At first look, this movie starts off as just another love story set in a village. A guy getting floored by the beauty of a girl – that’s all. Unlike Rishi (Arvind Samy) and Roja’s (Madhubala) in Roja or Karthik (Madhavan) and Shakti’s (Shalini) in Alaipayuthey or Manohar (Karthik) and Divya’s (Revathy) in Mouna Raagam or for that matter, even Gautam (Prabhu) and Anjali’s (Amala) in Agni Nakshatram, which are love stories where their initial courting scenes to the scene where they express their love for each other itself are some unforgettable scenes, with the dialogues making them all the more memorable, this movie doesn’t have any of those. Except for the scene where Shekhar (Arvind Samy) gets into the same boat as Shaila Bhanu’s (Manisha) and tells her of his love, there are practically no dialogues between the two of them. But that’s where the song, ‘Uyire’ comes in – there couldn’t have better words than the lyrics of the song to express their love for each other.
But why complain about no or few dialogues between the lovers when there is beautiful music by A.R.Rahman accompanying the scenes throughout? 🙂 Arvind Samy moving to look down at the sound of Manisha’s voice and Manisha taking a hesitant step towards the stairs and their eyes meeting each other with pa sa ni sa ni sa in the background. Wow! The pa sa ni sa ni sa has always been one of my all-time favourite BGMs by Rahman!
Anyway so, what makes this love story an interesting one then? It’s their religions. Little can you guess in the beginning that an inter-religion love story set in a village in Tamil Nadu is going to be intertwined into the riots in Bombay!
To depict the theme that he had taken up and to address the issue that the movie dealt with, I am sure Mani Ratnam couldn’t have chosen better characters – a guy and a girl belonging to different religions from a village where inter-religion marriages are frowned upon and whose parents are very much attached to their religions too.
Yet, this is one of those rare Mani Ratnam’s movies in which I am not a big fan of the lead characters. The way Shekhar talks so harshly to his father saying he can’t wait till his death to marry his lover and all that stuff don’t go down well with me. I would have preferred to watch something like what happens in Alaipayuthey, where Karthik just walks out of his house without any hurting conversations with his parents (who are already hurt enough?).
Coming to the scenes after Shaila Bhanu reaches Bombay, I like the one where she waits in the railway station for Shekhar all the while getting a bit anxious, and he finally appears behind her and simply tells her that they are going to get married now. The song in the background (Marathi folk-ish tune?) after they get married is a nice one.[audio:http://www.mediamax.com/music_music_fan/Hosted/Film_Background_Music_-_Bombay_Bombay_Marriage.mp3]
Even though you see a set of scenes portraying how happy they both are, the scenes which Mani Ratnam is a master craftsman in creating, especially the ones with all the kids, still you sense the insecurities felt by Shaila Bhanu. This is evident when her husband doesn’t tell her full name to the house owner and the house owners’ reaction when they realize that she is a Muslim, again when she does not feel comfortable to walk on the road while a Hindu procession is going on and later when she reads the letter that her father-in-law had written to her husband.
Even as the couple is shown to be leading happy lives after their marriage, back in the village, their marriage causes an enmity between their families that threatens to cause a clash between the people of the two religions in their village. Though it is stopped by Shekhar’s father even before it starts, you are made to realize that all it takes to start a riot is just a family feud.
And then, the song, poovukkenna poottu – I love watching especially, the last part of this song! 🙂 From just-born babies bundled up in their parents’ arms to babies walking on top of their father’s back (!) to little kids playing happily with their parents near the sea – the red, blue, green and pink coloured costumes of all four of them is a riot of colours (hinting how happy and colourful their life is currently? 🙂 ) –, the introduction of Kamal Basheer and Kabir Narayan (brilliant selection of names, isn’t it?) couldn’t have been more beautiful! 🙂
Even as the story moves forward by six years in a single song, the scene when Shekhar, with an obvious discomfort on his face, goes out of his house and talks with a group of Hindus who have come for collecting money and the expression on Shaila Bhanu’s face at that point of time, shows that the years in between had done nothing to melt away their religious differences.
And then, the first glimpse of the riots – the confused twins saying, ‘main Hindu’, ‘main Muslim’ when asked which religion they belong to, the shock experienced by their parents when they see their children ready to be burnt alive, later, one of the twins waking up from his sleep because of a nightmare – a poignant portrayal of how much innocent people suffer in the wake of such riots.
Prakash Raj, though appears only a for a few minutes, brings out the polices’ perspective of the riots and it is in this scene that you see Shekhar torn between his duty as a reporter to confront the police and his gratefulness as a father to thank the police for helping him get back his children alive. And he does manage to do both successfully.
The scene where Manisha’s parents come to her house and Nasser, on seeing them, dresses up the kids like Hindus and brings them to meet their grandparents is one that is sure to bring a smile on everyone’s face. 🙂 The violin BGM makes this scene all the more enjoyable. The same man who playfully keeps fighting with his son’s father-in-law and feels so strongly about his religion and is hell-bent on making his grandchildren follow his religion, forgets everything when his life is saved by the same man with whom he is fighting everyday and even loses his life itself while trying to save the Quran from getting burnt. Isn’t Narayana Pillai’s (Nasser), the only character that is portrayed in-depth in this movie?
The parents’ search for their lost children, the emotional trauma that they suffer when they go searching for their kids in hospitals, so many children lying injured and on the verge of death in the hospitals, people brutally killing each other in the name of religion – these are scenes that makes your heart go out for innocent victims of the riots.
The song, idhu annai bhoomi/rukh jao, comes at the right point in the movie when the only hope in the minds of the victims is that the riots come to an end soon.[audio:http://www.mediamax.com/music_music_fan/Hosted/Idhu%20Annai%20Bhoomi.mp3]
I love watching the scene where the twins get reunited. I have heard that Mani Ratnam used only one of the twins for some scenes since the other one couldn’t act/emote so well. Was this one of those scenes? The way the expression on the kid’s face changes from crying to a smile of overwhelming happiness on seeing his brother conveys the emotions that the child undergoes so beautifully. A scene where you need no words!
Though the riot is shown to come to an end so easily in an unrealistic way in the movie, the dialogues do make you thoughtful and wish that some day people do understand that what they are doing is stupidity and they have no right to take away innocent lives….
Though the climax gives the movie a fairy-tale ending, since in reality the family might not have got reunited so easily, still I love watching it. I like happy endings. Arvind Samy seeing his kids first, then turning Manisha’s face to make her see them, her reaction on seeing them (sad, tear-drenched face to an expression of joy clearly evident on her face), then, how the kids see them and they all run towards each other makes you feel the joy that is shared by the family.
Then, in the climax, a young girl with a smile on her face joins the human chain. The smile on the girl’s face looks so lovely.
No words will be enough to describe what a great song ‘malarODu malaringu’ is! The lyrics wouldn’t have got better music and there couldn’t have been better words to match the mood created by the music!
malaroadu malar ingu magizhndhaadum boadhu
manadhoadu manam inRu pagaikoLvadheno
madham ennum madham oayattam
desam malar meedhu thuyil koLLattum
There couldn’t have been a better song to end this movie! And here I am ending this post, with hopes that one day madham ennum madham ends and peace reigns in this world!
P.S.: This is my 300th blog post. Can there be a better choice than one of my favourite Mani Ratnam’s movies, a movie with brilliant cinematography by Rajeev Menon and superb music by A.R.Rahman, for my 300th post? 😉