Iruvar; A Schindler's List ?

Watching the Steven Spielberg‘s extended interview in The Directors DVD set me thinking wildly. While talking about Schindler’s List, Spielberg says, When my kids ask me “What did you do dad ?”, I didn’t want show them the big gothic movies which I made. I wanted to show them something that truly happened. Something that happened to our people.

When Iruvar released, this is what I remember Mani Ratnam stating for an interview. Iruvar was a film for the next generation to come. For them to look back at the history of their Tamil Nadu and have an unbiased view of it. He went on to say that when entered the movie making business, he had in mind the kind of movies he enjoyed making. Unfortunately due to commercial pressures, the lanes departed and he was soon making run-of-the-mill movies, according to himself. Iruvar was comeback to his path, style and love of movie making.

Though I am just quoting what I remember from the interviews, these are not exact statements that they had shared in the interview. If you look deep into these lines, they sound similar by idea. Both movies are the best of each of them. Schindler’s List touched millions of people with it’s moving images of holocaust. Iruvar didn’t do a similar thing but it talked about how the political history in the state shaped up in an unbiased manner.

For me they are strikingly same. If Spielberg was talking about his Jewish history, a born Tamilian like Mani Ratnam can only talk about the making of Tamil Nadu. He probably could have talked about Indian Independence you might think. But a movie maker should probably be making what he can relate to the most than what others want him to. Mani Ratnam did exactly the same. With the available resource, technology, cast and crew Iruvar was an exemplary movie of Kollywood. Something that only movies like Uthiri Pookal, Mundraam Pirai or Nayakan can come close to. Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was arguably his best movie till date. Not because it was shot in B&W and it gave a sense of a classic film. It’s because he was able to tie down 25 of us watching the movie in a lonely Sathyam theatre. Twenty days after Iruvar released, there were hardly 20 people in the ultra-cold Woodlands Theatre. And I was there watching the classic with 10 other friends who slept half the way through. Classics don’t show up as classics the first time around. A pity.

32 thoughts on “Iruvar; A Schindler's List ?

  1. u r right. Good movies attracts less crowds but there are exceptions. Iruvar is on of the mile stones of Mani’s career and of Tamil films as well.

    In Indian, Kamal haasan says to Manisha that we will go to a movie called Schindler’s list where no one else will be there in theatre :), so that we can hav our privacy. Kamal sir, idhu dhaan, vazhai pazhathil oosi ya.

  2. I saw this movie in Udhayam theatre. Arumayana padam. Especially the interactions between mohanlal and prakashraj. Thanks for reminding me Lazy. This movie is a must for personal collection!

  3. Agreeably both movies are ment to help ‘mature’ a generation of movie goers, or youths, who are continuly ignoring the facts of life, culture and also the sacrifice of the older generation.

    What SL managed to do was potray the believes and struggles of millions of jews that for a fact was a real event. Real event that needed to be retold to remind the younger generation.

    What Iruvar succeeded is in potraying the art and essence of Tamil culture and relationship. Relationship between friends, and trust, and the power of legends on the masses. It showed the classic example of Tamil Naadu politics while at the same time set standards on what movies should be.

    In truth, both are great movies, that should be watched, lets say as a visual text book of what the world have been and what the world should not bet in the case of the holocaust, and what the world should admire in case of Iruvar.

    Every generation should have a movie to look at and say thats the best of the generation. There ere many in the past century. There are many more other than SL and Iruvar. But certainly Iruvar is the closest the Tamil World could get into achieving a place in that short list.

    -Gp

  4. yea..this movie will have the “best” tag for many more things , apart from being Manis best film till date…it had Rahman giving the Best BGM score he had given till date… and ppl say it was Mohanlals best performance till date..and so was prakashraj’s acting…a landmark movie…

    hope Mani returns making such wonderful movies..

  5. Iruvar was definitely unbiased but wasn’t bold enough to convey the darker areas of TN politics like corruption and mafia. I think for a creator like Mani Iruvar is an easy knit. I think Ratnam’s best were Mouna Ragam – a flawless movie, and Nayakan – despite its Godfather/Varadharaja Mudaliyar influences, he brought out the best of Kamal. I still rejoice the scene where Kamal and Janakaraj meet a bunch of Business tycoons. There were no pseudo machismos yet Velubhai reflected power, confidence and aggression. Hats off to Maniratnam.

  6. Iruvar is one Gem of a movie. There are more and more things we will admire everytime we see it.

    A man realizing his power or value. Mohanlal’s hand in action… his trembling hands showing fear, then would wave back at the crowd. (Lazy, you should have felt it when Sujatha commented back). Now the hand doesnt know fear. It accepts recognition. I like Iruvar Inch by Inch.

    Maniratnam is terrific, because he shows normal.

  7. True. Iruvar was one class movie. I think maniratham brings the best out of real life stories/issues, especially Nayagan (underworld don), Bombay (communal riots), Dil se( extremist).

    Hope Kamal & Mani come together & make a directors cut and actors cut on Nayakan.

    I remember seeing Iruvar with less that 30 people with friends. First time was normal, but felt the passion of the director & the talent when I watched it second time. After that I have been watching it again & again.

  8. True. Iruvar was one class movie. I think maniratham brings the best out of real life stories/issues, especially Nayagan (underworld don), Bombay (communal riots), Dil se( extremist).

    Hope Kamal & Mani come together & make a directors cut and actors cut on Nayakan.

    I remember seeing Iruvar with less that 30 people with friends. First time was normal, but felt the passion of the director & the talent when I watched it second time. After that I have been watching it again & again.

  9. True. Iruvar was one class movie. I think maniratham brings the best out of real life stories/issues, especially Nayagan (underworld don), Bombay (communal riots), Dil se( extremist).

    Hope Kamal & Mani come together & make a directors cut and actors cut on Nayakan.

    I remember seeing Iruvar with less that 30 people with friends. First time was normal, but felt the passion of the director & the talent when I watched it second time. After that I have been watching it again & again.

  10. I was just wondering a day ago that why LG hasn’t blogged anything about Iruvar(may be you hv, but I havent read), the classic. Its one of the best from Maniratnam. Also for the first time liked Rahman’ BGM(still those beats are lingering). Personally I feel Prakshraj scored 10 runs more than Mohanlal.

  11. I feel that AR Rahman composes his best music for Iruvar. “Narumugaye”, “Hello Mr.Ethirkatchi” are my favourites.

  12. All songs terrific. “Kannai Katti Kollathe” my fave.

    But, Prabhu , I felt Mohanlal’s performance was Stupendous. Every Face reaction of Mohanlal, gave the essence of every scene. Especially, when Mohanlal gives a tear in the edfe of his eyes, when he sees his mom, watching his son Standing as just another Police Constable in front of a camera. Wow !

  13. heh. good comment Reflex. I remember that dialogue in Indian, Kamal goes there is a really good movie called Schindler’s List that is running, no one will be there to watch it, so we can have our privacy. Sujatha’s kindal dialogue.

  14. Iruvar- the presentation was good, but like someone else pointed out, it was an easy knit for Mani. He already had the story set, didnt dwell too much into gray areas of politics and only incorporated those scenes that had a high dramatic value on screen. So we’ll often see ANNa or MGR talking to huge crowds with Rahman’s percussion playing rudhrathaandavam – indicating anger,frustration etc. and the camera hovering around in the back of the podium.

    Also, Ash’s character beyond a certain point mainly served as a distraction from the main political issues. And the flashback to the other Ash to justify current infatuation and all was a little too much. And when things had to be brought back into focus Mani conveniently ends her role in an accident. There were also one too many songs during that short 30 minute period.

    Rahman’s BGM was a big plus and much needed for the film’s success I would say. But Mani wasnt bold enough to admit that the film was based on MGR-MK till the end, fearing political controversy maybe.

  15. Sometimes the audience frustrate the classics. I dont get why they cannot appreciate movies like this or a ‘Anbe Sivam’ or a ‘Gunaa’ or a ‘Kannathil Muthamitaal’.. But when the same ‘Gunaa’ remade into ‘Kadhal Konden’ with certain extras becomes a big hit. Come on people give the real ones a break.
    But what more can we expect from the people who make the movies like Thirumalai, Thirupachi and other stupid movies into superhits.. SIGH!!

  16. prabz, what u said is abs true…reg. movies like Kadhal Konden succeeding (where Guna failed), the directors/producers will proudly claim, “youth-a kavarra madhiri mayter irunchu!” a nice way of saying, “we threw in some glamor, sex and violence!”

  17. A question related to Iruvar. Does JJ resemble MGR’s first wife in real life? Or was that just made up for the movie? I’ve always wondered…

  18. i am not a tamilian but being a mani ratnam fan, have read a lot about Iruvar just got a copy (finally!!!!) of the dvd. if everyone agrees that it is a classic, and even when it released, it got great reviews, why did the movie flop?? were the reasons political?

  19. Iruvar, I agree was one of the great movies that didnt get enough attention.

    I wish the move was made more elaborate, It could have been bit lengthy or made in 2 parts perhaps.

    I remember feeling ‘That is all…..?!!!’ when the movie ended.

    Also the director seemed forced to ‘touch all aspects’ and go deep into none. Like a package tour operator. Which left the intelligent movie watcher in a weird state…, Like ‘aasai kaatti mosam pannina madhiri…’ 🙂 🙂

  20. Shankar, actually, thats the beauty of it. Mani’s point is “this is what happened, and you needn’t know more”. The ending clearly shows how a deep rooted friendship goes unexpressed in the cloud of politics. And i felt it complete.

  21. Lazy, I would like to differ on Iruvar. Iruvar was no doubt a good movie, one of the best of Mani. But why it is not “Schindler’s list” is Mani lacked the conviction to give the facts straight.

    He did not do justice to the role of Aishwarya Rai, probably because he was afraid of ruffling JJ on whom it is based. He did not cover the virulent opposition to the DMK by the communists, who were probably the only ones to understand the slimy slope into which the Kazhagams were leading Tamilnadu into. He covered only the friendship between the lead characters, but not the political ascendancy of the Kazhagam and the existing political scenario of Tamilnadu then.

    If you discuss these things, he can escape saying that this is only a story, not based on any real life characters. Then this statement of yours
    For them to look back at the history of their Tamil Nadu and have an unbiased view of it.
    doesn’t hold good.

    That is why I differ and say it was a good movie, but Schindler’s List it is not.

  22. Chenthil,

    I’ve got my own piece of grudge on Mani for not having accept the truth about the identities in Iruvar. And you are right in pointing it out.

    Imaging if you were having coffee and a bomb comes flying at you. Just for a reason that you made a movie on sensitive issue. Mani probably didn’t want his personal life distruptted too much because of Iruvar. That doesn’t give him a chance to walk away without telling the name.

    Second, Schindler’s List was about something that happened 50 years back. Iruvar is still kind-of happening. And hence he didn’t want to rub it on the wrong side.

    I am not siding Mani for this. But having been angry on him for that “Ithu Unmai Kathai Alla” card on the titles of Iruvar, I settled down with these personal compromises.

  23. Chipping in late.
    Lazy,
    one Hollywood movie which I am reminded of when talking abt “Iruvar” is “Citizen Kane”. Not because both of them are landmarks in their respective regions (in fact, Iruvar is not considered a landmark here, where as, Citizen Kane is considered an outright classic by anyone and everyone). But because of the treatment.
    The way actual historic incidents and perosnalities are so overtly put into the script, but still maintaining an emotional thread all throughout the movie and not coming out like a documentary with the help of addition of a lot more things than the known historic incidents to add dimension to the characters etc.
    And the collection of, sometimes independent and even irrelevant, issues and incidents shown (because there are so many things to show, but so little time) across a vast timeline and doesnt actually dwell deep into any particular phase (touch all aspects and go deep into none as somebody else said though as a minus point; it worked greatly for me).

  24. manratnam never made again a movie like “iruvar” ,the great things happens only once in the history,it is a amazing movie ,i never come accross a directore like him with the great visual chemistry in the world cinema .

  25. manratnam never make again a movie like “iruvar” ,the great things happens only once in the history,it is a amazing movie ,i never come accross a directore like him with the greatest visual chemistry in the world cinema .

  26. maniratnam never make again a movie like “iruvar” ,the great things happens only once in the history,it is a amazing movie ,i never come accross a directore like him with the greatest visual chemistry in the world cinema .

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