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The magic of Mani Ratnam and Ilaiyaraaja: 5 collaborations between the filmmaker-composer duo that stay evergreen in our hearts

The two stalwarts of Tamil cinema celebrated their birthday on June 2

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 02.06.23, 12:45 PM
(L-R) Mani Ratnam, Ilaiyaraaja

(L-R) Mani Ratnam, Ilaiyaraaja ZEE5, Facebook

Filmmaker Mani Ratnam and music composer Ilaiyaraaja worked together on 10 films throughout their illustrious careers. Few partnerships have borne fruits as delectable as theirs during the 1980s and the early 1990s before the emergence of a certain A.R. Rahman. Here’s a look at five collaborations between these two stalwarts of Tamil cinema on their birthday on June 2.

Mouna Ragam (1986)


Mouna Ragam, starring Mohan and Revathy, is one of the hallmarks of an extraordinary partnership between Mani Ratnam and Ilaiyaraaja. The film, which explores the complexities of love and relationships, showcases Ilaiyaraaja's mastery in crafting melodies that seamlessly blend with the complex narrative. Songs like Chinna Chinna Vanna Kuyil and Mandram Vandha Thendralukku conveyed the emotions of the characters and went on to become instant hits.

Nayakan (1987)

Regarded as one of the greatest Indian gangster films of all time, Nayakan is another instance of the brilliant chemistry between Mani Ratnam and Ilaiyaraaja. This crime drama, starring Kamal Haasan, Saranya and Karthika, features a powerful narrative and an evocative score. The haunting soundtrack of the film seamlessly merged with the gritty narrative, vividly portraying the emotional journey of its protagonist. Songs like Nee Oru Kadhal and Thenpaandi Cheemayile turned out to be timeless classics to be cherished by music connoisseurs.

Agni Natchathiram (1988)

Ilaiyaraaja's genius shines through in every note of the soundtrack of Mani Ratnam’s action-packed drama Agni Natchathiram, which features Prabhu, Karthik and Amala. The album encompasses a range of emotions — from love and passion to rivalry and triumph, all interwoven into the film's central themes. One cannot speak of the film's music without mentioning the evergreen romantic track Ninnukori Varnam, sung by K. S. Chithra, which tugs at the heartstrings and evokes a myriad of emotions.

Anjali (1990)

The soundtrack of Mani Ratnam’s emotional drama Anjali, starring Raghuvaran and Revathy, resonates with the emotions portrayed in the film. Ilaiyaraaja's music added depth to the narrative, enhancing the overall viewing experience. The theme track of the movie, Anjali Anjali, expressed the emotional bond between the titular character and her family. Another lively and energetic composition, Kaatukuyilu, captured the spirit of childhood.

Thalapathi (1991)

A modern-day adaptation of the epic Mahabharata, Thalapathi brought together two powerhouses of Indian cinema — Rajinikanth and Mammootty. Ilaiyaraaja's score perfectly complements the film's emotional depth, creating a captivating atmosphere. Hits like Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu and Chinna Thayaval have found their place in the pantheon of beloved classics of Indian movie songs.

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