Last night I watched “Iruvar”. This probably was my third time watching the movie in whole. But my first time in at least 7 or 8 years.
The following is a collection of thoughts limping out of that experience and it may very well include some serendipitous discoveries that could only be attributed to my lack of observation the first two times I saw the movie.
- An era of the birth of modern Thamizh literacy.
- An age of growing Rationalism.
- A period when Cinema had started capturing the imagination of the country & in particular the state where stage play was the number one medium of public entertainment, but considered too elitist.
- And then there were those pioneers who helped steer each one of the above ships in the state during that time. Two of them in particular start building what later would turn out to be a very complicated public & personal relationship. Those two, even after almost 5 decades since they stamped their feet in front of the public eyes in the state, have the power and influence over many things that the state witnesses today culturally and politically.
Now imagine the guts of a filmmaker who sets out to capture the essence of these two personalities through a 150 minute motion picture!
The characteristic is being referred to as ‘guts’ simply because of the nature of the duo‘s influence and the depth of their influence in the context of the state’s cultural and political spectrum. For the simple fact that any reference to them in any form of media could bring out a sense of emotion and passion that only a native of the state can relate to. So even to set out to do a movie on the Duo is a gutsy move.
Now for the brilliance of Mani Ratnam.
Here is the last 4 odd minutes of the movie. I had goosebumps watching this scene. A.R. Rahman’s score with a haunting voice, Santosh Sivan’s camera, Vairamuthu’s Karunanidhiesque words and the beautifully (I know it is ironic to use the word beautiful while talking about a funeral) shot funeral procession just bring back memories of 1987…Time stays still for 4 minutes. Brilliance.
To me, this is another brilliant scene which brought out the true spirit of the exact point of time where the duo decided to exhibit their differences in public in such a short time on screen.
Take a look at this intro. All of 16 seconds. A dreamy eyed boy traveling to Chennai along with his mother. A single mother traveling to Chennai to fulfill her son’s dreams and you can see that she is anxiously fearful of what the future has to offer while the boy is full of optimism. No dialogues. No music. Yet, these 16 seconds capture so much.
Now finally take a look at this bit. Mohan Lal and Prakash Raj at their best. Love the pompous rhythmic BGM that A.R. Rahman kicks in at 0:31. Changes the tone of the scene completely. Pay attention to the dialogues. In less than a minute, Mani Ratnam with the help of Suhasini, the dialogue writer manages to summarize the basic differences in the duo‘s political ideologies. Of course this was when both of them hadn’t even smelled power and were raw. Young, raw and filled with a sense of youthful arrogance to do something good for the state.
I can possibly go on and on analyzing a few more scenes for I felt the movie was much more than what was presented on screen in 150 minutes.
In spite of all this glory I am talking about, I think the movie failed to make a connection with the audience. Interestingly I don’t think it was because Mani’s subject caused some kind of political antagonism on both sides thus resulting in audience staying away from theaters. Instead, it was because of the fact that the movie tried to live on subtlety and subtlety alone.
Subtlety all the way. Unfortunately for Mani and the movie, that didn’t click with the audience.
Having said that, I also think if Mani had made this movie any more dramatic or any louder, it would have stirred enormous pages of emotional outbursts and would have failed to trigger the passion of movie lovers like me.
This was a movie which I am glad was made the way it was made, but wish was made in 2 parts. I think there is so much more to tell about the duo & their lives, which a mere 150 minutes didn’t do enough justice to.
Be it the Mani Ratnam / A.R. Rahman duo or the Mohan Lal / Prakash Raj duo or the Santosh Sivan / Vairamuthu duo, it is clear that the real life Duo, whose lives inspired this movie will continue to enliven millions of hearts in Thamizh Nadu for many more years to come.