Saturday, October 6, 2012

Collector sir ...

Thalapathy (1991), Mani Ratnam

   "motham aruvathu naalu case ... Devaraj melayum ... Surya melayum"

Thus began the most impactful scene of Mani Ratnam's Thalapathy (1991). The scene was the first meeting between the new district collector Arjun (Aravindswamy) and the mafia kingpins Surya (Rajinikanth) and Devaraj (Mammooty). It is a clash, a conflict, a contest, all of friction and tension - spectacularly shot, directed and enacted - it was just impeccable. 

The scene assumes a temporary harmony when Surya starts explaining his point of view in a composed tone. 

"Collector sir, neenga eppovavadhu ezhaiya irundhirukeengala ... ?"

And then hostility starts to build up in subsequential exchanges and the conversation reaches a clear break-down when Arjun declares in all his capacity ...

"Unga katthalukku indha oor jananga bayapaduvanga, naan bayappada matten"

Surya's "thodra paakkalam" outburst not only gives an idea of the inflammability of the whole exchange but also suggests like the tip of the iceberg, the whole rivalry that might ensue. As predictable in tamil cinema conflicts, the individual has to rise above and counter the system (police, government, administration, feudal setups). This scene is a definitive illustration of this recurring individual-larger-than-system theme in tamil cinema. 

The scene was like a stunningly written prose, well constructed point by point, arguments built-up step by step, camera probing from face to face capturing the clash of the egos in all details, reaching the crescendo with that masterclass from Ilayaraja.
"niruthanum ellathayum niruthanum ... MUDIYATHU"
It was a collaboration of the geniuses of their crafts - Mani Ratnam, Santosh Sivan, Ilayaraja, Rajinikanth, Mammooty, Nagesh and Aravindswamy. The result was simply magnificient and thus Aravindswamy became one of the lasting impressions of the image of an IAS collector as far as tamil cinema is concerned. There are others too !!

Iraniyan (1999), Vincent Selva

 Surya Vamsam (1997), Vikraman

Thevar Magan (1992), Bharathan

 Indira (1996), Suhasini Maniratnam