One Auteur. One Actor. One Scene: Kamal Haasan’s Chef-D’Oeuvre Moment as the ‘Uttama-Villain’

Manoranjan, the hot, money-spinning star of Tamil cinema with a humongous fan-base, is at the peak of his self-centered professional career, his latest commercial outing opening to blockbuster collections and thunderous applause among fanatics, when he gets hit with a diagnosis of Stage 4 Glioblastoma multiforme, a type of malignant and notoriously fatal brain tumor with an average life expectancy of 9 to 12 months.

Continue reading “One Auteur. One Actor. One Scene: Kamal Haasan’s Chef-D’Oeuvre Moment as the ‘Uttama-Villain’”

Uttama Villain (2015) Movie Review : Mortal Fear

Uttama Villain Movie PosterYour mind is tuned to a beginning, middle and end. You are used to certain number of peaks (drama) in the screenplay. You think a good story must have twists and turns. You are unsure about how to react to just narrating a story about a life as life is. And you hate a film because of your prejudice. And the film slowly grows on you. Over time, you start saying that the movie was a classic. This has happened earlier with Iruvar, Hey Ram, Anbe Sivam. It is likely to happen with Uttama Villain. Uttama Villain (English: Virtuous Villain) is a 2015 Tamil comedy-drama film directed by Ramesh Aravind and written by Kamal Haasan. presented by N. Lingusamy in association with Kamal Haasan and produced by S. Chandrahasan for Raaj Kamal Films International and N. Subash Chandrabose for Thirrupathi Brothers.
Continue reading “Uttama Villain (2015) Movie Review : Mortal Fear”

Uttama Villain Music Review: Uttama Veri, Unnadha Theri!

Uttama Villain(UV)’ as a film has been wrapped in a bit of intrigue for sometime now. The initial assumption was that it would be a typical Kamal A-class comedy quickie. But as more and more promotional material is being revealed, it is looking like a much more involving and intriguing enterprise. Also Ulaganayagan’s decision to sign Ghibran for a 3 film deal has left all film buffs puzzled. Granted Ghibran is immensely talented and along with Santhosh Narayanan is one of the few bright hopes for the future of tamil film music. But still, a maniacally perfection obsessed Kamal with immediate access to the IRs, ARRs and SELs of the world signing a young composer upfront for 3 projects tells something. I was personally licking my lips, as Ghibran was coming on the back of a very good Thirumanam Enum Nikaah(TEN) and a great Amara Kaaviyam(AK). I was eager to see how Kamal’s amazing script sense, music sense and knowledge of the language marry Ghibran’s new age instrumentation, novel approach to melody and heavy layering work.

Continue reading “Uttama Villain Music Review: Uttama Veri, Unnadha Theri!”

Lunchbox Nominated for (BAFTA) 2015

The year 2015 has started on a high note for Ritesh Batra’s internationally acclaimed and award winning film, The Lunchbox, which is nominated for the Film Not in the English Language category of the British Academy Film Awards 2015 non January 9.

 Ecstatic about this new achievement Batra says, “It’s an honor to be nominated alongside the finest films of the year, much credit to my whole team and the work we did together. It’s a good validation to tell Indian stories to the world, if we don’t tell our own stories, no one else will.”Continue reading “Lunchbox Nominated for (BAFTA) 2015”

The 2014 Tamil Cinema Awards and Hall of Fame: Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we usually reflect back upon the past twelve months and figure out how things have been for Tamil Cinema. This is also the time when we tend to look out for the films that impressed, the actors, directors and other technicians who’ve been in top form and also reflect upon how the future would turn out for them. Film as an art form though universal in appeal, still has the element of personal choice/ preferences playing upon us when it comes to forming an opinion. While it’s very rare to find a near universal acceptance of an opinion, when it comes to films especially these days, the finest contributions really deserve our awards and accolades.

Here is my list of the very best, Tamil cinema had to offer in 2014.

1. Best Actor in Lead Role – Male:

The nominees are

best actor1. Dinesh for his stunning portrayal of the nonchalant, confident and happy-go-lucky sightless youth in ‘Cuckoo

2. Aari for his natural act as violent and rustic highway burglar in ‘Nedunchaalai

3. Vishal for his authentic depiction of a narcoleptic in ‘Naan Sigappu Manithan

4. Siddarth for his feisty acts as the self centered, yet persevering filmmaker in ‘Jigarthanda’ and the emotionally torn stage artist in ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan

5. Karthi for his neat portrayal of the North Madras middle-class youngster in ‘Madras

And, the winner is Dinesh for ‘Cuckoo’.


2. Best Actor in a Lead Role – Female: 

The nominees are

best actress1. Nayanthara for her flawless portrayal of the woman seeking justice in ‘Nee Enge En Anbe’

2. Salony Ruthra for her bold and boisterous act as the mysterious twins in ‘Sarabham

3. Pia Bajpai for her act as the misunderstood rebel in ‘Nerungi Vaa Muthamidathey

4. Vedhika for her sincere portrayal of the lovelorn singer cum dancer in ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan’

5. Ananthi for her terrific peformance as the orphaned girl who falls blindly in love in ‘Kayal

And, the winner is Salony Ruthra for Sarabham


3Best Actor – In a Negative role: 

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Vamsi Krishna for his intense act as the covetous cricketer in ‘Vallinam’

2. Bobby Simha for his no-holds-barred performance as the ruthless gangster in ‘Jigarthanda

3. Prithviraj Sukumaran for his portrayal of the scheming and jealous stage artist in ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan

4. Ashutosh Rana for his unbeleivably subtle act as the invisible mafia don in ‘Meaghamann

5. Natraj Subramaniam for his portrayal of a man of brains, who lives by certain principles. albeit crooked in ‘Sathurangavettai’

And, the winner is Bobby Simha for Jigarthanda.


4. Best Debutante Actor in a Lead Role – Male:  

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Abhinav Vaddi for his near-perfect depiction of the maths wizard in the biographical ‘Ramanujan’

2. Shabeer for his performance as the honest lorry driver in ‘Nerungi Vaa Muthamithade

3. Ashraf for his act as the psychologically traumatised husband in ‘Ra’

4. Naga for his understated performance as the man caught between rationality and paranormality in ‘Pisaasu

5. Chandran for his raw, natural act as the lovable vagabond in ‘Kayal

6. Dulquer Salmaan for his breezy role in ‘Vaayai Moodi Pesavum’

And, the winner is Chandran for Kayal


5. Best Debutante Actor in a Lead Role – Female:   

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Malavika Nair for her splendid performance as as the visually impaired girl who yearns for love in ‘Cuckoo

2. Sugandha Garg for beautifully portraying the pains of love and war in ‘Inam

3. Shivada Nair for her role as the loud, aggressive and righteous dhabba owner in ‘Nedunchaalai

4. Akhila Kishore for her alluring portrayal of a sensitive woman in ‘Kathai Thiraikadhai Vasanam Iyakkam’

5. Mia George for her natural act as the innocent school girl in ‘Amara Kaaviyam

6. Catherine Tresa for representing the true North Madras girl in ‘Madras

7. Prayaga Rose Martin for her physically draining performance as the ghost in ‘Pisaasu’

And, the winner is Malavika Nair for Cuckoo


6Best Actor in a Supporting Role- Male:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Jayaprakash for his simple yet stylish portrayal of the naive Pannaiyaar in ‘Pannaiyarum Padminiyum

2. S. Karan for playing himself as the mentally handicapped war victim in ‘Inam’

3. Nasser for his portrayal of the strict family head in ‘Saivam‘ and the experienced guru in ‘Kaaviyathalaivan’

4. MS. Baskar for his contribution to spicing up the drama in ‘Arima Nambi’

5.  Radharavi for his poignant portrayal of the bereaved father in ‘Pisaasu‘.

6. Kalaiyarasan for his impactful performance as the budding politician in ‘Madras’

And, the award is shared between Nasser for Saivam and Kaaviyathalaivan  and Kalaiyarasan for Madras


7Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female :

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Thulasi for her grounded act as the wife of the village head in ‘Pannaiyarum Padminiyum

2. Sujatha Sivakumar for her portrayal of the loving and protective Aachi in ‘Goli Soda’

3. Saritha for her touching depiction of the mother figure to war victims in ‘Inam’

4. Saranya Ponvannan for her spontaneous performance as a loving mom in ‘VIP’

5. Ritwika for her sensuous and appealing character sketch of a loving wife in ‘Madras’.

And, the winner is Ritwika for Madras


8. Best Actor in a Comical Role:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Bhagavathi Perumal for entertaining us with his looks and lines in ‘Oru Kanniyum Moondru Kalavaanikalum’

2. Pandiarajan for sending us into raptures of laughter as the minister in ‘Vaayai Moodi Pesavum

3. Karunakaran for his brilliant act as the friend in ‘Jigarthanda’ and ‘Yamirukka Bayamey’

4. Kaali Venkat for his sparkling sense of humor in ‘Mundasupatti

5. Bala Saravanan for superbly complimenting Dinesh in bringing the roof down in ‘Thirudan Police

And, the winner is Karunakaran for Jigarthanda and Yamirukka Bayamey


9. Best Child Artist:

FotorCreatedThe nominees are

1. Sara Arjun and 2. Master Ray Paul for their delightful performances in ‘Saivam

3. Vasanth, 4. Gaurav Kalai and 5. Praveen Kishore for their acting escapades in ‘Poovarasam Pee Pee’

And, the winners are Sara Arjun and Master Ray Paul for Saivam


10Best Original Screenplay:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Vijay Milton for his skill at telling a revenge story in a refreshingly innovative way in ‘Goli Soda

2. P. Ramesh for his efforts in writing a novel and compelling conflict targetting the thriller genre in ‘Thegidi’

3. H. Vinoth for his sarcastic and painfully real depiction of the ugly truths in ‘Sathuranga Vettai

4. Karthik Subbaraj for his pure magic on screen in ‘Jigarthanda’

5. Parthiban Rathakrishnan for challenging the rules of ‘Syd Field’ in ‘Kathai Thiraikadhai Vasanam Iyakkam

6. Pa. Ranjith for weaving a ‘slice of life’ drama in ‘Madras’

And, the winner is Karthik Subbaraj for Jigarthanda


11. Best dialogues:

The nominees were

1. H. Vinoth for ‘Sathurangavettai’. “Unnai oruthan emaathunaa avanai edhiriyaa nenaikaadha! Oru vagaila avan unaku Guru!”

2. Karthik Subbaraj for ‘Jigarthanda’. “Enga area la ponnunga irukaanga. Aana unga area la aambalainga illaiyaame?”

3. Parthiban Rathakrishnan for ‘Kathai Thiraikadhai Vasanam Iyakkam’. “Neenga edukra cinema va neenga paathutu daan theatreku anupveengala, illa apdiye straighta theatre ku anupiduveengala?”

4. Raju Murugan for ‘Cuckoo’. “Ovvovurthiyum Saami da! Pombalaingala thittradaiye oru fashiona vechitu alaiyireengalada?”

5. Suseenthiran for ‘Jeeva’. “Pinnaadi Tatti kuduthaarnu nenachen, aana thadavi paathaarunu apuram daan therinjidhu!”

And, the winner is H. Vinoth for Sathurangavettai


12. Best Cinematographer:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Santosh Sivan for providing a realistic and unsympathetic feel of war in ‘Inam’

2. Jeeva Shankar for capturing the lush green rustic essence of Ooty in ‘Amara Kaaviyam’

3. Gavemic U Ary for showing the alluring beauty of the temple city in all its grandeur in ‘Jigarthanda’

4. Ravi Roy for his unconventional frames and lighting in ‘Pisaasu’

5. Vetrivel Mahendran for recording the pristine beauty of Ladakh and Kanyakumari in ‘Kayal’

And, the winner is Ravi Roy for Pisaasu.


13. Best Editor:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Leo John Paul for spicing up the tempo big time in ‘Thegidi

2. M.V. Rajesh Kumar for the slick cuts in ‘Velaiyilla Pattathari’

3. Vivek Harshan for his unique style of intercutting sequences in ‘Jigarthanda’

4. Praveen K.L for the seamlessly flowing narrative in ‘Madras’

5. Gopinath for maintaining the sinister atmosphere and eerie feel in ‘Pisaasu’

And, the winner is Leo John Paul for Thegidi.


14Best Director:

This category considers the making skills of the artist in question, and the way the script is translated to the screen.

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Vijay Milton for his confidence and trust in the audience for ‘masala’ cinema in ‘Goli Soda’

2. Balaji Mohan for his courage to experiment in ‘Vaayai Moodi Pesavum

3. Karthik Subbaraj for his flair for genre defying cinema in ‘Jigarthanda’

4. Pa. Ranjith for his gritty take on caste politics in ‘Madras

5. Suseenthiran for his guts and responsibility to address a sensitive social issue in ‘Jeeva

6. Mysskin for his inspiring style in redefining the horror genre in ‘Pisaasu

And, the winner is Mysskin for Pisaasu.


15. Best Debutante Director:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. S.U. Arun Kumar for taking us on an emotional journey in ‘Pannaiyarum Padminiyum

2. P. Ramesh for thrilling us with a riveting script in ‘Thegidi

3. Raju Murugan for showing us new dimensions of love in ‘Cuckoo

4. Ram for taking us on a hilarious trip in ‘Mundasupatti

5. Vinoth for amusing and shocking us simultaneously in ‘Sathuranga Vettai

6. Dharanidaran for his jazz and style in crafting a heist thriller in ‘Burma

7. Caarthick Raju for his comical take on a drama in ‘Thirudan Police

And, the award is shared by P.Ramesh for Thegidi and Vinoth for Sathurangavettai.


16. Best Original Background Score:

The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Nivas. K. Prasanna for ‘Thegidi’

2. Vishal Chandrasekar for ‘Inam’

3. Santhosh Narayanan for ‘Cuckoo’, ‘Jigarthanda’ and ‘Madras’

4. AR. Rahman for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ and ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan’

5. Arrel Corelli for ‘Pisaasu’

And, the winner is Arrel Corelli for Pisaasu.


17Best Music Director:

 The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Anirudh Ravichander for ‘Maan Karate‘ and ‘Vellaiyilla Pattathari’

2. Ghibran for ‘Thirumanam Enum Nikkah’

3. Santhosh Narayanan for ‘Cuckoo’, ‘Jigarthanda’ and ‘Madras’

4. AR. Rahman for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ and ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan

5. D. Imman for ‘Kayal

And, the winner is Santhosh Narayanan for ‘Cuckoo’, ‘Jigarthanda’ and ‘Madras’.


18Best Art Director:  

 The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Sunil Babu for recreating the war field and atmosphere in ‘Inam’

2. CR. Velu for his mammoth efforts for achieving the period feel in ‘Kochadaiiyaan’

3. Gopi Anand for recording the bygone era with perfection in ‘Mundaasupatti’

4. Santhanam for authentically recreating the stage drama in ‘Kaaviya Thalaivan’

5. T. Ramalingam for attempting the North Madras feel with lots of conviction in ‘Madras’

And, the winner is Sunil Babu for Inam.


 19Best Lyricist:

 The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Vaali for “Onakaaga Poranthaenae” (Pannaiyarum Padminiyum) and the ‘Alli Arjuna’ series (Kaaviyathalaivan)

2. Kabilan for “Vinmeen Vithaiyil” (Thegidi)

3. Yugabharathi for “Aagasatha” (Cuckoo)

4. Vairamuthu for “Maattram Ondrudhaan Maaraadhadhu” and “Manappenin Sathiyam” (Kochadaaiyaan)

5. Karthik Netha for “Enthara Enthara” (Thirumanam Enum Nikkah)

And, the winner is Vairamuthu for the tracks “Maattram Ondrudhaan Maaraadhadhu” and “Manappenin Sathiyam” from Kochadaaiyaan 


20Best Male playback singer:

 The nominees are

FotorCreated1. RR for “Potta Pulla” and “Manasula Surakatre” (Cuckoo)

2. SP. Balasubrahmanyam for “Engae Pogudho Vaanam” and “Meduvaagathaan” (Kochadaiiyaan)

3. Arun Raja for “Ding Dong” (Jigarthanda)

4. Shadab Faridi for “Enthaara” (Thirumanam Enum NIkkah)

5. Haricharan for “Alli Arjuna” ,“Sandhi Kuthirai” (Kaaviyathalaivan) and “Paravaiyai Parakirom” (Kayal)

6. Gana Bala for “Kakidha Kappal” (Madras)

And, the winner is Haricharan for the tracks “Alli Arjuna” ,“Sandhi Kuthirai” (Kaaviyathalaivan) and “Paravaiyai Parakirom” (Kayal)


21Best Female Playback Singer:

 The nominees are

FotorCreated1. Saindhavi for “Vinmeen Vithaiyil” (Thegidi)

2. Kalyani Nair for “Agasatha” (Cuckoo)

3. Shruthi Haasan for “Un Vizhigalil” (Maan Karate)

4. Chinmayee for “Idhayam” (Kochadaiiyaan) and “Enthaara” (Thirumanam Enum Nikkah)

5. Rita for “Kannamma” (Jigarthanda)

6. Shaktishree Gopalan for “Naan Nee” (Madras)

7. Kaushiki Desikan for “Chillendra Chillendra” (Thirumanam Enum Nikkah)

8. Sweta Mohan for “Yaarumillaa” (Kaaviyathalaivan)

9. Shreya Goshal for “Yengirindhu Vandhaayo” (Kayal)

10. Uthara Unnikrishnan for “Nadhi Pogum Koozhangal” (Pisaasu) and “Azhagu” (Saivam)

And, this award is shared by Shaktishree Gopalan for “Naan Nee” (Madras) and Uthara Unnikrishnan for “Nadhi Pogum Koozhangal” (Pisaasu) and “Azhagu” (Saivam)


22. Best Dance Choreographer:

 The nominees are

dance1. Baskar for  “What a Karvaad” (Vellaiyilla Pattathari)  and “Paandinaattu Kodi”  (Jigarthanda)

2. Shobi Paulraj for “Pakkam Vanthu” (Kaththi)

3. Raghuram Master for “Thirupugazh” (Kaaviyathalaivan)

4. Satish for “Kakidha Kappal” (Madras)

5. Yuvraaj Jayakumar for the Rudhratandavam dance  (Kochadaiiyaan)

6. Gururaj for “Petromax Lightaedaan Venumaa” (Aranmanai)

And, the winner is Baskar for  “What a Karvaad” (Vellaiyilla Pattathari)  and “Paandinaattu Kodi”  (Jigarthanda).


23Best Costume Designer:

The nominees are

costumes1. Sathya NJ and Vasukhi Bhaskar for ‘Maan Karate’

2. Khushbu Doshi  and Eka Lakhani for ‘Inam

3. Neeta Lulla for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’

4. Jegathesan for ‘Mundasupatti’

5. Perumal Selvam and Niranjani Agathiyan for ‘Kaaviyathalaivan’.

And, the winner is Neeta Lulla for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’


24. Best Make-up Consultant:

 makeupppThe nominees are

1. Ranjith Ambady for ‘Inam

2. Lalitha for ‘Yaamirukka Bayamey’ and ‘Pisaasu’

3. Niranjani Agathiyan for ‘Kaaviyathalaivan’

And, the winner is Niranjani Agathiyan for ‘Kaaviyathalaivan’


25. Best Stunt Director :

 stuntsThe nominees are

1. Peter Hein for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’

2. Anal Arasu for ‘Meaghamann’

3. Tony for ‘Pisaasu’

4. Mahesh for ‘Burma’

5. Supreme Sundar for ‘Golisoda’

And the winner is Supreme Sundar for Golisoda


 

26Best Crew: For the film Jigarthanda


 

27. Best film of 2014: Jigarthanda.

Avargal (1977): A Melody Of Human Understanding

Language : Tamil | Running Time : 159 Minutes | Director : K. Balachander

Avargal PosterA few minutes of a train journey in Avargal and you have family dynamics come alive. You see a young woman in love, her man has proclaimed to wait for her no matter how long it takes, her parents themselves fell in love and got married, so she is sure that there will be no opposition. They are the kind of people who can make fun of each other and still be together, their daughter always taking the dad’s side. This is family dynamics you see at your home, when your sister teases your mother and holds your dad’s hand when she is doing it. This family dynamic is ever present in a K.Balachander movie where people in the family talk like  regular people do. In a K.Balachander movie, people always feel real, the canvas may seem like a theater stage, sometimes over the top but the people are never over the top, they are underscored, real, the neighbours and family members you have heard of and seen. Somewhere along the way, our movies failed to hold on to such writing, we started approaching writing differently, the themes changed and have kept on changing. I am not sure I’d say that our writing has evolved better but our staging certainly has.Continue reading “Avargal (1977): A Melody Of Human Understanding”

Imaging Cinema 2014: Screenwriting and Filmmaking Workshop at IIT Madras

Imaging Cinema Poster_For Web (4)IIT Madras is presenting  Imaging Cinema 2014, a Screenwriting-cum-Filmmaking Workshop from 7-14 June. The focus is on various aspects of screenwriting. Sessions on screenwriting will be conducted by experienced resource persons. Special session on aspects of direction and screenwriters will be conducted by established names from Mumbai and South Indian cine industries. Continue reading “Imaging Cinema 2014: Screenwriting and Filmmaking Workshop at IIT Madras”

12 Interesting Facts About the 12/12/12 Man-Rajinikanth

Rajnikanth CollageThis post is dedicated to the one and only Superstar Rajinikanth who celebrates his 62nd birthday today ( 12/12/12 ). So how about looking at 12 interesting details about the person on this occasion? If you are an ardent Rajini fan then I guess you should be aware of most of these facts.So here we go- Continue reading “12 Interesting Facts About the 12/12/12 Man-Rajinikanth”

Roja-The Rose That Smelled A Genius

ROJA

With around 10 films (in all four major South Indian languages) under his belt and 3 National Awards to his credit, Mani Ratnam had become a big thing down South. Feroze Khan had officially adapted one of his films ‘Nayagan’ into ‘Dayavan’. And ‘Anjali’ as a children’s film also became popular among many families. However, the director was yet to become a household name outside the South Indian Film Industry. That’s when ROJA happened.

Mani Sir’s penchant for films revolving around terrorism and terror stricken families is not uncommon. From Kannathil Muththamittaal, Dil Se, to Bombay (not terror but Mumbai riot), he has dealt with the repercussions of violence with varied plots and intriguing storylines. And Roja was one of his earliest attempts at the same.

Everyone’s aware of the political turmoil that has been plaguing the Kashmir valley from time immemorial. For a regional film industry, dealing with national or internationally sensitive issues is itself a tough task, because you risk the chances of disconnect with the local audience. In that margin itself, Roja stands out as a brave film.

But that act of bravery is the least of the credible aspects of ROJA. For me, the factors that work majorly in favour of ROJA are:

1) the love story between Madhu & Arvind
2) the politics of language
3) Pankaj Kapur as the terrorist with a good heart
4) the MUSIC

1. Lets start with the Love Story.

I won’t talk about the plotline, coz I am sure everyone here is already aware of the same. I still remember the scene where Arvind Swamy chooses Madhu over her elder sister (of course there was a reason behind it) and her reaction about that. The man she adored at the first sight suddenly appears as the villain, for having chosen her for marriage. The coldness in her reaction continues till the revelation comes, just before they head off to Kashmir. Though the Hindi dialogue ‘main bohut bhola dikhta hoon na?’ [or something like that] sounded extremely cheesy, but the chemistry between Arvind & Madhu more than made up for it. Two more scenes that work brilliantly for the film:

a) When Arvind gets kidnapped – the entire scene is sudden and shocking. The way Madhu helplessly chases the cars for so long leaves me with goosebumps everytime I see the film.
b) The climax when Arvind is finally set free and he staggers across the bridge, with Madhu running in from the other end, with ‘Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyaara Hai’ playing in the background. That scene never fails to moisten my eyes.

Of course, the entire passion in their love, her interactions with the temple guy, his attempts to flee and save the Indian flag – it would be very tough to segregate great scenes from a film, which has scores of those.

2. The Politics of Language

It is a rarely discussed thing in Indian cinema – which is almost always lost in its delusion of happiness. Especially, in a country like India, where every region is distinct in its choice of language, culture and traditions, the politics of language is a very big thing. We all know about the Hindi – non-Hindi divide that is still deterrent in a true amalgamation of South & North India. While the former thinks that Hindi has been pushed down their throats as a National Language, the latter ridicules the former for being non-conversant with it. Roja, in a subtle non-controversial way, presented this disparity in the conversation between Roja (the Tamilian girl who doesn’t understand Hindi) and the primarily Sikh army officers who don’t understand Tamil. The plight of the woman who is trying to convince the soldiers to help her husband and yet the inability to communicate the same was one of the masterstrokes of the film. Special mention is deserved by the actor who played the temple guy who acts as the mediator cum translator between Roja and the army men. What irked me about the Hindi version of Roja, was the fact that this entire aspect of the film got diluted. What was a Tamil – Hindi debate, became a Hindi – English thing, where the focus shifted from the language war to that of literacy and illiteracy. I know there was not much way out for the director when he wanted to come out with the dubbed Hindi version. Yet…

3. Pankaj Kapur as Liaqat

If Shahid were half as good an actor as his father, he would have been a superstar. There is no denying the fact that the film belonged to Madhu, who as the eponymous protagonist, put in an extremely earnest effort and did a fabulous job at portraying Roja. It was the role of her career and a dream-role for any actress to portray. Arvind Swamy became a sensation among women. And all the aunties went lusting about the soft faced, thick mustached, plump man (by Bollywood standards at least) who, no doubt, played the role of Rishi (the ideal husband – citizen – journalist) ably. But he hammed a bit too much in his emotional scenes, where he overacted (in my opinion) to express the pain and honour. Though I must mention that the scene where he risks his life to save the burning Indian flag is one of the highpoints of the film and Arvind Swamy deserves all the claps that he got for that scene. The Kashmiri girl, who serves food to Arvind and delivers a soft corner for him, left a strong impact even in that miniscule role. However, Pankaj Kapur as the terrorist with ideals – and trying to balance the counter forces running in his heart, is simply outstanding. The man has given several delectable performances and Roja is a reaffirmation of his standard. His respect for Arvind Swamy’s character, gradual dilemma over his own actions (especially after the death of his brother), staunchness of thoughts, every reaction is so balanced that you almost feel bad for him at the end. You know the mark of a great actor when he converses with his eyes, and you overlook his physical stature because his character rises way beyond it. While reminiscing Kapur’s performance in Roja, I cannot help but think of another extra-ordinary performance by this actor (of course he has many more) in Maqbool.

4. MUSIC

We all know that ROJA was the launchpad for the most revered musician of today’s film music – A R Rahman. Everyone knows Mani Sir prefers working with the best technician available in the industry. He had a long collaboration with the great music director Ilaiyaraja in his previous films. However, with ROJA, Mani Sir brought a new guy to the recording. And trust one genius to find another. Rahman came, Rahman saw, Rahman conquered. Every song in the album is a marvel – proudly reflecting the magnificence of the composer. Not only the debut of Rahman, ROJA also ushered the entire concept of digitally composed music into the Indian film fraternity. The fact that TIME Magazine has listed Roja’s album as one of the top 10 soundtracks of all time speaks a lot about the quality of it. However, the irony is that the weakest of the songs (though not weak by any standard margin) was also the most popular – Rukhmini Rukhmini with its corny lyrics and peppy beats became an instant hir. My favourites, however, are Dil Hai Chhota Sa and Yeh Haseen Wadiya.. The lilting melody coupled with Chitra and Hariharan’s voice spell magic even now.. (Yes, I am referring to the Hindi names for the songs because that’s how I have heard them, loved them and remembered them).. The background music is equally amazing with Bharat Humko Jaan as the only non-lip sync song being extremely effective..

What made the songs even more special were the visuals – whether it’s the lush green Tamil Nadu, the small boat floating over the river, or the snow capped terrain of Kashmir, Santosh Sivan’s camera enhanced the mood of every song. The DOP, one of the finest in the country, has produced some other great works with Ratnam as well, which include Dil Se and Raavan / Raavanan. His brilliance has already been elaborated in some of the previous posts in the Blogathon, so I won’t repeat the same..

Roja is definitely one of the current age classics, and will go down as a trendsetter for many reasons. Undoubtedly a technical wonder, with a strong political undertone (it had been rumoured that Roja became so popular that even the terrorists of Kashmir got a copy of it), what makes the film glitter the most is the strong humane element and the undying love (one of the most under-rated romances of Indian cinema) between the pair. At the same time, when a filmmaker creates a wonder like Roja, he has to live up to the burden of maintain such high standards everytime he sets out to make a movie. To an extent, Roja suffers from the successor syndrome. Though Mani Sir has created some brilliant film post Mumbai, none have come up to Roja. Though I can’t claim to have seen all his works, but of those that I have, Nayagan is the only one I can give a stature as high as Roja. Given the fact that Mani Sis is making a female protagonist film (KADAL) now, almost 20 years post ROJA, it would be very interesting to see if the director can make his forthcoming work match up to his previous films.

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)