Monday, February 20, 2006

Political movies; Illayaraja and Rehman

Very few political movies get made in Tamil. Only Manirathnam's Iruvar ( on MGR and his relationship with M Karunanidhi) comes to mind immediately. Even though most actors turn to politics at one time or other - Karthik and Sarath Kumar are again in the news this election year - the film industry hardly takes a serious view at politics. But there are a thousand stories to be told. The rise of J Jayalithaa in politics must be a fascinating story. A story on the death of the Congress and the rise of the DK must be another story waiting to be told. Even the ones that do get made are harldly critical of their subjects - a movie on Kamaraj, in recent years - and lack a modern story telling style.
MK recently wrote the story for a movie - Pasakkili - on two socially aware men saving their town and sister from the baddies. MK took a break from politics, stayed in some resort for a few days and came up with this absolute crap. A poster shows the two men - Murali and Prabhu - looking defiant in chains and the sister begging a baddie with a gun for god knows what. It's in this absurd scenario, that Hazaron.... gets made and is seen and appreciated. Like Zinda, Hazaron is a movie with a superb soundtrack, some solid acting by KK, and a well crafted script. A trifle long yet highly stimulating movie.
Recently, my friend Eka Lavya has written that Rehman started out in 1993. That seems wrong to me. Roja was made either in 1991 or 1992. Not sure which year, but 93 is a little too late. And there seems to be a marked difference to the kind of songs he made and the songs in Zinda and Hazaron. Besides, Rehman has harldy made a dent on Illayaraja territory, Tamil folk music. Rehman did score for movies of this sort - Kizhakku Cheemaiyile with Bharathiraja and Sangamam - but they are really no match for Illayaraja's prolific contribution to Tamil cinema. In Tamil Nadu, Rehman is seen a hi-tech, electronic music making wizard, who lacks soul to his music. Not true, in my opinion. In addition to using a lot of orginal instrumental music - e.g Duet for with Kadri Gopalnath work with AR - Rehman has indeed composed some of most soulful tunes even done in Tamil.
But Illayaraja is not dead yet. There is a good song in a movie as recent as Mumbai Express.