Death (Whenever it will occur)
Love is just a four letter word. But if you are Mani Ratnam and it is his take on that emotion, then even life and death revolving around it can be a memorable and overwhelming experience. Death is inevitable and no one can stop it, but to enjoy the real beauty of life you need to embrace love along. There is a moment in Geethanjali where the main character snuggles like a small kid in the lap of the male protagonist. This scene defines the beauty of warmth and touch between two people uncertain about their destiny and life.
Mani Ratnam’s take on the 3 important elements of a human existence which is Life, Love and Death is as fascinating as it can get between 2 people. These aspects can be intertwined between all existing relationships of a living being, but holds more value and beauty when illustrated between a man and woman.
The 8th directorial venture and the only Telugu film attempted by him till now, Mani Sir took cues from the diary of a Delhi based 11 year old girl who was suffering from terminal cancer. Naming the film and the female lead character after her, Geethanjali had written her thoughts and emotions, which moved Mani Sir to film it on celluloid.
Released few months before Ram Gopal Varma’s Shiva, Nagarjuna played the lead role of Prakash who is a blithe and playful youth. Getting seriously injured in a road accident during the celebrations of completing his graduations, he gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and few months to survive. Taking off to Ooty for few weeks, he encounters Geethanjali (Girija), a girl full of zest for life who is notorious for pulling pranks on people around her. It is in such a situation while reiterating the joke back on her, that Prakash comes to know off the fact that even Geethanjali is living her last few days. Her attitude and vivacity rubs on Prakash who takes to life in a different meaning and how they survive such a compound situation forms the rest of this movie.
Though the film does not break any new grounds in its story but the crackling romantic moments are one of the best I have seen in Indian cinema. The playfulness during their liking for each other or the single take song “Om Namaha” where they kiss, touch and feel each other, sans any sexual insinuation shows how Mani Sir knows his job. Without doubt this is one of the most romantic songs in the history of Indian cinema.
The only blemish and a big one at that being a forced comedy track involving Disco Shanti which is no way connected to the main theme of the film. Have heard that there is a cut which is devoid of this track, but never got hold or have been in a position to view it.
Shot through the lens of P C Sriram, Ooty has never looked as beautiful as evidenced here. Most of the scenes were shot with a mist around, giving the romance a more dreamy and poetic effect. It is no wonder that the movie was filmed in an early morning slot and the outcome is just terrific.
Illaiya Raja delivers the perfect soundtrack with all songs still unforgettable even in this day and time. Though Anand Milind who used to make their living has re-used most of the tracks in various Hindi films, the original songs here are melodious and soulful with great vocals by S P Balasubramanium, K S Chitra and S Janaki. The songs have been shot with great aplomb like ‘’Jagada Jagada’’ and show the mastery of Mani Sir in this medium. Even the background score is outstanding especially the ‘’Oh Priya Priya’’ hymns.
Nagarjuna underplays his role pretty well and keeps a distinct gloomy look which shows his state of mind. But it is newcomer Girija Shettar who brings a lot of exuberance to the proceedings with her free spirited soul. Her jovial nature is completely believable without getting too preachy in such a film. Unfortunately apart from Priyadarshan’s Vandanam and a small cameo in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander where she was supposed to play Aamir Khan’s love interest and got later replaced by Ayesha Jhulka, there is no filmography to boast about. Vijayakumar and Radhabai as Girija’s father and grandmother and even Sumitra as Nagarjuna’s mother provide adequate support.
Dubbed in Tamil as Idhayathai Thirudathey, Geethanjali was a National Award Winner as Best film for providing wholesome entertainment. Further strengthening the position and image of Mani Sir as India’s whiz kid, Geethanjali is a landmark film and will always be remembered as one of the better movies to come out of the stable of Telugu film industry.
Life(As much you can live and enjoy)
PS: This movie was remade in Hindi as Yaad Rakhegi Duniya starring Aditya Panscholi & Rukhsar and gives one more evidence of Mani Ratnam’s popularity among filmgoers, as eventually every film after Mouna Ragam has either been dubbed or adapted for National audiences.
Read more reviews on MANI RATNAM BLOGATHON:
1. Pallavi Anupallavi (Kannada) 2. Unaroo (Malayalam) 3. Pagal Nilavu (Tamil) 4. Idaya 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)