This category has been screaming for my attention for a very long time now and I am back with a post along with a note to myself to keep this category alive by updating it with more posts regularly.
Thalapathy is supposedly the story of the man fondly called by his friend as his Thalapathy. But, is it just the story of that man alone? This is yet another movie in which Mani Ratnam portrays the emotions felt by each and every character so beautifully! As far as Mani Ratnam’s movies are concerned, even if the movie itself does not have a great script (of course, this is not the case with this movie), most of the characters nevertheless, stand out and so do a lot of scenes.
Before I start focusing on the characters in this movie, let me write about the one thing that I can’t stand in this movie – the violence, the brutal murders. How can a man burn another man alive?! Is it necessary to show so much violence? Aren’t there other ways of bringing out the violent nature of the characters? I hate watching a man being beaten or tortured ruthlessly till he eventually dies. Anyway, this is what seems to be happening in the world today and the characters in the movie represent that part of the society where murdering someone isn’t considered a big deal at all. Hmmm.
Here’s first a look at some of the characters in the movie:
Surya is a man who has no clue about his origin. He doesn’t hesitate to beat/kill anyone for a good cause. Once he gets the first ever friend, he is willing to even give his life for his friend. He falls in love with a girl and before he gets to experience the first real relationship in his life in the form of his lover, circumstances separates them. On his friend’s insistence, he marries the very lady whose husband he had killed. He does not try to justify to his wife, what he had done. Instead he repents. He showers affection on Tamizhazhagi and becomes something like a good friend to her. 🙂
He experiences new, never-before-felt emotions and feelings when he comes to know who his mother is and that he has a half-brother (Arjun). He is now a man caught between friendship and love for his mother and brother. Should he go ahead and kill Arjun for the sake of his friend’s happiness or should he let Arjun arrest Deva and see Deva suffer? Deva or Arjun? Rather, Deva or his mother?
Deva is a man whose life undergoes a transformation when he gets the first-ever true friend in his life in the form of Surya. He is confident that his Surya will do anything for him. Thanks to his friendship with Surya, he experiences what it feels like to be liked and respected by the people. When he does not succeed in uniting Surya with his lover, he blames himself for the way things turned out to be and feels sad for his friend. Deva feels happy when he gets Surya married to Padma. Things go smoothly between the two friends only for sometime after Subbulakshmi’s marriage to the collector, Arjun. Could Surya place his ex-lover’s happiness above his friend, Deva’s? This is the thought that gets Deva worried.
Kalyani is a mother who early in her life, had been forced by circumstances to give birth to a child and abandon it on a train. She never fails to worry about how and where her elder son might be. On knowing who her elder son is, she rushes to meet him with joy only to end up worried about what the future holds, when she realizes the extent of hatred and enmity between both her sons. Should she tell Arjun that Surya is his brother? Did she get re-united to her elder son only to lose him once again now?
Kalyani’s husband (Jaishankar)
Male characters in Mani Ratnam’s movies can only be as understanding as Kalyani’s husband. How else can you explain the man’s reactions when he comforts his wife every time she worries about her long lost son or when he comes to know that his wife’s son is a murderer and still, doesn’t let him be caught by the police and later tells the son that he would not want his wife to know that she has a son who is in a state like this now.
Padma is a widow who, forced by circumstances, marries her husband’s murderer for the sake of her daughter and her own protection. She gets to know more about her new husband through her little daughter’s conversations with him and realizes that he isn’t that bad a man after all. Once she comes to know who her husband’s mother is, she succeeds in uniting him with his mother.
Subbulakshmi, a girl caught between respect for her father’s words and her love for Surya, eventually marries the boy of her father’s choice. She is a simple, sweet girl like some of the female characters in other Mani Ratnam’s movies like Roja or Nayagan.
Once all the secrets about Surya and his mother are revealed to everybody in the movie, Mani Ratnam as usual doesn’t use unnecessary dialogues and instead brings out how much friendship means to the lead character with just these few words, ‘Yaenna nee en naNban’, summing up everything! But after that I feel the movie becomes too melodramatic. Deva telling Surya that Surya’s mother is like his own mother etc. and rushing in to surrender letting his emotions rule him, Arjun repenting the fact that he was fighting against his own brother forgetting everything that his brother is doing, all these make it a bit too sentimental. These scenes make you wonder how selfish people are. They don’t want to see their kith and kin suffer but, when they kill someone else, they forget that the victim too has kith and kin. In the climax when Arjun tells Surya that there are no cases against Surya, this point is highlighted even more. But, considering the way Kalivardhan (Amrish Puri) ensured that Deva was destroyed at all costs, would you say he deserved to be killed by Surya? After all, muLLa muLLaaladhaan edukka mudiyum and that justifies the violent crimes committed by Deva and Surya?
A scene that I like very much in this movie is the one when Surya, Kalyani and her husband are at the temple. On hearing the sound of a train horn, the three of them turn towards it. You see a mother’s longing for her long-lost son and a son’s longing for his unknown mother etched on the faces of Rajni and Srividya. Though Jaishankar remains a mute spectator to this, his face shows his understanding of how Surya and Kalyani must be feeling at that time since he knows that Surya is Kalyani’s son.
One more scene is when Padma goes to meet Kalyani. The look on Banupriya’s face each time Srividya goes near the yellow cloth shows the anxiousness that the character Padma must be feeling at that time.
Was it because of the fact that Thalapathy is a rehash of Mahabharata where Surya is an important character, that not only the lead character of the movie representing Surya’s son (Karna) is named so but, the sun itself is shown in quite a lot of scenes? 🙂
When Surya promises to his mother’s husband that he won’t tell her that he is her son, the sun is shown prominently. A wonderful shot! Was the Sun acting as the witness there? 😉
One more scene which shows the early morning sky during sunrise so beautifully is Subbulakshmi/Shobana’s introduction scene. River bank, Bharatanatyam, Carnatic Music, Sunrise. Superb!
Again in the scene where Subbulakshmi sings Yamunai aatrile at the bank of the river, you see the sun. Even on the scene when Rajni, Srividya and Jaishankar are at the temple, the sun’s rays peek into the temple.
Moving on to the songs of Thalapathy, my favourite songs are Rakkama, Yamunai aatrile and Kaattu kuyilu (has good lyrics too). Though I do like Sundari, the song is too lengthy and the picturization is boring especially the scenes where Rajni is shown fighting in a war.
Though this movie won’t feature in my Top 5 favourites of Mani Ratnam’s movies, the powerful characterization and some scenes makes it one of the memorable movies by Mani Ratnam. 🙂