Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil) – Fun On The Run

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

Being rated as one of the best film makers, can be a boon or a bane to lot of people who have either withered away with time or carried the burden of expectation firmly on their shoulders. Fortunately Mani Ratnam falls in the latter category but unfortunately too, he has made movies which though being good had to be weighed in the glory of past.

Thiruda Thiruda released in 1993 is a clear example of being an underrated flick. When internationally renowned and acclaimed directors dabble with different genres and are appreciated for their efforts, we still never fail to seize an opportunity to pull a person down or to dismiss an attempt. India has rarely produced any notable action adventure heist capers, which are entertaining and provides your full value for money in its grandeur and execution. Barring a Shaan or some obscure films , this genre is fairly untapped and not many directors have experimented unlike their Hollywood counterparts

CBI Inspector Laxminarayan(S P Balasubramanium in a role of his lifetime) is assigned the task to track down the heist of fresh printed bank notes amounting to the sum of an absurd 1000 Crores from the Nasik government security press, masterminded by T T Vikram(Salim Ghouse) from London. Tracing the clue to Chandralekha(Anu Agarwal) who escapes with the key card of the container that holds the money, she comes across Kadir(Anand) and Azhagu(Prashant). Both are country side thieves on the run along with Rasathi(Heera Rajgopal) who helps them in getting out of a tricky situation while doing their theft and even she is trying to escape from the clutches of her uncle and his henchmen.

Meanwhile Vikram lands in India in search of Chandralekha as she even disappears with the stolen money of Kadir and Azhagu too. They get hold of her bag where the card key is kept but had secluded Rasathi on their way and later realise the folly of leaving her behind, for she is being forced in a marriage with her own uncle.

The rest of the movie is how all these characters play a cat and mouse game in the quest to obtain that container in an entertaining manner filled with breath taking visuals, path breaking music and background score put to thrillingly orchestrated action pieces.

Ram Gopal Varma seems to have paid back his obligation to Mani Sir who helped him in the script of Gaayam by writing the story here. Partly inspired from his own heist caper Kshana Kshanam, which he later re twisted with disastrous results in Daud(It has a decent following now with people enjoying it on TV).

But the person for whom Thiruda Thiruda will still be remembered and undisputedly so has to be only and only A R Rahman. The second collaboration with Mani Ratnam after making his debut with Roja, he delivers a path breaking soundtrack where words fall short to praise. No adjectives can suffice the greatness of the sound produced here and it still remains the best among hardcore fans who have been following his music from early days.

Be it the grand orchestrated Veerapandi Kottaiyele, the hauntingly beautiful capela Rasaathi, the energetic Kannum Kannum, the enchanting Chandrelekha, the refreshing and ethereal Putham Pudhu Bhoomi Vendum or the terrific fusion Thee Thee, Rahman goes wild and how. It was a never before heard sound in 1993, which broke all creative barriers and made every music album pale around and can compete with any soundtrack many notches higher even now.

The action sequences still remain a highlight replete with chases and thrills and it is to the achievement of Mani Ratnam that he has ensembled it with a lot of energy and adrenaline. The climax where the characters clash together atop a moving train is one of the best I have seen and it’s a difficult task accomplished by the technicians and crew. Though the technique of flashing lights in an action scene was earlier used in Agni Natchathiram during the hospital climax, but it stands apart more here. Watch the video and you wont be disappointed.

P C Sriram is the second hero of the film and it must have been a difficult job to shoot this adventure ride as there are a lot of chaos scenes involving trains, jeep, bikes, horses etc in a wide canvas. It is to the credit of him, that a lot of sequence matches up to the technical effeciency of recently released movies too.

The cast comprises mostly of unknown faces and character artistes like Prashant, Heera Rajgopal, Anand, Salilm Ghouse, Anu Agarwal and everyone does a competent job. Maybe it was a conscious decision by Mani Sir to not opt for any known stars and keep the theme and its entertainment quotient as the highlight without utilising the image of any recognised faces.

Tad unnecesarily lengthy for some parts and not so memorable characters are the only weak aspects and if one is willing to overlook this part, Thiruda Thiruda is Mani Ratnam’s way of breaking away from his more serious relationship and socio-political dramas. Having re-visted it again a few days back, it may not be a classic by any standards if judged to his previous body of work (except Pagal Nilavu & Idhaya Kovil), but is a fun ride nevertheless and makes for solid entertainment. Enjoy.

Read more reviews on MANI RATNAM BLOGATHON:

1. Pallavi Anupallavi (Kannada) 2. Unaroo (Malayalam) 3. Pagal Nilavu (Tamil) 4. Idaya Kovil (Tamil) 5. Mouna Ragam (Tamil) 6. Nayagan Tamil) 7. Agni Natchathiram (Tamil) 8. Geethanjali (Telugu) 9. Anjali (Tamil) 10. Thalapathi (Tamil) Take 2 Thalapathi (Tamil) 11. Roja (Tamil) 12. Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil) 13. Bombay (Tamil) 14. Iruvar (Tamil) Take 2 Iruvar (Tamil) 15. Dil Se…(Hindi) Take 2 Dil Se…(Hindi) 16. Alaipayuthey (Tamil) 17. Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) Take 2 Kannathil Muthamittal(Tamil) 18. Yuva (Hindi) 19. Aayutha Ezhuthu (Tamil) 20. Guru (Hindi) 21. Raavanan (Tamil) 22. Raavan (Hindi)


  1. A nice re-visit to a film that somehow is the odd one out in Mani Ratnam’s filmography. I remember watching this film on a humongous screen at the Devi Cinemas in Chennai. It was one of the better looking action films at the time, and I remember enjoying it. Unfortunately I don’t find it to be a film that ages too well. I watched it on DVD again a couple of years ago and remember thinking to myself, “What was Mani sir doing?!”

    Interestingly enough, Salim Ghouse and Anu Agarwal, both weren’t seen after this film. It was dubbed in Hindi as Chor Chor and I’m not sure it did all that well.

    A.R. Rahman’s “Veerapandi Kottayile” song remains a landmark. Exquisite orchestration. Some years back, he performed it live at the Hollywood Bowl using a Los Angeles based choir and a gargantuan orchestra. It was a re-invented version that went on for almost 10 minutes.


    1. Vijay the hindi dubbed version “Chor Chor” never made it to the movie halls and neither it seems debuted on the TV circuit… But it has its VCD available and it seems Jhamu Sughand who was the presenter of the Hindi version after his success with the same team in BOMBAY backed out for some reason.

      I seriously want to watch this film on the big screen with the latest sound at some point of time in life. Still worthy to kick ass for all shit made by Hindi Cinema in the name of action and entertainment currently.


    2. Though i am clueless about Anu Agarwal, last heard she was running a fitness club in Pune or some part of India. But Salim Ghouse, yes you can check him out as a hilarious pyschotic in Rakesh Roshan’s KOYLA and even Vijay’s Vettaikaran 😛


      1. Vijay-Salim Ghouse is also part of Shyam Benegal’s Well Done Abba.BTW one of his best performances came in the Malayalam film- Thazhvaram & the film by itself is brilliant. Watch it if you haven’t-I’m sure you’ll like it.


  2. the movie was fun to watch … and i sometimes think that maniratnam may have made it to experiment in this genre of robbery/heist. the movie had a love triangle but the emotional quotient was missing.
    only the songs of the movie were dubbed in hindi and released as ‘chor chor’ since rahman’s music had become extremely popular in north. but the movie itself never released in theatres AFAIK.
    chandralekha song also had awesome orchestration.


    1. Crazyrals this should not have been expected with an emotional quotient to back, because it never intended to delve into relations… We don’t expect emotions in an Indiana Jones too, its a fun ride and so Thiruda Thiruda scores big in that level and the love story was just playful

      Clearly a case of people expecting too much but glad to know you had fun…


      1. i was expecting emotional quotient before the movie started because it was a maniratnam movie. but after 30 mins when it turned out to be ‘indiana jones’ type, i stopped expecting and started suspecting 🙂


  3. Good to read your take Ajay on a really interesting experiment by Mani Sir. I remember reading an interview of his during the making of the film where he sounded very excited with the basic concept itself. He said something like ” imagine high speed car chases in rural heartland & a lot of thrills associated with a big heist etc”. So it was a conscious decision to base the film in a set-up like this. Also it was a fairly bold idea to work with a mix of known character artistes and not so known main leads. Prashanth was just slowly becoming popular then& as for Anand this has to be the biggest film in his career. I was having a major crush on Heera those days when I was in school ( it started right from her 1st film Idhayam- will write a post on the film some time ) so all the more reason for me to look forward to the film. Still remember going for the film with my school friends the day my half yearly exams got over. The songs are all fantastic of course- “Chandralekha” was a major rage especially in all the fashion shows those days. I remember performing to ” Veerapandi Kottayile” along with another friend ( basically to impress a girl ) during some school event. Rasathi by Shahul Hameed is mindblowing even when I hear it now.Would certainly love to watch the film again sometime.I saw the movie at the huge Ragam Theatre, Coimbatore ( now part of KG Big Cinemas ) and still remember freaking out over the film then. Chor Chor never released but yes the VCD was released ( Shemaroo ) while Donga Donga ( Telugu ) did release. Still remember the Hindi song ” Hum Bhi Tum Bhi Chor Hain Saathi ” ( Kannum Kannum Kollai Adithal ) which was frequently aired on Radio!!!


    1. If you loved Heera here, i am sure what you would have done after watching Gentleman in the close confines of your room alone 😛

      Your performance in all those shows (remember you mentioning it for a Rangeela song too) is a youtube moment again… You need to dig those stuff and upload here..

      Thiruda Thiruda is the best in it’s genre.


      1. Are Ajay Gentleman doesn’t feature Heera at all. Yeah digging out all those stuff would b great. In fact I think I can even write a post on all those performances since there were some really interesting songs across languages, both in school & college 🙂 Just read some recent stuff written by Heera & saw some of her recent pics and I must admit that I’m still fond of her 🙂


  4. This film is Maniratnam’s tribute to Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. The chase sequences too, are his tributes to Spielberg’s Indiana Jones.

    I dont know why it flopped. It was such a brilliantly made film. And given the brilliant chemistry between the two protagonists (Prashanth and Anand), i was happy that Mani did not add emotional depth to that triangular love story. It would have completely diverted the main theme and the context. And ending the film in that way, without making heera go for any guy… is masterstroke. It is very mature and i am glad he did not indianize it by one romantic culmination and one sacrifice.

    I recently watched and I didn’t find many flaws actually. It still is a wonderfully made film. Length is a flaw, but thats ok… when PCSreeram is showing us exotic locales in such a nicely made road film – no complaints.

    I really pity Maniratnam many times. He did try something different, by keeping his signatures intact and still people did not like it. I think very often, in India atleast, it is the audience which hinders the growth of any director/actor. They slot him and want him to better his work in the same dimension and reject if he explores anything different.


    1. Your reply sums up whatever i feel about Mani especially the final paragraph. It’s a tribute to the films you mentioned and in the true spirit. Do drop in here often and thanks for your comment Aakarsh.


  5. One major reason the movie failed was because of the huge expectations raised by Roja, which was Maniratnam’s previous film and a rage throughout the country. I remember sitting in the theater and waiting for the Roja magic to happen, which to my utter disappointment, never happened.


    1. Reikes its unfortunate that you were disappointed but the movie never gave a feel its in the backdrop of socio political issues to keep such expectations. Maybe those day promos were not a big thing but I am sure the buzz would definitely have stated it being a fun film, which Sethu has commented in as per the interview he read of Mani Sir. Do give it a look again and thanks for the comment.


  6. Not my fav, may be because i saw better Mani films. May be i am a big Indiana jones fan. On second thought how many better heist capers are made in Indian Cinema? Whatever worst of Mani is still better than Many.


  7. The songs look good even today, but action looks so outdated.Mani may be good at drama,but when it comes to comedy he falls flat, some of the scenes this films are so boring.


    1. Mani Ratnam is great at subtle humor, where it’s realistic. Scenes that come to mind immediately are those between Madhavan & his sister in Kannathil Muthamittal, portions of Alaipayuthey, every film has some subtle moments of humor. But when it’s forced its quite terrible. The comedy track from Mouna Ragam immediately comes to mind. Oh boy was that bad.


      1. Bang on, that is why Thiruda Thiruda fails to a large extent. Good thing is Mani Learnt from his failures and stayed away from comedies.


      2. His comedy track in Pagal Nilavu, Agni Natchathiram and Geethanjali are also a pain…But it seems that he never wanted those scenes and more of a trend during the 80’s and quite possibly at the producer’s behest.


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