Mani Ratnam Top 10 - Part 2

Here goes...



This movie did more for A.R.Rahman, Manisha Koirala, singers Chitra, Hariharan and even the item number that was Sonali Bendre than for Mani Ratnam. "Andha Arabic Kadaloram" took my college hostel by storm. Strange exotic things were being said about Manisha and Sonali. The media was hyping up everything - Nasser plays a Hindu - Kittu plays a Muslim - a load of Hindu Muslim from that point on.

On hindsight, there seems to have been a compulsion to make a cross-over hit when Ratnam was working on this script. This is often touted to be the middle child in the anti-terrorism trilogy of his movies. This waBombays no Roja II. My attention distinctly wavered in the second half - you realize a moment in the movie hall when you are conscious that the movie has gone off track and your thoughts waver back to real life.  This happened to me during this movie. The lead couple had lost their twin boys - found one - lost another - they get parted - political bigwigs were getting impersonated - a few dialogues were clipped - a few scenes seemed incoherent - family reunites - the Bombay theme mesmerizes - my thoughts were wandering beyond Manisha Koirala - not a good sign.

I feel that besides technicians, Ratnam has introduced more child artistes than any one else. Not unlike the technicians, all these kids have excelled on screen.


Aayudha ezhuththu

A bridge in a bustling city. Three characters collide. Trace back their past individually and follow them till they reach that bridge. Now, move forward and complete the story.

Achieve the impossible - rope in six happening actors and yet finish shooting the movie in record time. Re-introduce the Rahman sound that has been missing for about a year now. Are you short of challenges? Do all this twice over at the same time in Hindi and Thamizh.


This 'Project Management' aspect always puts me in awe of the man. He must have one hell of a team working for him in the storyboard discussion and planning stages.

All this failed to invoke any lasting interest in the movie. You see... I had seen Amores Perros by then. It was quite obvious that the three track script was inspired. No matter what Ratnam did with his treatment - the USP had lost its freshness.

I also remember a tiff I had with a fellow desi who tried to be clever at the box office queue. My cousin, the psychedlic schizo seems to share my rage over violators of the queue decorum.


Kannaththil Muththamittaal

The inner turmoil of a unique girl child - we have seen fleeting glimpses of this delicate concept in many of Ratnam's movies. Here, this character takes center stage. Besides the movie he directs other products of his production house or his scripts for other directors seem to include the spunky troubled kid.

Kannaththil Muththamittal was like that wisp of a smile we sometimes see in kids - it arrived and left with very little hype. No 'pada poojai' or extensive news bites for this movie - like most of his movies. I always stumble upon a Ratnam movie in the making by accident - I saw a poster of 'Anandha Vikatan' with Madhavan and Simran and the kids when I went for a short trip to India. Was this a photo op or a real movie.... it is a Ratnam movie? what? Why am I the last person to know these things?

KM copy KM probably toured the art house circuit more than any other Ratnam movie. The proof of that is its immediate presence in online streamers such as Jaman and Netflix. Commercially, it came at a time when broadband was becoming main stream and 'thiruttu' VCD was a norm. One of those movies that everyone has seen more in bad prints on small screens than where it made legal sense.

Simran and Keerthana owned the movie. Nandita Das was there. Mani Ratnam continues to try and mold a serious actor out of Madhavan.


Thiruda Thiruda

For all you harsh critics of Thiruda Thiruda... you miss the point. TT is like that joke where you have to be there when it is happening. For the junta that was in high school - college when the movie was released - it was a blast. You almost always went to the theatres with your friends and every outing was a party. A caper movie which had nothing but time pass as the USP was a godsend. It is not so much what happened in the movie but what happened during the movie... 

Thiruda Thiruda was probably the first movie where Ratnam's fasicnation for trains began and culminated in Chaiyya Chaiyya. Okay, I am going to say it.... The first shot of the train carrying the millions with a pulsating sound track in the background on a big theatre screen was the best conceived shot in Thamizh movie history that had no actors on screen. A train turning a bend and puffing greasy smoke evoked a round of whistles from my mates. You had to be there...

Check out this amazing piece of synch - the audio is the train sequence from TT but the video is from Spiderman 2.

When I watched it a year back on DVD.. there were no goosebump moments just a touch of nostalgia.



Drool.... a bio pic.

There is this scene early in the movie... Anandan is a struggling actor enacting the role of a police Iruvar constable when he gets the news of his mother's death... Mohanlal blew me away with those silent tears. The subtlety of the scene is a lesson in itself and I doubt if any other director-actor combination can carry it as effectively. It would probably spoil it for me but I would like to be in the room when this shot was conceived - when creative minds are collaborating it should be a treat to just witness them in action.

However, some jingoistic shots were cushioned by the same subtlety and lost on the impact scale.

Iruvar was overshadowed at the box office by Rajeev Menon's Minsara Kanavu. I chose to watch this first - I think ended up watching both movies on the same day. Regardless, Iruvar needs to be revisited. It is being touted as a treasure trove of hidden elements.


Check out the top ten round up

Part 1


Part 3


  1. I am waiting for the rest of "Top 10". TT was quite thrilling....though i had watched it with family.

  2. BV,
    Cool 6 to 10. A lot of similarities between your list and mine. Just that TT would not have been in my list and Guru would be joint 6th position with Iruvar(very similar movies, IMO)

    Some TriVi(cky)a:
    1. Eye of the tiger Vs Rajathi Raja analogy(see my comment for your prev post)

    2. Guru - the final court scene - I got this feeling that Mani Ratnam possibly had Raghuvaran in his mind while explaining the scene to Abishek. The looks, the voice intonation, the walk - everything reminded me of Raghuvaran in "Mudhalvan".

    3. A pattern that I noticed in my school days: For 4 out of his first 5 movies, director Shankar had booked Mani Ratnam's heroines. Coincidence?

    Here is the list of such heroines-
    Madhubala (Roja - Gentleman)
    Manisha Koirala (Bombay - Indian)
    Aishwarya (Iruvar - Jeans)
    Manisha koirala (Dil Se - Mudhalvan)


  3. I expected KM to be in top 5, infact in top 1 or 2 as I felt so about the movie.

  4. Km can be among the top 3. Maddy and Keerthana showed awesome talent. The scenes in Lanka were so real, I felt being there myself. Somehow Bombay and Iruvar did not impress me. But good review by you. Your bolg is now in my daily list of net hits.

  5. My top 10 is very different from yours :) Bombay is in my Top 5. Though the ending of the movie might not be a realistic one, I liked every moment of it.

    I felt each and every character played an important role in Kannatthil Muthamittal. and how could miss Prakash Raj's performance in the movie? :)

    I have to watch Iruvar a few more times before I can fully appreciate it

  6. MR has unanimous favorites and also manages to impress a few people in a personal fashion. I guess that will help us decide our own personal top 10.

    Its been a fun nostalgic trip.