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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Mani Ratnam, ‘The king of romance’…oh really? Tell me more…

Mani Ratnam, ‘The king of romance’…oh really? Tell me more…

Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani or OK Kanmani has been released and the film has opened amidst unanimous positive reviews from critics, theater owners are happy and most importantly Tamil cinema audiences extremely delighted as the ‘King of romance’ is back. But should we really confine, the legendary Mani Ratnam only within a small circle called romance?  Come on guys accept the fact… he is much more on that.

I really loved watching and reading all the recent interviews  of Mani Ratnam as he was  busy promoting OK Kanmani but as a fellow movie buff in the media, I sheepishly accept the fact that I’m extremely disappointed for not utilizing the opportunity to interact with him. I know… bad luck but forget that, coming to the point “Every single interview had this question… Mani sir you are king of romance and you are known for making romantic films… yada...yada... yada... “and I could sense the mixed reaction of proud and denial from Mani Ratnam. Yes, Mani is indeed the king of romance but he is also the king of most of the genres he has chosen so far, in his replies to various interviews Mani humbly pointed out "I've tried different genres, you people prefer to like one"

I would profoundly declare, Mani as King of biopic and no other film-maker in the country could make a better biopic than Mani Ratnam. Ah, you want some examples right? Take that yaar.  Nayagan (Varadaraja Mudaliar) , Guru (Ambani) , Iruvar (MGR –Karunanidhi), of course all these films begin with a disclaimer ‘ “All characters and events depicted in this film are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental” otherwise the great Indian democracy and censor would have banned these epic films - sad state of affairs.

Similarly, Mani is the king of mythological adaptation. Perplexed?  Hey you loved RojaThalapathi and some minority group like me enjoyed Raavanan, right? All these are the inspired from mythological works like Satyavan-Savithri, Mahabarat and Ramayana.

Who other than Mani Ratnam effectively conveyed the terrorism and its ill impacts via  films like Roja, Bombay and Dilse.

There is an extra-ordinary commercial director hidden inside Mani Ratnam. We do love his Agni Natchathiram, Thiruda Thiruda right? And I’m seeing his Kadal as another commercial attempt made by Mani Ratnam for some reasons he couldn't pull it off and the great thing about Mani is that he is accepting his failure, how many directors have guts to accept their failure in media interactions?

No other director other than Mani Ratnam could effective register the political conflicts in the country. His Kannathil Muthamittal is one of the best works which portrayed the state of Tamil people in Sri Lanka, good thing about Mani is that he never blamed Sri Lankan government or LTTE in the film but as a creator he merely registered the pain of those people from which we audience should conclude what is right and what is wrong.

Iruvar and Aayutha Ezhuthu would also come under the political genre, where the latter also had an underlying biopic of George Reddy who is a research student from Osmania university and based on him, Mani sketched the character of Michael Vasanth(Suriya).

After reading all these facts, do you people really want to confine Mani as mere ‘King of Romance’? At least he won’t settle himself with the romantic stories alone.

The ambitious Mani Ratnam would definitely try and explore different genres but when we Tamil audiences let him down with his experimental attempts, he has no other option but to make a safe-bet romantic film. I know, things were not extra-ordinary in Kadal orRaavanan but it’s still better than many other trashes (would have used a offensive word but in order to make the article family-friendly, I prefer trashes) we see every Friday both deserved at least average collections at the box office.

The same happened to another passionate guy called Kamal Haasan, he has given gem of films like Guna, Heyram , Anbe Sivam andVirumandi  and we all know he couldn't make much money from these projects so he gave the audience-friendly comedy movies likePanchathanthiram, Michael Madana Kamarajan, Thenali, Pammal K Sambantham and invest all the profit earned into his next ambitious project.

I’m not really complaining here, as a matter of fact  I equally love the romantic movie and comic movies of Mani Ratnam and Kamal Haasan because they make these films with great sincerity and painstaking efforts like their rest of the movies but I really wish audience will start accepting their out of the box, ambitious attempts as well.

-Rajasekar S

Edited version of this column could be seen here

Friday, 17 April 2015

O Kadhal Kanmani aka OK Kanmani review

There is so much of positivity and poignant moments in Mani Ratnam's O Kadhal Kanmani that the exhilarating energy begins with the title card itself, where we are introduced with the profession our protagonist Aadhi Varadarajan (Dulquer Salmaan) who is an avid gamer.

The super cool animated Mumbai city along with AR Rahman's alluring music elevates the energy to a different level, cut to the present we are shown Dulquer at a railway station and sees the cherubic Tara (Nithya Menon) who is threatening a guy that she is going to fall in front of a train. Soon in their second meet, they talk about their disbelief in marriage, fall in love, enter into live-in relationship but strangely everything is extremely believable.

There is something cute and lovely about Aadhi and Tara as whatever they do in O Kadhal Kanmani is amusingly adorable, all thanks to the authentic characterization and dialogues. For example, Aadhi comes to Tara’s office and asks her out... she hesitates to be the pillion and he immediately says 'Na Venna un koodavey Thallitu nadanthu Varatuma' which puts a big grin in our face, in the other scene both of them decide to stay in a lodge, she asks 'unaala nalla paiyen ah iruka mudiyuma' and he says 'mudiyum aana un kooda kashtam', the entire film is filled with such cute moments which is the biggest strength of O Kadhal Kanmani.

The painstaking effort of Mani Ratnam must be lauded here, unlike other directors Mani’s detailing in the protagonists' professions are simply superb. We see Aadhi narrating his game idea, launching the trailer, we see Tara go to Ahmadabad to know about the ancient architecture yet the romance between the duo is intact, hail Mani Ratnam!  

If Mani Ratnam captures the young urban romance with Aadhi and Tara, the traditional aesthetic romance is conveyed through the Ganapathy (Prakash Raj) and Bhavani pair (Leela Samson), the latter is affected by Alzheimer disease. Interesting thing is that their relationship is not portrayed with melodrama; the energy level is as equal as the Tara and Aadhi pair. A conversation goes like this as Ganapathy narrates how he met Bhavani, Ganapathi: En Friend oruthan aranganathan nu peru periya doct, sangeetham onnum theiryathu aana bhavani ya sight adikavey kacheriku varuvan, Bhavani:  aaha Neenga mattum kannu mooditu paatu kettingala Ganapathi...  the writing of Mani Ratnam is extremely enjoyable... man this guy's life must be filled with so much of romance.

I also really like way the trendy Tara and Aadhi accept the traditional marriage life of Bhavani and Ganapathy is another poignant moment in the film. While searching for the missed Bhavani, Tara feels for Ganapathy and she says 'Ganapathy uncle mathri yaarum avangala pathuka mudiyathu' ....  Aadhi stops her: Adhulam illa, avarey mathriye mathavangalum pathukuvanga . Tell you what.... Mani's writing is  tempting me to write all the dialogues in the film but I prefer to stop here,  by the way watch out for the cute climax!

Discussing about the performances, Dulquer is very natural and the actor is filled with a lot of energy while Nithya is cute and highly spontaneous. Prakash Raj puts in all his experience as the old caring husband while Leela Samson attracts us with her innocent yet charming act.

Technically O Kadhal Kanmani is superior as both AR Rahman and PC Sreeram have given their career best work for Mani Ratnam as the master craftsman himself is in tremendous form. 

The way Mani updates himself is tremendous, especially the end credits roll out with an animation sequence where he tells us the post-marriage life of Tara and Aadhi. In recent times,  I didn't see any other Tamil film with so much of creativity and detailing. 

Mani is back with a bang guys, go for it!

PS:  " Reviews and Ratings should not be confused with Box Office prediction meter, no it's not"
(An edited and added inputs of the review could be seen in

Verdict: Celebration of love

Rating: 3.5/5

Cast: Dulquer, Nithya Menon, Prakash Raj, Leela Samson
Director: Mani Ratnam
Music: AR Rahman
Production: Madras Talkies