#100days100scenes: Iruvar the political masterpiece

Although Nayakan of Mani Ratnam is in the top 100 movies in the Time's list, I feel that Iruvar is really his best movie ever. He managed to achieve something outstanding in terms of craft in that movie. The whole movie moved rather flows like poetry , its lyrical in its scene transition. The camera roves, it captures beauty and emotion, not a single dull moment. Its tough to do this in a movie that is basically based on the life of two big guns of Tamil Nadu politics - MGR played by Mohanlal and Karunanidhi played by Prakash Raj. More than a directorial triumph, its a triumph of the ecosystem of film-making he represented - technical crew of editing, cameraman, art direction and music ( AR Rahman) . The movie is really a tribute to single shot scenes in a magical conduit - its like you had a seat on the train that is moving. The idea was to use the camera as a spectator that didnt take sides as well because of the political sensitiveness of the topic.

The movie starts with the struggle of an actor who was trying to make it big in Tamil cinema. You can see the strife he is going to through ( the amount of preparation he is doing to get even a small role and at the same time believes he is destined for something bigger) , the 'talkies' funding problems, the production values and type of dramas of that time and the anguish when the movie where he had a meaty role gets cancelled. Mohanlal scorches through these scenes, making you feel for this character. This character becomes Anandan ( MGR in real life), a mega star.  He speaks the dialogues sometimes written by poet, script writer and eventual politician , Thamizhchelvan (Karunanidhi in real life) who then coaxes him to join politics.

The best scene of Iruvar is the one where Thamizhchelvan helps Anandan to understand the mass power he has , and how the people will lap up everything he says. For a writer to accept this reality that his words need a stronger voice and image , this is the best way if you are courting top talent and motivate them. Again the scene moves from their dialogue to the fans waiting below in expectation in an amazing flow , which is really the hallmark of this movie.

And this is where the art meets reality aspect of Indian cinema and politics converge , where in  the south , some of the best actors who played roles of benefactors became the messiahs that the poor voted for. Its that power that the medium provides them to pivot to a political level. This is the power that everyone seeks but some have bestowed on them because of the role they portray. Just like in the US, a Goldman Sachs banker can enter the Fed Reserve. Similarly as Tulsi Smriti Virani enjoys the adulation of millions of Kyunki Saas bhi bahu watchers as she speaks in Parliament. A crucial scene not just from Mani Ratnam movies , but the fabric of Indian politics itself.

Scene description

Anandan asks why are people waving at me in a political rally, I am just an actor. ThamilChelvan points out they dont think so. To them they are an image and that is your power , the power that Lenin and other Leftists fought for. We have to amplify it 100 times to win them over.