Romance is always a rejoicing, reverberating and rejuvenating concept for the creative mind.What one perceives as the right core of romance and how one tries to interpret it,constitute the artistic and aesthetic fundamentals of creativity.As a result,romance in Tamil Cinema, has travelled through a galaxy of lanes with characters and events catching up the imagination of the creator, for a refreshing presentation of its complex layers, accumulated through the passage of time and perspectives of each generation.Eminent directors like Sridhar,Balachander,Balu Mahendra Bharathiraja and Manirathnam have relaid the lanes with their concrete stuff of imagination and reality. Idealistic Sridhar,innovative Balachander,uncoventional Balu Mahendra poetic Bharathiraja and traditionally modern Manirathnam have walked through the lanes of romance, stamping their remarkable footprints for a line of followers, of their respective footprints.This article would like to see the depth and volume of Manirathnam's footprints,in this regard.
Manirathnam is as much a specialist in romance as he is a specialist in narrating the innumerable intricacies of the gangster world, with intimate understanding and scrutiny. Manirathnam's delicate touches of the intrinsic vibrations of man and woman fondling each other, or tickling each other's emotions, have never failed to reflect an extraordinary aesthetic appeal, ever since the days of his first film Pagal Nilavu, followed by Idhayak Kovil. His earlier innings in romance were of course, a combination of ruggedness and male gusto as seen through his heroes of Pagal Nilavu [Murali}and Mouna Raagam[Karthik Muthuraman].Even his Agni Natchatram which was a family drama, celebrated certain amount of macho vigor in the character formation of one of the two heroes[again Kaarthik Muthuraman].
Whatever be the story line of a Manirathnam movie,one could not miss the robust delineation of characters undergoing the thrill and grill of the romantic journey.[Naayagan and Thalabathi could be exceptions].No one could find the romantic vigor ever sagging in the character portrayal of the heroes in Roja and Bombay[Arvind Samy playing the hero in both].Bombay was out and out a love story dipped in the cauldron of religious fundamentalism and religion related violence. But the all pervading high voltage romance was the power station of the film.There was the fire of love in the midst of the flames of terrorism in films like Roja,Uyire, Knnathil Muthamittaal and Raavanan.[the last one was a passionate and powerful course of romance aggressively promoted by the thorniest bush, emanating the fragrance of mighty romance].
But two films that stand apart as the bullet trains of romance are Alai Payudhe and Oh Kadhal Kanmani that share a period of nearly fifteen years between each other.The two films thus belonging to two different generations, could not be compared as such.But at the same time one can not deny the fact that both the films have the train station link and the live-in relationship concept, apart from projecting the whims and vagaries of youth, governed by a craving for a sense of belonging,mutuality and the positive influence of elders, in shaping the aspirations of youth.
On watching O.K.Kanmani,one who had seen Alai Paayudhe, can not be faulted for making comparisons between the two, because the young lovers Adhi and Tara of OKK, seem to be a replica of Karthik and Shakthi of Alai Payudhe.The narration of the lovers' routine,the emotional exchanges between the lovers in OKK, keep on tapping at the doors of Alai Paudhe for a revisit.The predominantly different part of narration is the more exhaustive focus on the lovers in OKK because Alaipaudhe had a lot of other events such as the misunderstanding between another couple,calling for the intervention of the hero,the hurdles thrown on the track of Karthik and Sakthi in getting married and the accident in the climax sending Sakthi into a state of coma and so on.But in OKK,excepting Prakash raj and his wife, the audience have nothing to watch other than the pranks, buoyancy and bickering of the lovers.
Alai Payudhe will live longer in memory, not only because of its eventful narration but also because of the richly enchanting music of the same A.R.Rahaman who has composed music for OKK too.The mighty numbers like''Snegidhane,snegidhane Ragasiya Snegidhane''''Pachai Nirame Pachai Nirame'' and ''September Maadham'' will continue to perpetuate the memory of Alai Payudhe. Moreover, without any prejudice to Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen,it should be said here that Madhavan and Shalini got into out heart and soul, as young lovers and still stay there, as eternal treasures of a solid romantic experience. All said and done, Manirathnam deserves a special applause, for not liquidating the traditional base of our culture and cherished values.The fact that the director is ever conscious of the supremacy of the roots of love in creating a bonding pattern and sense of belonging, puts him on the right exit, sidelining the roadblocks of the vagaries of youth and the new norms of man- woman relationship, imported through globalized existence.To put it in a nutshell, Manirathnam is never prepared to forego his traditional moorings, while presenting a romantic story, through his chosen lane of creative journey.And this makes him, a specially acceptable film maker of romance, at all times.