I have often wondered about the portrayal of father-son relationship in Mani Ratnam’s movies.
Characters played by Murali & Sarath Babu in Pagal Nilavu, Mohan in Mouna Raagam, Kamal in Nayagan, Mammootty in Thalapathy, Arvind Samy in Roja, Prashanth and Anand in Thiruda Thiruda, Mohanlal in Iruvar, Madhavan in Kannathil Muthamittal and Suriya & Madhavan in Aayitha Ezhuthu – Father of none of these characters are alive. In Nayagan and Aayitha Ezhuthu, it is evident from some scenes that their fathers have had a positive influence on Kamal and Suriya.
There is no mention about Raghuvaran’s parents in Anjali. I don’t remember about Geethanjali, Dil Se and Prakash Raj’s father in Iruvar. I have no idea about Idhaya Kovil, Pallavi Anupallavi and Unaru since I have not watched these movies.
Coming to the movies in which the fathers of the heroes are alive, characters played by Karthik & Prabhu in Agni Natchatiram, Arvind Samy in Bombay, Madhavan in Alaipayuthey, Madhavan in Dumm Dumm Dumm (Story & Screenplay is by Mani Ratnam for this movie), Siddharth in Aayitha Ezhuthu and Abhishek Bachchan in Guru – None of them share a great relationship with their fathers. The relationship between Arjun (Arvind Samy) & his father in Thalapathy is alone not strained.
In Agni Natchatiram, it’s only in the end that the sons make up with their father. In Bombay, it is only the father who finally comes to meet his son. In Alaipayuthey and Dumm Dumm Dumm, the sons don’t reconcile with their fathers at all. From the beginning, the relationship between Siddharth and his father in Aayitha Ezhuthu is not as bad as the above-mentioned ones and hence, theirs seems to be the one father-son relationship that really ends on a good note. In Guru, the father, though seems to do it half-heartedly, goes ahead and blesses his son despite his not being in favour of his son starting his own business. There is no mention of him in the movie after that.
Coming to the relationship between the heroes and their sons, the relationship between Raghuvaran and his son and daughters in Anjali is, of course, wonderful. In Nayagan, relationship between Kamal and his son, right from the time his son is a kid till his son’ death, is again pretty good and a moving one to watch. Relationship between Madhavan and his sons, though not given much importance in Kannathil Muthamittal, and the only scene in which he is directly interacting with his sons has him slapping one of his sons, still seems to be ok.
Still, on pondering about the father-son relationships, I wonder why in majority of Mani Ratnam’s movies, either the heroes’ fathers are no more or if their fathers are alive, they don’t share that great a relationship with them. Waiting to see if and how a father-son relationship is going to be portrayed in his next movie!