Tamil cinema has witnessed many commercials under the superior direction of many legendary directors. One director who stands in terms of rendering cult classics is Mani Ratnam.
Be it Nayagan, Mouna Ragam or Thalapathi, Mani Ratnam has been a spearhead in registering some exceptional flicks which could be compared to old wine.
The best of the lot would be the 1997-released movie, Iruvar (The Duo). The movie is heavily inspired/based on the real lives of some prominent politicians of Tamil Nadu, with the lead actor's characterization, body language and the screenplay narration drawing heavy references of the said figures.
The movie showcases the bonding, unity, friendship, hatred and egoistical dispute between two friends. Prakash Raj, a screenwriter become friends with Mohanlal, a budding and a struggling actor in the 1950s era.
Both compliment and help each other to climb up the ladder where Raj becomes one of the influential writers of Tamil cinema, while Mohanlal becomes the demi god of masses. When the time is ripe for the duo to enter politics, Raj realizes that his intelligence and wisdom is being overshadowed by Mohanlal's popularity and charisma as both the public and the political party leaders' route for Mohanlal.
An irked Raj expels Mohanlal out of the party leading the latter to establish his own party and emerge victorious in the elections.
Well, the story seem to be way too familiar isn't it? Indeed yes. Prakash Raj portrays the role of the DMK founder and patriarch, M Karunanidhi, whileMohanlal dons the role of MGR, the founder of ADMK party and the demi god of Tamil people. Aishwarya Rai, who debuted in the South represents the role of ex Chief Minister J. JayaMohanlalitha.
The movie stands out high for more than a few reasons. Be it the dialogue verses, the intellectual conversation between the duo and the long composed single-shots with maximum duration, the movie is one of the best works of Tamil cinema. The styling and body language of the lead actors are just near to perfect and one could easily associate the actors to the real life characters.
Mozart of Madras, AR Rahman, the music director of the movie had composed 8 songs for the movie. Seems too much on papers, but the flow of the movie is orchestrated in such a way that the songs are never an interruption to the screenplay.
Prakash Raj was accredited for his stellar performance and fine dialogue delivery. Prakash Raj dubbed for the first time in Tamil and what better movie than Iruvar? Raj's terrific performance fetched him a National Award along with many more opportunities across various industries.
Cinematographer, Santosh Sivan, had a challenging task of completing the movie in a stipulated time frame and in a demanding condition as the technicians were not available due to the union strike. An unperturbed and the talented cinematographer went ahead with limited lighting and extracted the best output. He too was bestowed with a National Award.
Iruvar, can be seen as text book for upcoming film-makers, especially for the ones who are keener on making biopics. The movie doesn't hurt any sentiments, doesn't make objectionable or derogatory remarks, yet draw close references with the real life characters.
Watch it if you have not yet caught the epic classic.