Gopala Ratnam Subramanium Iyer will be a very long introduction as a name to lots of people who are still unaware about the real person. The man who thought and envisioned cinema in the early 80’s to become one of the brightest talent to look forward. The man in whose movies, relationships and emotions were depicted with great subtlety and realism. The man who made films which were way ahead and still stands the test of time, standing out for its technical finesse like cinematography, editing and also the brilliant use of music. Yes and we are talking about the one and only Mani Ratnam who changed the way movies were made in India.
Making his debut with a Kannada film Pallavi Anupallavi in 1983, Mani Ratnam an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies dared to dream different from his first film depicting the relation between a man and woman and the emotions involved between them with regards to friendship, love and attraction.
The name of the movie itself has been derived from two elements of Carnatic music where Pallavi forms the intricate and complex pattern of a musician followed by Anupallavi which is optional and the second part of any composition.
The story keeping in mind with its thematic name revolves around Vijay(Anil Kapoor), who at the behest of his father moves to Madikeri(Marcera) a hill station in Karnataka. Being committed in a relationship with Madhu(Kiran Vairale), she provides a tremendous support to take this decision while staying away, so that Vijay can embark on a journey to prove his worth of being responsible and serious. There he meets up with Anu(Lakshmi) who has been separated from her husband(Vikram) while getting caught of cheating on her, in the initial reels itself. How Vijay forms a platonic relationship against societal pressures and his own dilemma of coming to terms with his growing fondness for Anu, forms the crux of this movie in the later reels.
Apart from the deft handling of such a complex theme, what make this film even more watchable are, the sub plots and the relations defined between the prime characters like Madhu and her understanding father, the beautiful bond of a mother-son relationship between Anu and her son along with its main protagonists and their camaraderie.
To essay an attachment between a younger guy and an older woman requires tremendous guts; maintaining and balancing a fine line of trust with the audience and Mani succeeds brilliantly in keeping the sentiments underplayed. Couple of scenes deserve a special mention such as when Anu cries on the shoulders of Vijay with the villagers passing by, making him feel awkward but then understanding the need of the hour to comfort or also the climax which is not sugar coated and leaves an opportunity for debate.
I am definitely sure of this aspect that Mani Ratnam is a diehard romantic and he knows how to translate that moment on screen with magical effect. Every moment that he has explored between a man and woman deserves the highest praise for the natural ease and communication without ever getting too mushy and melodramatic.
Coming to the technical aspects, there is no one who manages the cream of talent like Mani does which is evident when even a prolific director (Sadma) like Balu Mahendra gives cinematography to his debut film. It requires tremendous conviction and faith which am sure was noticed by Balu and the trademark angles and lighting were originated here.
Forming his musical relationship with Ilaiya Raja in many future movies to come, they created some blissful soundtracks. Just listening to this elaborate musical piece will leave you with a dreamy effect.
His films always had all three aces (cinematographer, editor & music director) giving their best and he used their knowledge and potential of the medium to full effect.
The editing is by an independent B Lenin who later formed a successful partnership in future with V.T Vijayan. The movie is well within 2 hours; having a running time of close to 110 minutes which must have been unheard of in that era as movies used to clock the 3 hr mark.
Coming to the performances, all three leads do a decent job with Anil Kapoor in the early stages of his career having some truly light romantic moments with Kiran Vairale. But it is Lakshmi who looks absolutely stunning and desirable as a matured woman whom every young guy could fall for. I am a firm believer that a companionship and love between a younger guy and an elder lady has better spark and is more to cherish rather than the other way round. Women have a great respect and definition in all his films and he presents them with unfailing beauty.
Recipient of the State Award for Best Screenplay, as expected in those times Pallavi Anupallavi, was a commercial failure and was more popular for the songs, but still a lost gem. In these days where even a below average fare like Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu is heralded as new age cinema by so called critics and termed as a coming of age story, Mani Ratnam had already tread that path a good 30 years back.
A heart warming and assured debut by someone who went on to become one of India’s greatest and prolific directors, Pallavi Anupallavi deserves a trip down the memory lane and have its glory restored by film enthusiasts. I did it, will you?
Read more reviews on MANI RATNAM BLOGATHON:
1. Pallavi Anupallavi (Kannada) 2. Unaroo (Malayalam) 3. Pagal Nilavu (Tamil) 4. Idhaya Kovil (Tamil) 5. Mouna Ragam (Tamil) 6.Nayagan (Tamil) 7. Agni Natchathiram (Tamil) 8. Geethanjali (Telugu) 9. Anjali (Tamil) 10. Thalapathi (Tamil) Take 2 Thalapathi (Tamil) 11. Roja (Tamil) 12. Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil) 13. Bombay (Tamil) 14. Iruvar (Tamil) Take 2 Iruvar (Tamil) 15. Dil Se…(Hindi) Take 2 Dil Se…(Hindi) 16. Alaipayuthey (Tamil) 17. Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) Take 2 Kannathil Muthamittal(Tamil) 18. Yuva (Hindi) 19. Aayutha Ezhuthu (Tamil) 20. Guru (Hindi) 21. Raavanan(Tamil) 22. Raavan (Hindi)