3M - Mani, Movies & Marriage

It is coincidental that I am writing this blog on the eve of Valentine's Day. Just that I found time for this only now. V-Day has been a rage in India for over two decades now. I have never lived in the West, so I don't know what kind of a fad it is there, but here, guys and girls take the event seriously. Some take it too seriously resulting in attempted suicides in the following week, which is very sad. For me, the essence of a relationship has clearly been marriage - I have been married for a decade now and we have had our share of best moments and some not-so-worthy-to-mention too. But, its all in the game. Being a sucker for commercial cinema, I have always been enthralled over the fact how movies capture the essence of marriage, starting from boy seeing the girl to proposing, dating, running around, getting married and fighting thereafter - only to live a few days or months or weeks or years together and everytime a fight occurs, either of them choose to hang on and make it work. Like I always say, it's easy, quite easy to walk away in a marriage. It takes a lot more to hang in there for years together - there is a thin rope, a symbol of hope on which people hang on. And this is the very establishment of a Marriage. Again, I am speaking in a context that I am familiar with.

I have always been mesmerised with movies that involve a love subject and most movies do have one. But the manner in which some movies stand apart are far and few. And in this scenario is when I want to talk about the 3M - Movies, Marriages and Mani Ratnam, the ace Director who has given so many memorable hits. Mani handles marriages extremely well in most of his movies. Here are some examples and my views on probably what went in his mind and in the mind of viewers when they watched his movies, especially a few memorable ones;

  • Mani's first film was Pallavi Anupallavi (1983), a Kannada film that dealt about the relationship between a man and an older woman.
  • In 1986, he made Mouna Ragam, where the leading lady asks for Divorce from her newly married husband as a gift on their first night. A clear case of the young girl unable to let go of her past love life which was a disastrous one.
  • In 1987, the Kamal Hassan starrer Nayagan was released in which the hero goes on to marry a 14 year old girl who is forced in to prostitution and meets her for the first time at a brothel when she requests him to allow her sometime to study for her exams the next day. This was a clear case of lending a long arm to the less privileged.
  • In 1988, he wrote and directed Agni Natchathiram which revolves around two step brothers, who come together to fight their father's antagonist. The film revolves around the manner in which the father of the two heroes handles his marriage - one that is official and one that is not and which has a huge impact on the two youth and their lives. 
  • In 1991, Dalapathy feat. Superstar Rajinikanth deals with how the protagonist is forced to remarry a widow, whose husband was killed by none other than the protagonist himself... Another case of how the society was morphing itself when it came to the topic of widow remarriage.

  • In 1992, his Roja was a national award winning film in which the village girl who goes on to marry a Software Engineer and fights the terrorists to bring her husband back. The girl doesn't fall in love at first sight but has tremendous respect for her husband and the institution of marriage
  • In 1995, Mani directed Bombay, loosely based on the Bombay riots and had his hero and heroine from two castes (Hindu & Muslim) get married, have kids and bring their respective fathers together! This was the beginning of the popularisation of inter-caste marriages.
  • Iruvar, that released in 1997 was about one of the two leading men who had two wives, one for his love for womanhood and one for his love for intellect. While dual marriage is illegal in India, it is quite common that men across the society have taken to this for their own conveniences, emotional and physical satisfaction.
  • In 1998 came his Dil Se in which the hero is torn between a bride-to-be arranged by her family members and another girl whom he falls for, who happens to be a terrorist. A clear case of a moral fight between the heart and the brain.
  • Y2K or Year 2000 was a revolutionary year for Tamil Cinema with his Alaipayuthey setting a different benchmark when it came to pre- and post-marriage travails. Running away and getting married was both justified and admonished, especially at a young age for the couple, for they do not understand the sustainability of their youthfulness for long.
  • His 2002 film Kannathil Muthamittal dealt about a married couple who had adopted a baby who had a mother from another country and the film was about how the child reacts to her story. This film was a remarkable beginning for couples without kids to look at adopting a baby far more seriously than just in a movie.
  • 2015 saw O Kadhal Kanmani, a light hearted film that revolves around a young couple, reminiscent of today's times - love at first sight, date for a while, live-in till all goes well and move on thereafter and pursue their own personal lives. 
Mani's movies have always had a strong essence of marriages. His own marriage to actress of yesteryear and yore, Suhasini has been a solid one and the couple seem to have been blessed with a happy marriage and family, which most of his peers and actors haven't been able to. Happy couples are not only seen in cinema but also in real life and the same applies to not-so-happy marriages which are more in real life than in reel. Most love marriages go the wrong way, midway and the evidences surrounding us are not surprising. Arranged Marriages, on the other hand are kind of "arranged" in a sense that the couple mostly do not come with expectations and most often, accept to be with each other and move on. Its an age old debate of which one is better, a marriage that is solemnised by elders of the family or by the couple themselves. I watched Bangalore Natkal last week, which is yet another film about marriages. A sort of failed marriage in which the wife takes all the effort to resuscitate the marriage and the husband joins her at the end. Unfortunately, most love stories and marriages do not end that way in real life.

So whichever way you are married, or plan to marry (if you don't plan to marry, then please ignore!), first start believing in the institution that is marriage. It is not about two physical bodies coming together but two beautiful souls embracing each other. Opposites attract, is an age old adage. But if you are similar too, then you can still make it work. On this Valentines Day, I wish more couples remain valentines to each other for as long as they live, for the marriage is a beautiful thing that brings them and their families together. Cheers. 


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