Indian Cinema was raised to a new level of film making – one of the reasons being the legendary director Mani Ratnam. His unique style of camera work, beautiful picturization of songs, simple characterizations and amazing selection of subjects all cater to the brilliance this gentleman possess. Mani Ratnam is an inspiration for many of the aspiring young film makers. Entering the Film making arena at a time where people were looking for some new style of films, Mani Ratnam still continues to make his mark on Indian Cinema consistently. Telugu Cinema has been highly influenced and enthralled by Mani Ratnam films as most of his films were dubbed in Telugu. In the same way, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s music enthralled Telugu Audience in every musical way one can imagine of. Is it time to relive their association which dates back to 80s.
Mani Ratnam, based essentially from Madras studied MBA in prestigious Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Mangement Studies, Mumbai. His early interest of films prodded him to become a film maker after few years of working in Management Consultant. His first film was in Kannada named Pallavi Anupallavi (1981) starring Hindi Actor Anil Kapoor, Lakshmi in lead roles. The young management degree holder Mani Ratnam approached Ilaiyaraaja to score music for his film. He was not confident of whether Ilaiyaraaja (Who was already in his peaks of career) would agree for a film made by a newcomer like him. But Maestro liked the subject and readily agreed to score for the film.
The film was dubbed in Telugu as well with the same title and earned Mani Ratnam as a director with different taste. But he had to wait till Mouna Raagam (1986) to get his first commercial success. He learnt about Commercial Cinema quite quickly and improved with every film he made in regular intervals of time. But Mouna Raagam still remains to be the breakthrough film for Mani’s career- for the simplicity of characters, Music, Camerawork and Cinematography. His friend PC Sreeram worked as a cameraman for most of Mani Ratnam films, making his movies a visual treat to South Indian film audience. The influence of Mouna Ragam on the youth of the 80s was so remarkable that every young girl of that age wanted a guy like Karthik in the film as her lover and Mohan as their husband- for the memorable roles they played! The background score for Mouna Raagam still works wonders like a healing potion- to many listeners till date! Revathi’s pserformance in Mouna Raagam made Telugu Audience notice her for the first time and she did some phenomenal films later!
The combination of Mani Ratnam and Karthik came yet again with Agni Nakshatram (Gharshana in Telugu) which was a rage those days for what it offered. The usage of techno instruments, superior re-recording and modern songs made it a 100 days successful run in Telugu as well. The song Rajadhi Raja became an anthem of the youth not just for the fantastic music by Ilaiyaraaja but also for the realistic costumes of Karthik, lighting and brilliant portrayal of youth from the 80s.
Mani’s films were influencing not only the original land, that is Tamil Nadu but also Andhra Pradesh-where they took the dubbing movie form! One of the most unique aspects of Mani Ratnam’s films is the way he picturizes songs. He treats the song like a story within itself, with a styled theme. The mood of the song is clearly reflected in the frames he chooses so perfectly. Mani Ratnam’s Nayakudu which came little later was based on the English epic Godfather stationed in an indigenous theme. It so happened that Ilaiyaraaja was working on Nayakudu recording with Indian Instruments during mornings, and simultaneously recording with contrasting electronic equipment during afternoons for Gharshana!
Geethanjali is Mani Ratnam’s only straight Telugu Film and just like the quality matters instead of the quantity- this one film is enough to stun the Telugu Cinema History for ages. Geethanjali redefined he way love stories had to be filmed, with simple characterizations, breathtaking locations of Ooty and wonderful songs. A stream of film makers in Telugu started looking as Ooty for their ideal destination for filming after Geethanjali was released! By the time Geethanjali was released, the photo of Maestro Ilaiyaraaja was featured on the banners and posters in front of the theatres. Such was the strong influence of this eternal combination.
Dalapathi featured two big stars of South India, Rajnikanth and Mamootty on the same screen – that too portraying off beat roles. Nevertheless, Mani Ratnam did not forget the mass appeal of Rajnikanth and made a masterpiece Chilakamma Chitikeyyanta which is featured in BBC’s top 10 list of best songs of all time. The unique symphony portions and interludes were a trademark of Ilaiyaraaja!
Mani Ratnam is one daring director who took the subjects like a mentally challenged girl as the protagonist (Anjali) and the issue of Terrorism (Bombay, Roja), Suicide Bombing (Dil Se), Mafia (Nayakudu, Dalapathi), Politics (Iddaru, Amrutha , Guru etc) , and so on and executed them with amazing perfection. He also thrilled the audience with adventure films like Donga Donga pairing with veteran director Ram Gopal Varma for this project. His love story based films are like a beautiful painting with wonderful palette of colours. Known for his association with the best in every field of Film making- such as Santhosh Shivan, Rajeev Menon for Cinematography- Mani Ratnam is one amazing perfectionist in discovering new acting talents in Film Industry as well. The handsome actors Aravind Swamy and Madhavan were his discoveries.
Mani Ratnam worked regularly with Maestro Ilaiyaraja right from his first project and the duo produced musical wonders during the 80s era. Beginning with Mouna Ragam, their association started getting better with films like Nayakudu (Nayagan), Gharshana (Agni Nakshatram) , Anjali (Anjali) , Dalapathi (Dalapathi) and so on. Every song which emerged in their combination was commercially successful and appeal to music connoisseurs and normal listeners alike. Mani Ratnam holds Ilaiyaraaja with great respect and always was amazed with the latter’s ability to compose amazing background scores for each of his films.
Telugu Cinema is highly fortunate to have Mani Ratnam’s films dubbed which gave the audience a great relief from the regular flavor of sentiment, action and most importantly- Music and Framing of each scene!
Today is one unique day where the amazing duo Mani Ratnam and Ilaiyaraaja share their birthdays. Iqlikmovies wishes both the greatest film personalities a very happy birthday and a great year ahead!
On this memorable occasion iQlikmovies remembers some of the eternal songs which came from their combination. These songs are chosen out of the best blend of visuals as well as fantastic music score which graces them.
- Manasu Manasu Kalise Samayam- Pallavi Anupallavi ( Adapted later for IDEA cellular theme tune)
- Cheli Raava- Mouna Raagam
- Ninnu Kori- Gharshana
- Nee Goodu Chedirindhi- Nayakudu
- Oh Priya Priya- Geethanjali
- Singarala Pairullona- Dalapathi
- Anjali Anjali- Anjali
- Sundari Nene Nuvvanta- Dalapathi
- Raja Rajathi Raja- Gharshana
- Jallantha Kavvintha- Geethanjali
Trivia: Though there has been a confusion regarding Maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s birthday being on 3rd of June, his original birthday remains to be 2nd and he himself clarified it saying he celebrates on 3rd june despite being it on 2nd not to clash with the birthday of Karunanidhi.