Favorite Tamil Love Stories - I
No surprises here! Whether in a film about religious strife, terrorism or a girl in search of her identity, Manirathnam's romances have always been a class apart. While he has expressed his mastery over portraying all emotions, I think he is at his directorial best when portraying romance. So when he does a full-length love story, there is no surprise that it ends up being one of the best in the genre.
We're all familiar with romances where one of the lovers is stricken with a fatal illness. But Mani gives the familiar tale a remarkable twist by giving both his leads incurable illnesses. In the midst of such tragedy, he fashions a love story that is both incredibly cute and touchingly emotional.
The tricks Nagarjun and Girija play on each other are very cute and vintage Manirathnam. Their playfulness is quite familiar to us from Mouna Raagam and Agni Natchathiram but their antics are fully enjoyable. Once we know that Girija's days are numbered too(the intermission shot, where Girija strikes a mock dead pose, is one of the numerous unforgettable images in the film), the difference in the pair's attitudes towards life is brought to the fore. Their romance gains an urgency and their scenes have a new maturity as they are two people who know what's coming. And while most directors try to wring the tears out of us given a chance, Mani finishes with an open-ended climax that works better than any other climax could have.
Manirathnam has always extracted the best from his music directors but I think Ilaiyaraja's contribution was the most invaluable in Idhayathai Thirudaathey. From the opening credits, the background score is an almost physical entity in most scenes and its impossible to imagine any scene in the film without its music. P.C.Sriram ensured that every scene was poetry on celluloid and watching the film was like seeing a series of paintings created right before our eyes. Girija was phenomenal and the combination of playfulness, practicality and pathos was irresistable.
Idhayathai Thirudaathey steals my heart every time I see it (and for the record, it is the film I have seen the most number of times!)