Ilaiyaraaja and Mani Ratnam: On their shared birthday, ten songs from their ten films

Posted on June 2, 2020


Here are the top numbers from each film, where they both leave their respective marks: in other words, song sequences that stand out because of the music as well as the staging.

Is the Ilaiyaraaja-Mani Ratnam combination the greatest among all the other directors the great composer has made great music for? I’m not sure. But at least one aspect singles out these two creators. Whenever they came together, there were two levels of anticipation. (1) What will the album sound like? (2) What will the songs look like on screen? Here’s my list. What’s yours?

Pallavi Anu Pallavi (1983): In this first film, there isn’t yet a “Mani Ratnam style” of song. The numbers are shot in the “Balu Mahendra style” (he was the cinematographer), montages of people simply doing everyday things, like we saw in Poo vannam pola nenjam (Azhiyatha Kolangal) or Paruva kaalangalin kanavu (Moodupani). But in the exquisitely tuned and sung Nagu endide manjina bindu, we see the “Mani Ratnam style” of heroine, a single mother played by Lakshmi. Few other mainstream filmmakers have consistently told stories centred on married women. The other signature touch is an urbanite being shown with an unfussy mix of tradition and modernity. At one point in the song, we see Lakshmi in a sari, worshipping the tulsi plant. Elsewhere, she’s in midis, jeans, she’s seen reading a magazine in bed. She’s a sad separated wife. She’s a happy mother. She’s also her own person.

Read the rest of this article here:

Copyright ©2020 Film Companion.