniently suppress Veeraiyyan's mistakes. If mani had a flashback that filled the context on Priyamani's marriage interruption and this context had Veeraiyyan raping Hemanth's daughter and killing 20 policemen in the process of looting a bank, things would have been very interesting. In the process, I am reminded of Manohar's bohemian attempts to bring retribution to epicVillains with movies like Lankeswaran and Narakasuran. Even Manohar realized the value of a strong story to drive a movie and didn't meddle with the actual epics. But simply developed another backstory that made you see the epic in a dfferent light. His movies gave both sides of the story. What Manirathnam does is selectively pick from the epic and seems to hint "while I believe Valmiki's characters and some of the main events in his narration to be true, I also think he is lying about the things I don't agree with"
Now to the direct comparison. Setting aside the futility of judging a prehistoric story with 21st century moral compass - The only similarity Manirathnam shares with Valmiki is that the beauty of the characters is based on the eye of the beholder. The 'kuppai' in your mind will show up as the 'kuppai' in the character. I did not think Ragini returned back to Veeraiyyan because she actually fell in love with him. While Ragini stopping a train and walking out looked silly, I thought : Dev found out that Veeraiyyan had fallen for Ragini -> decided to use her as a bait -> she just came back to verify Dev's claims. This is the only balanced view. But Mani's visuals try to make this as ambiguous as possible. Lets the kuppai in the audience mind to work: Example of where the visuals were going: ragini falls in love with Veeraiyyan - Dev's instincts were right -> answer to "nadakka koodathathu (which need not be physical) nadanthutha" is yes. So in any combination of examples Ragini cannot come out in good light. And this is a failure to deliver his stated intentions of keeping everything even keel. Hopefully, the process has taught Manirathnam how difficult it is to write a story that provides multiple perspectives and at the same time bring out the nuance that distinguishes between good and evil. Forget Valmiki, I rate this less than Manohar's story.
Manirathnam should not have read up on character of the real Raavanan so much. It seems to have enamoured him into having an unexecutable idea. Vikram's antics to project 10 different minds comes out as 'half-assed' and rather looks like over-acting. Nobody except Dev keeps it real. Vikram's mannerisms were irritating. Mani seems to have found out somewhere along the line that he can't deliver 10 personalities via Vikram's performance alone. So does a silly thing of having 10 people describe Veeraiyyan in 10 different ways. We are just supposed to 'get it'. And lastly, the forest was there for the sake of it. I thought it was overhyped and apart from providing good visuals didn't seem to be a character in the movie. Luckily Mani doesn't try picturising the already bad songs fully. What was picturised gave ample evidence that none more was needed. This was a hindi movie, not adapted but forcefitted into Tamil milieu.