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Iruvar (Iddaru) February 12, 2007

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.

Superbly crafted. Director Mani Ratnam throws all conventions to the wind with this film (that he co-wrote with his wife and actress, Suhasini), alienating most conventional viewers in the bargain. But it totally worked for me. I remember the time when this film released. Everybody said that Mani had totally lost it. Later I watched parts of this film on television and everytime I saw it, I was intrigued. Though I never really understood a lot of stuff then, my Dad helped me connect the incidents on film to the real ones. I finally got to watch this completely and despite my limited knowledge about the history of Tamil cinema and politics and those two stalwarts (MGR and Karunanidhi), I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do wish to know more before watching this the next time because I would like to figure out what is fact and fiction in this semi-biopic and understand Mani’s vision better.

Superlative performances from the two lead actors, Mohanlal (playing the character based on MGR) and Prakash Raj (playing the character based on Karunanidhi), bring this film alive. The film features a lot of actresses as well: Revathi, Gautami, Tabu and Aishwarya Rai in a double role in her first film (and a special appearance by Madhoo). Though Revathi and Tabu get small parts, they shine in every frame. Gautami is equally good. Mani manages to extract a good performance from Aishwarya in her role as Pushpa while her performance as Kalpana is a bit uneven. Compare this to the pedestrian performance in a simple role in her Bollywood debut (Rahul Rawail’s Aur Pyar Ho Gaya) and you will see how much difference Mani has made. I specially loved how ordinary (deglamourised if you prefer) Mani managed to make her look for the role of Pushpa. Nasser also comes up with a commendable performance in a supporting role (playing the character based on Annadurai).

Rahman’s score is brilliant once again (my favorite is the Asha Bhonsle number Vennela Vennela/Vennila Vennila). However the bombing of this film meant that these songs didn’t gain as much popularity. Most songs are short in the movie and these fit in quite well, considering the relation to films. However the long ones do distract you. Among the other technicians, the work of Santosh Sivan (cinematography) and Samir Chanda (Art Direction) is first-rate.

Many might ask a lot of “why?” questions when they watch this film because Mani leaves a lot of things unsaid. Though I did have many such moments I knew that I wouldn’t be able to figure them out without the background knowledge. Compared to this Mani’s recent Guru is better suited (and aimed) to be a reasonably comprehensible crowd pleaser for the intelligentsia. If you loved Guru or if you enjoy biopics, you might want to check this one out (and make sure you get some information about MGR and Karunanidhi before you do).


1. Shujath - February 12, 2007

If I had to pick a movie which made me really impatient before its release then it has to be Iddaru. Simply because at that point of time I was totally blown away by the trailer – short collages of all the actors set to the bit music of the song Ayirathil Naan Oruvan (don’t remember the telugu lyrics).

But then when the movie started in the theatre I was shocked. The biggest question lingering in my mind all through the movie was – Is this really a Mani Ratnam film? If yes, then why isn’t not even shot in cinemascope….the old 35 MM format was practically non-existent in 1997. Even low budget B-grade movies were shot in cinemascope. It was much later when I was told that it was a period biopic that I comprehended that Mani might have shot it that way to make it look authentic.

Coming back to the movie, what followed was equally incomprehensible and it was only in the interval that my father explained to me the whole thing after seeing the bewildered look on my face (This probably looks like a common experience for normal kids who’ve seen this movie at our age :)). Still, after all the explanations at the end I could not figure it all out. But nevertheless, it left an everlasting impact and I’ve been waiting to watch it again since a long time but haven’t got a chance yet.

Generally, sitting through an incomprehensible film can be a painful experience but Mani, Rahman and the ensemble cast do make this a must watch whether or not you understand everything in the end.

2. madhu - November 22, 2007

recently i’ve watched iddaru in vcd.before that if any body ask which is my favourite film among maniratnam films i’m unable to answer,but now after seeing can say with out any hesitation my favourite from his films is iddaru….it talks about idealogy of two people……also it describes at it best about unique bonding between cinema & politics in tamilnadu…..

3. tony - January 6, 2010

Grate film in all means…Excellent technical perfection and acting..

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