Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maniratnam's Magic with Train and Rain

Every artist in his work reflects his or her personal characteristics, who he or she really is, or want to be. How they want to see things in their life is largely apparent in their works. If the artist is a filmmaker, you can see such fascinations repeatedly occurring in their films. One can find the same aspect in Maniratnam, one of the most talented filmmakers of Indian cinema. Maniratnam is well known for his distinctive direction style, handling controversial subjects, and visual splendor. However his fascination about rain and train are not widely known by many. His enchantment about rain and train is visible in all his movies, making them integral features in his films. His unique talent of be-charming the audiences by perfect placing of the train and rain is an aspect one cannot see in any other director. Well… let’s briefly explore his rainy world. 

Maniratnam - The magical man
Rain, nature’s most beautiful aspect, is often considered a romantic element in most of the regional movies. But it really matters how it is portrayed and director Maniratnam mastered that art years before. In almost all the movies he has directed, love blossoms between the hero and heroine in the midst of rain, drizzle, mist or foggy environment with a pleasant breeze and music. In the classic Mouna Ragam, Manohar (Karthik) chases Divya (Revathi) and at last wins her heart after a series of mishaps. Their romance is the most interesting part of the film which starts blossoming in a rainy night. In Dil Se, Shahrukh and Manisha meet for the first time in a rainy dawn at a railway station where he falls for her at first sight.

If not romance, then its violence and racy emotions heavily supported by rain, as in Thalapathy in which Rajini’s character thrashes goons in a rainy night, one of superstar’s most heroic intro scenes. The emotional encounters usually take place with a great support rain. The song Evano Oruvan Vaasikkiran in Alaipayuthe where Karthick (R. Madhavan) searches his lover Sakthi (Shalini) in the backdrop of drizzle and breeze and wailing winds has one of the finest emotions with soulful voice from the late singer Swarnalatha. Simply poetic..!! 
A love-sick maddy in Alaipayuthe
Mani’s last flick Raavanan has a gloomy and drizzling environment throughout as it is set in hilly region. Not only romance and emotional scenes, songs in his film are also usually set in rain, for example andhi mazhai megam from Nayagan, Kannaikatti kollathe from Iruvar, the former film considered as one of the greatest films. His fascination about rain doesn’t simply end here. When most tamil movie heroes have intro songs, he gives her heroines intro song, letting them dance in rain. Teenagers in 80s were crazy about the film Mouna Raagam where a dance number is done by Revathi in the song megam vandadho. Another lucky star to dance in rain is Aishwarya Rai in the film Guru in the song barso re.
Aishwarya Rai in Guru
Another fascination of the ace director is the portrayal of trains in his films. The vivacious song Chaiya Chaiya in Dil Se is performed by SRK on top of a train. raja rajathi rajan indha song from Agni natchathiram, one of the most performed songs in many college cultural events, was also set in train. Not only songs, some of the crucial scenes also take place in trains. The opening scene of Thalapathy is the most crucial scene in the film where a new born is abandoned in a goods carrier, a soulful and painful scene with whistling train adding more power to it. A very emotional climax in Mouna Ragam, a tension building climax in Raavanan where Dev questioning her wife Raagini’s (Aishwarya) infidelity, Velu (Kamal) sending away his children for their safety in Nayagan, and love proposal in Alaipayuthe were also some noteworthy shots set in train.

Chaiya chaiya (Dil Se)
Maddy's proposal to Shalini in Alaipayuthe

For those who haven’t seen his movies or only a few, you’d be surprised to know this fact if you give a close observation, like how I was surprised.  This close observation also reveals a fact about how he loves women or how he wants to see young women. In most of his films, the leading ladies have same attitude, energy, fun-loving, secretive and unconditionally good characterizations. Anyone who is an ardent fan of Maniratnam, or fond of romantic movies would’ve surely observed his magic with train and rain. Expecting his magic in his upcoming film Kadal…


  1. Very good observation. One of the few Indian director to have such a excellent style and flair.

  2. Thanks Arun.. He has many uniqueness to his credit.. he has never worked as assistant director before making his first film, never went abroad to shooting until Guru, and not after guru..

  3. Good Observation and analogy.

    I have seen both and loved Alai payuthey!

    1. Glad you like it Ekta.. Watch out his other flicks too..

  4. great analysis and observations. He is one of my fav directors....

  5. I am not a fan of Mani but i do watch his films for the music :D

    1. that's good to hear Ghazala... Music is a key aspect in Mani's films. I hope you have seen his 80s hits. they have some best music from maestro Ilayaraja.. and recent ones too,from Rahman..