Tamil Cinema has established its proud position marching through decades of remarkable contribution by a galaxy of talents, that include reputed film production units,eminent film makers amazing actors extraordinary cinematographers, musical wizards and several others taking care of the various segments of film making.Some have made their long innings and carved an immortal niche for themselves. Many have retained their powerful place in the film industry for quite long.But very rarely have we come across, a film maker leaving an indelible mark with just a couple of films. Rajiv Menon who made Minsaara Kanavu and Kandukondein Kandukondein,the two ultra refined films, stays acknowledged as a breezy film maker of outstanding merit.
Rajiv Menon needs a special pat for giving the audience something totally different from what they were used to watching.The first of his two films produced under the biggest AVM banner,has been reputed for leaving celebrated memories of delicate touches of romance.It was a fine,feather touch tale of love, involving two guys and a girl.One of the two guys, and the girl were schoolmates and childhood acquaintances and the other turned out to be an accidental intruder, with unique characteristics of ruggedness, warmth and sprightliness,the qualities that would easily attract any woman.Here the wealthy girl was a decisive spinster readying herself to put on the ecclesiastical attire .But her rich childhood cousin was dreaming all the time about winning her hand in love.
What mattered more was the exciting cast of the movie. Menon went in for the Bollywood Kajole, bypassing all the actresses here and it beautifully worked out. Kajole was seen as a sweet mix of toughness and tenderness reflecting a balanced inclusion of the felicity and agony of falling in love, with just a role play of her sparkling eyes and adept body language.Similarly, she poignantly brought out the conflicting emotions arising out of her chosen spinsterhood and the sudden occurrence of falling in love.While handsome Arvindsamy neatly performed as the chocolate boy and dreamer of romance,Prabu Deva caught our imagination by his rugged charm and nimble niceties of role performance as a youth capable of creating sparks of love in a girl. S.P.Balasubramanyam and Girish Karnard were perfect in their paternal roles.
The casual happening of love between the poor, happy-go-lucky Prabu Deva and the nun- to- be Kajole, was exuberantly narrated by Rajiv Menon, with exquisite scenic display and aesthetic grandeur.The brilliant musical composition of A.R.Rehaman was another great talking point.I still keep on wondering about the most poetic cinematography of the song sequence "Vennilave Vennilave".How enchantingly Prabu Deva and Kajole would move their limbs in very close proximity,without touching each other and how like an escapologist they would get disentangled without actually getting physically entangled, finally reaching the irresistible embrace.It was an exotic visual extravaganza projecting windy dance movements, shuttling between breeze and storm.It was like the fascinating experience of passing through the peerless lines of 'Ode on the Grecian Urn' of John Keats.No doubt the film generated electrifying dreams for a huge section of the audience, with its neat narration and energizing songs like ''Poopookkum Osai''."Manamadhurai Mamarathu" "Strawberry Kanne""Thanga Thamarai Nilave"and "Anbenra"besides the scintillating "Vennilave Vennilave"
Rajiv Menon's other film "Kandu Kondein Kandu Kondein" based on Jane Austen's famous novel 'Sense and Sensibility' created an experience of watching a constellation of stars from the North and South.There were Aiswarya Rai,Tabu and Abbas from Bollywood,Mammootty from the Malayalam film industry and Tamil Cinema's great names like Ajit,Manivannan,Raguvaran,Nizhalgal Ravi, Srividya and S.N.Lakshmi.As an avid reader of all the novels of Jane Austen starting from Pride and Prejudice to Persuasion, I did enjoy watching the film that warmed up the core of the book with the big screen.The underplay of emotions by Mammootty,Ajit,Tabu and Srividya stood in sharp contrast with the dramatic uproar of Abbas,Aiswarya Rai and Manivannan.
This was another version of romance demonstrated by conflicting interests and emotional outbursts between two pairs of lovers played by Ajit and Tabu on the one hand and Abbas and Aiswarya Rai on the other.How the war affected Mammootty mellowed the boiling mood of Aiswarya and saved her from the emotional turmoil resulting from jilted love, was brought home through subdued narration.Like Minsara Kanna this film was also known for its exalting music core with unforgettable songs like Enna Solla Pogiraai,Yenge Enadhu Kavidhai,Konjum Mainaakale Kanna Moochi Yenada and the title song Kandukondein Kandukondein composed by the same A.R.Reheman.
Both the films were rocking romances with distinguished themes and story lines narrated in a different vein. While the former was a consummate tale of romance the latter was a family drama too. The romantic dynamism of Minsara Kanna inspired the audience to a great extent.Whereas Kandu Kondein Kandukondein was a blend of usual family emotions and those of expectations and the consequent moments of disappointments and pangs of separation arising out of the misplaced expectations. Aiswarya Rai compactly revealed the vagaries in her characterization with the mature Mammootty making her, getting into terms with the practical implications of life. Tabu elegantly reflected her suppressed emotions and Ajit was in full form of youth with his creative and histrionic formulations. Minsara Kanna was meant for all sorts of audience thanks to the popular presence of Prabu Deva. But the Menon's second film Kanukondein Kandukondein,appeared to reach a selective group of audience, on account of its inherent layers of consistently felt elegant touches in narration.On the whole it could be said that, with two films Rajiv Menon created a life time impact of a rejuvenating, film watching experience.