Friday, December 08, 2006

An uninformed look on Ratnam (from me)

I apologise to my readers for taking another short-cut.
I used to think, based on Roja and Bombay, Mani Ratnam was over-rated. Good, but not the genius he was made out to be. However, all changed when Dil Se happened. It was a movie on which I could not comment immediately. I distinctly remember saying that the first half was too much form and little substance, but at the end of it, the sheer poetry of the movie (helped to a great extent by Gulzar and Rehman) had blown me away.
I liked his followup Hindi movie, Yuva, also quiet a lot. In the meantime, I also caught up with Dalpathy (dubbed in Hindi), Nayakan, Alaipayuthey, and Kannathi Mutthamithal.
Dalpathy was an awesome adaptation of Dinkar's Rashmirathi (Karna's story) - clash of the Tamil and Malayalam titans (Rajani and Mammooty), great score by Illaiyaraja (in the 90s he was dumped for Rehman), and simple effective story-telling.
Nayakan found a spot in Time's list of 100 best films of all time. The movie is again a fairly simple tale beautifully told, and becomes more obviously great when you see the frame-by-frame Hindi remake, Dayavan (the only reason I remember Feroz Khan's mediocre fare is for Madhuri Dixit).
Ratnam supposedly went back to his roots when he made Alipayuthey, a very good film well copied and remade this time in Hindi by his Assistant Shaad Ali as Saathiya. The movie was a mature look at young romance and marriage, and again looks much better when you compare it with SRK's super-ordinary Chalte Chalte. Kannathil is all about the new Ratnam stereotypes - popular stars in good performance-oriented roles (Madhavan and Simran), great locales and song-picturisation (in Sri Lanka), and a mix of drama and real-life politics (usually painting a superficial or flawed picture).
However, I write this piece to put in the link below from a chap whose writing most of us follow, Baradwaj Rangan. I greatly admire his writing (aspirational for sure), some very interesting insights (until he likes Jaan-e-mann), and a fresh perpective on most things.
Below is an old link he has put on Tamil cinema, and Iruvar on his blogs. And it is so bloody informative on India's second largest film-industry that I could not resist putting it for the reference of those who still might have missed it.

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