Mani Ratnam – Ilayaraja duo is one eternal combination


Some collaborations have an everlasting eternity. They have etched into people’s minds so deep, that they cannot be thought separately. One such combination, South Indian films have been lucky to witness is Mani Ratnam and Ilayaraja’s duo. Though ARR have took over the dynamics and have made a stronger collaboration with Mani Ratnam, Mani-Raja duo has changed the sensibilities of south Indian visuals and music. Because both ran hand in hand.

When Mani Ratnam was showing a pathos sequence, Ilayaraja was giving a psychedelic tune to it. They both have opened up the way of narrating though subtle visuals and background music instead of heavy dialogues and rotten emotions. And incidentally they have born on the same date, June 2nd, though Ilayaraja is twelve years elder than Mani Ratnam. here we project a few memorable works they have done together.

1. MOUNA RAGAM (1986)
A breakthrough film for Mani Ratnam in Tamil, in making his own style of films. This film made on the friction between newly married couple and the girl trying to get over her past. An urban style Tamil film, back in 1986. This marked the territory of Mani and Raja very clearly. Through some brilliantly and till then an unheard genre of soundtrack, they have brilliantly done the needful. This even gave the film a national award under best film category. Also released in Telugu, this film ran brilliantly in Andhra Pradesh.

Watch the video songs of the film Mouna Ragam

2. Nayakudu (1987)
Nayagan in Tamil, it is probably one of the few films to achieve a cult status in India. Made on the lines of Godfather, this film was made on life of Mumbai based don Varadarajan Mudaliar. Played by Kamal Hassan, this movie just had the best works. From a different narrative, to taking style of the film, this film has some extraordinary background score written. Especially in elevation and emotional scenes, Raja has taken the film to another level. Also it is one of the best performances from Kamal Hassan. This film was India’s official entry to Oscars that year.

Watch the climax bit of the film here:

3. Geetanjali (1989)
“Ye?” this one dialogue is forever into Actor Nagarjuna’s one of the best scenes. Mani’s first direct Telugu film, it has seen Nagarjuna in his classiest ever form. Narrating the love story of a couple suffering from terminal illness, Mani’s brilliance can be seen in taking the gloomy climate in the scenic beauty of Ooty as the backdrop. Also Ilayaraja once again hitting the right note with the melancholy score, and still experimenting with the songs in creating a legendary soundtrack, with heard never before texture in Telugu music. This movie won a national award and best director and story for Mani in Telugu state Nandi movie awards. The movie was dubbed in Tamil as Idhayathai Thirudathe.

Watch the climax of the film Geetanjali here:

4. Anjali (1990)
Mani took a different story of a little autistic girl and her family in this Telugu movie Anjali, who takes precious care of her but only to see her die at the end. Mani was first successful in selecting the right cast for the film. The little girl played by Shamili, just made people cry with her wonderful acting prowess. On the other hand Ilayaraja is the unsung hero for the film, with his heart wrenching score. Extreme sad and eerie at places, the soundtrack had Ilayaraja get children to sing the introductory song of the girl. This was again India’s official entry to Oscars that year.

Watch the Anjali Anjali song here:

5. Thalapathy (1992)
Though this was unfortunately the last film combination between Mani and Raja, they have given their best in this. Taking the adaption of the Mahabharatha, Mani took the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana as the line and made a gangster film on that. With songs ranging from friendship, love, mother-son relation, revolt, folk, this movie has every type of genre, still maintaining the pathos touch to it. With Rajinikanth and Mammotty as the leads, this film has a much underrated background ever in Indian films. Ilayaraja breathed the emotions into every scene in this film, especially the cues of ‘Sundari’, the haunting train background score showing the reminiscence between mother and son and a lot more.

Listen to the album here:

After Thalapathy, Mani collaborated with AR and the rest is history. But to the fans of Mani-Raja, their combination is unparalleled. Though separated, they’re still producing several extraordinary works, and we wish they continue doing that.