Am not a great movie buff but out of the limited number of movies that I have seen I reeeaaalllyy love all Mani Rathnam ones. I have seen almost all his creations starting from the Murali-Revathy starrer Pagal Nilavu to Abhishek-Aish Guru, and not jus once but a lot many times. And mind you not only the ones which were hits- I even liked the ones which bombed at the box office, like Dil Se and Thiruda Thiruda. I admire his understated, crisp, elegant and subtle way of film making. It came as a striking contrast in an era of melodrama, when everything was loud- people, their voices, their clothes, their dialogues etc- much more suited to the stage than to cinema. In fact, there has been many jokes about his style of filming saying that one can hardly hear or see anything in Mani Rathnam’s movies!
I believe that his movies deal with everyday subjects, be it Patriotism as in Roja, Friendship & Loyalty in Thalapathy, Terrorism as Dil Se, Religious Fanatiscm as in Bombay, the finer nuances of a husband-wife relationship as in Mouna Raagam, Love & Responsibilities as in Alaipayuthay or the intricate Mother-Child bond as in Kannathil Mutthamittal or Social Awareness as in Aayutha Ezhuthu or even the simple love between siblings in Anjali with such sensitivity,without being patronizing or preachy.
They might not lead to a practical end- afterall I doubt if any one would go around like Arvind Swamy in Bombay’s climax or for that matter in Roja’s end- but thts ok as far as I am concerned, coz I hate tragic endings :-( Whtever horrors happen in the movie I always want a happy ending. Don’t wanna go home with a long face and a drooping heart after al!
Mani Rathnam’s movies might not appeal to the realist but they certainly appeal to my heart. Not surprising coz they deal with human emotions more than anything else. His characters stand etched in memory. They make me smile, cry, triumph, love and ponder.
Who can forget the playful and care-free Manohar of Mounaragam? When he is shot dead you jus cant help wishing it wasn’t that way. One can empthasize with Mohan when his wife shuns him coz of her failed past. But finally when the married couple unites in true filmy fashion, the hopeless romantic in me rejoices!
Or the powerful and commanding Velu Naicker? The touching scene when he makes a school going prostitute as his life partner. You feel a father’s pain and a daughter’s angst when his daughter herself confronts him and says that she is afraid to be with him. The question that Velu Naicker’s grandson asks in court ‘Neenga nallavara kettavara?’ is such a poignant moment- it reminds me that not all questions in life have answers and that Life is not jus black & white but therein lies various shades of grey.
Or the innocent and adorable Anjali? You can feel the longing of Revathy when her mentally challenged daughter fails to acknowledge her mother while still accepting total strangers. When Anjali’s sister desperately tries to shake her awake, you too mentally will her to get up.
Your heart aches for the abanded child and the helpless mother in Thalapathy. And you feel almost as proud as Mamooty to have a friend like Rajni!
And when the rampage and looting takes place in Bombay and the little boy throws up simple questions on God and Religion, which have complex answers to them, it makes you wonder why indeed does all this happen? Why are human beings so narrow minded and selfish? Is all this carnage really necessary? I can jus go on and on!
Another strong point of Mani Rathnam’s movies is music. Be it the Maestro Illayaraja or the Genius Rahman, almost all the songs in his movies are beautiful and evergreen. And definitely cinematography too. It lends an aesthetic appeal to his movies.After having watched his latest Guru more than a year back, I am now alongwith thousands of others, eagerly waiting for his next movie and the complexities, relationships and emotions involved with it, from the director who has touched my soul with his magic.