Iruvar: Okay, Is It My Fault That I Didn’t Understand This Movie? Or Is It Because I Needed To Know 60 Years of DMK History?

I was watching this movie so closely!  So closely!  I know the drill with Ratnam films, he just drops in these little bits and then moves on so you can’t look away for a second.  And yet, I was still completely lost.  But I don’t think it’s my fault!  Or at least, not my fault because I wasn’t watching closely enough, but because I didn’t have the expected background.

A little over an hour in, Mohanlal is shot and it is specified over and over again that he was shot in the throat.  Which is such an odd kind of wound!  And also is when I suddenly went “Hey!  Deja vu! I read about this in India After Gandhi!” So from then on I had the wikipedia pages on MGR and the DMK party open the whole time for reference, and that made things a lot clearer.


(Never mind, this was the opening slide of the film, so I guess all of the similarities were just a random coincidence and it has nothing to do with MGR and the rise of the DMK)

I think that might be why it is called “Iruvar”?  Which I keep seeing translated as “duo”.  That the “duo” is not about our two heros (or not just about them), but about how film and politics work together in Tamil Nadu.  And also in Andhra Pradesh with the Telugu industry, I have been told?  That they are intertwined, sometimes helpfully and sometimes not.  That maybe neither of them would become the powers they are today without the other.  I think that’s why the repeated image of the film is Prakash raising Mohanlal’s hand to wave to the crowd, the politician acting as the movie stars puppet master, at the same time that the movie star lends his popularity to the politician.


That’s the big statement, I think, made by the film, both about the characters and about the entire political scene and the film industry in Tamil Nadu.  That their coincidental meeting was the making of them both, Prakash Raj/Tamil politics getting the glamour and popularity of film, and the film industry/Mohanlal borrowing the rhetoric and passion from politics.  But at the same time, the pure humble politician catches the desire for power and fame and love from the movie star, while the movie star catches the desire for respect and action from the politician.  In the end, instead of being a symbiotic relationship, a melding of different skills and interests, it turns into a competition, as neither of them sees the need for the other any more.

But is that true?  Even if the characters/social elements no longer see the need for each other, do we, the audience, see why they still need the other?  I think so.  I think that is what the end of the film shows, they need each other because they are the only ones who understand each other.  After decades of film and politics in Tamil Nadu moving forward together on the same path, only a politician can really understand a film star and vice versa.

The “moving forward on the same track” part is what I find fascinating!  Not so much about the politics, but about the film industry!  What this movie is positing, I think, is that the strength of the Tamil industry is in its entanglement with Tamil politics.  And that only after the film industry borrowed the power and passion of the local politics, the elements that made it distinctly Tamilian, did it become truly powerful.

Okay, I think I need to back-up here and take a moment to run through the significant moments of the characters’ journeys.  And, I guess, SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.  Although, you could be just as spoiled by reading the MGR wikipedia page.

Mohanlal is a village boy who has devoted his life to studying traditional Tamil drama, including fighting techniques and acting.  This goes hand in hand with his faithfulness to Gandhian politics, a belief in Indian values and rejection of everything Western.  He is offered a starring role, thanks to his fighting skills.  And the scriptwriter on the film is Prakash Raj, a fervent young Tamilian politician and writer.  When he rattles off a triumphal challenge to traditional values on their first meeting, Mohanlal ignores the content of his speech and instead is thrilled by the skill of his language, sure that his touch of the film will make it a hit.  Meanwhile, Prakash has no patience for any of the trappings of the film, seeing it only as a means to an end, a way to make money while focusing on his political work.  But, is that the true vision of them both?  Is Prakash just a believer who wants nothing for himself and is Mohanlal a simple starstruck boy?  What drew them to each other in the first place?  Is it that they saw in the other a hidden embarrassed part of themselves?  I think that’s what the film is implying.

There are two scenes later where one challenges the other, changes their perceptions.  First, after a political rally, Mohanlal asks Prakash what he would do if he ran the state.  And he keeps pushing and challenging him until, finally, Prakash reveals his vision and his dreams.  They are all hopeful and wonderful and naive dreams (wealth redistribution, education, etc.), but it is also an admission that Prakash does want power.  Even if, right now, it is just power in order to right wrongs, it is still power that he wants.  Not merely a humble service to the party.

And on the other hand, Mohanlal, that happy actor, has his own bitter quest for respect and social change.  After he loses his first big chance when filming is canceled with the film unfinished, he goes to Prakash, who is riding high on an election win for his party.  Prakash implies that the film is meaningless, in the face of what the party has accomplished today.  And Mohanlal, for the first time, drops the happy facade.  He reveals his bitterness, that he has worked and saved and sacrificed his whole life for his vision of Tamil theater, that Prakash has no idea what it is like to really struggle, that he filled his head with dreams and now he has nothing.  It is an admission that Mohanlal doesn’t just want to be loved, to be famous, he also wants respect.  And it is his political awakening, as he sees that the policies Prakash espouses can be used not just to punch up a film script, but to solve the problems of society in a more effective way than the national Gandhian philosophies he used to believe in.

It’s only after their mutual realizations, after they have worked on each other and changed each other, that they find success.  When Mohanlal is called for his second film, he refuses to audition without Prakash Raj there to punch up his dialogue.  Prakash Raj leaves his own child’s birth to come to the set with him.  And together, they turn a simple story about a prince and a princess into a massive pro-Tamil statement with huge crowd appeal and power.  Prakash gives depth to Mohanlal’s art, and in turn he gives glamour to Prakash’s politics, officially joining his party and appearing at public rallies in support.  And in a bigger statement, this is why Tamil film/politics is so different from the national politics/Hindi film industry.  Mohanlal started out valuing the training and history of Tamil performing.  But it was only when he tied that with the modern aggressive Tamil political identity that he had a hit.  And it was through the Tamil politics embracing of film stardom that the party was able to come to power in the state.

(No subtitles on this video, but trust me, it is all about “land arise! defend your honor!  defeat your enemies!”)

But of course this partnership can’t last.  They have become too similar now.  At the first big political rally Mohanlal attended, he arrived late, creating a stir in the crowd that distracted from Prakash’s speech.  Prakash happily capitalized on that, calling him up to the microphone to give a few remarks.  And Mohanlal was content to merely defer to Prakash.  Now, years later, Prakash wants what Mohanlal has.  Significantly, when they first met, Mohanlal was dancing around with a sword, pretending to be a hero while Prakash turned film dialogue into political speeches.  Now, Prakash is given a ceremonial sword signifying he is head of the party, while Mohanlal starts giving the speeches.

Oh, and somewhere in there Mohanlal is shot.  There was really almost no reason for including that, except that they wanted to be really really sure the audience got that this was supposed to be MGR.  It does almost nothing to progress the journey of the characters.

Really, there is no one moment that changes things for the characters.  Except, maybe, for those two moments early on that I already mentioned, when Mohanlal forces Prakash to dream of having power for himself, and Prakash challenges Mohanlal to reveal his own desires for change and improvement in society.  Otherwise, it is all internal, or off screen.  There is a great shot when the camera pans across the empty legislative chamber while snippets of speeches and radio announcements roll out over the soundtrack, describing Mohanlal’s splitting of the party and seizing of power for himself.

And their “reconciliation” is just as lowkey.  A public event that requires attendance by them both sees their eyes meet, an exchange of glances, and then Prakash offering a hand when Mohanlal stumbles, and a shared laugh as Mohanlal quotes a dialogue Prakash wrote him.  And then Mohanlal leaves, to dies soon afterward.  And then there is a very blunt ending sequence where Prakash is turned away from the funeral, and instead mourns Mohanlal alone, reciting their old dialogues at the monument where they used to meet.  Blah blah, while in public they may have grown apart, in private they had the same shared beliefs, and so on and so on.  But I like the quiet moment better, just smiling and laughing because, at heart, they never really had anything to fight about.  I would have preferred it if Ratnam had ended with that, Mohanlal walking away, obviously frail, and then a little text box showing up saying he died the next day or something.  But, Ratnam went with the bigger more popular ending, letting Prakash shout at the sky in a very cinematic heritage building.

Ratnam did a lot of things in this movie to make it more popular.  For once, not the songs.  Ratnam, of course, haaaaates doing song sequences.  Which is hilarious, because he is so good at them!  But in this case, I think they actually served his purpose.  Because he wanted to show how the film industry developed in Tamil Nadu between the late 40s and the late 60s.  And song sequences were the simplest and easiest ways to show that.  Especially since he also wanted to show the influence of politics, and songs have always been the best place to slip in your political message.  I mean, of course Rahman knows this!  He stuck an explicit vision of Indian army violence and oppression into “Dil Se Re”!

(Ignore the romance and the beautiful music.  Focus on the visuals.  This is just plain anti-national propaganda!)

The songs are also used to show the innocence and romance of early film, and how it changed over time, through Mohanlal’s three romances.  His first, his arranged village bride when he is a new star, is lyrical and magical, in lovely black and white.  We see how even the everyday with her felt magic.

His second, the marriage of convenience and pity to his costar, is still lovely, but less magical and more human.  We see how even the magical moments of film are just everyday.  One of my favorite little bits is seeing her practice her steps with the choreographer for a moment before doing them all romantical and perfect with Mohanlal.

And then there is the final romance, with Aishwarya, the young actress who reminds him of his first wife (also played by Aishwarya).  Only, instead of being a shy village bride like Aishwarya1 or an enduring and abused woman like his second wife (played by Gautami, who is publically in a live in relationship with Kamal Haasan.  Isn’t that interesting!  That would never fly in the Hindi industry), she is a confident educated woman who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants.  And this time the songs have a certain level of aggression and flirtation, she is dancing for him and around him while he watches.

Film has gone from an innocent magic, to a way to save a woman from abuse, to a way for a woman to exert her own power in a relationship.  It has become powerful and respectable and it isn’t afraid to use its power.  Which is why Aish is part of the final political film song, the one that sweeps Mohanlal’s party to power.  It is a level of calculation and confidence that the earlier film industry, as shown through the earlier and more innocent love interests, would not have been capable of.

While Mohanlal’s love stories are shown through film songs, Prakash’s are shown through words.  His carefully phrased wedding vows, his verbal challenges to his wife on their wedding night, not to be afraid to say what she wants, to demand passion and happiness, and his devoted vows to his mistress (second wife?) Tabu that every moment with her is the best moment of his life.  Ultimately, Prakash’s words are no more meaningful that Mohanlal’s songs.  Or, to put it another way, Prakash’s political vows are no more meaningful than Mohanlal’s movie magic.  They both betray the women who love them.

Prakash promised his wife faithfulness and happiness, and he falls in love with another woman.  We see only glimpses of how he balances the two relationships, but we do see a few moments where his first wife looks hurt and conflicted over her awareness that he has another woman.  Meanwhile, Mohanlal promised love to Aishwarya2, promised to marry her, with many great romantic gestures, and backed out when his political ambitions got in the way.  And Aishwarya2 makes it clear that she is hurt by this and knows that he betrayed her just because of his ambitions, not because of any concern for his wife, or for morality.

Let’s see, overall meaning, songs, relationships, what’s left?  Oh!  Performances!  The casting in this was PERFECT.  Mohanlal, a huge star with a massive faithful following and decades of experience, plays a huge star with a massive following and decades of experience.  I mean, he’s also a good actor who does a great job in the role, transitioning from playing an innocent young actor with stars in his eyes to a tired old man who has lost all his illusions, but it wouldn’t have worked half as well if they hadn’t used an actual major star to play the major star.

Prakash Raj is predictably excellent.  But more importantly, he is NOT a star.  You need someone who is charismatic onscreen, who can act, who can deliver dialogue, but is also believable as someone who is more of a politician than an actor, who can’t combat the star power of a movie star, who can’t get the crowds to love him like that.

The two forgotten wives, Revathi and Gautami, are excellent, and also not real “stars”.  I mean, yes, they are well-known actresses and all that.  But they have a quieter onscreen energy, they are less shockingly beautiful, they are a good contrast to Tabu and Aishwarya.  Revathi, because she has a quieter shyer way about her that doesn’t really spark with Prakash’s aggressive performance, it is clear why Prakash would want Tabu’s fire and strength.  And Gautami because she is graceful and sweet, but without the shocking beauty of both Aishwarya1 and Aishwarya2.

Aishwarya is of course the real story here.  This was her first movie and it is a fabulous showpiece for her.  She appears to show great range, playing the shy village bride and then coming back an hour later as the feisty and sexual actress.  And her dances are amazing.  And the camera loves her.  Of course, now it is 20 years later, and the camera still loves her, and the dances are still amazing, but the acting range appears to be a bit of an illusion.  Especially considering that we now know what it is like when she isn’t dubbed and has to deliver her own dialogue.  But in this movie, she was great!  If this was all I ever saw of her, I would think she was an amazing talent.

Oh, and one fun fact which also makes me very fund of this movie, Aish’s above song is an homage to the greatest American film on the early days of film, Singin’ in the Rain.  Which is also my favorite American film, period.


37 thoughts on “Iruvar: Okay, Is It My Fault That I Didn’t Understand This Movie? Or Is It Because I Needed To Know 60 Years of DMK History?

  1. Hereafter, I will never work with a man of whom I am a fan. I often forgot to say ‘Cut’ in Iruvar – Mani Ratnam about Mohanlal


    • Exactly! I really liked her in this, and in Jeans, and in Kandukundan! Maybe it is because she is dubbed? Maybe it makes her more relaxed when she is performing, knowing she doesn’t have to worry about the dialogue? And less grating to watch because we don’t have to hear her incredibly mannered dialogue delivery?


  2. My Postcolonial Literature professor, who is half Tamilian and half Malayali, mentioned Iruvar while explaining how politics in Tamil Nadu works. You won’t believe the level of sycophancy you see for the leaders sometimes and how it affects the working of the state. Like you mentioned here, they attain godlike status. Jayalalitha, who Kalpana is based on, even has an entire channel called Jaya TV dedicated to her and her alone.

    Our prof told us that originally Iruvar’s ending, title and entire framework was different, but that Mani had to change the ending because Karunanidhi, who Prakashraj’s character was based on, came to power and there was a v real chance the film would be banned. So Kalpana is killed off and Prakashraj’s character has a grand ending that extols his friendship with Mohanlal’s character, and that puts them on equal footing. Even the title, Iruvar, is an indication of how politics outside the movie affected the way it was made.


    • That is FASCINATING!!! I had no idea Kalpana was supposed to be Jayalalitha. So, she was supposed to survive and take over after Mohanlal died? And Prakashraj would sink into pointlessness?

      Purely in terms of the characters, that makes a lot more sense! Kalpana was all ambitious and strong and sure, and then suddenly she turns into this saint doing good works and disappears from the film. But if they were heading towards her taking over Mohanlal’s political party, and then suddenly had to change directions and write her off, then I can see why it was like that.


  3. Well not so much sink into pointlessness (though in the recent election, Jayalalitha won for the second time consecutively). For the most part their parties are elected one term after other -AIADMK one term, DMK the next…so on and so forth. But yeah, she takes over, and in that universe (had it been directed differently), Kalpana would have taken the reins post Mohanlal’s character’s death and Prakashraj’s character would form the opposition. And the level of hero worship is so high that dissent of the ruling party could *seriously* land you in trouble.


    • I keep thinking about the end of Sarkar Raj. Terrible movie, but that’s the ending, Aish taking over the reins of power. Maybe I could just stop Iruvar 15 minutes before the end and switch over to the last 15 minutes of Sarkar Raj?


      • Jayalalitha was publishing a serialised biography in a Tamil weekly magazine. At this point she had mostly quit films and was propganda secretary for MGR’s party, like MGR was propganda secretary for Karunanidhi’s party.

        MGR asked her to stop this serial biography because he didn’t want any past truths creating problems for present party.

        My understanding of Jaya is that she was a brilliant mind, a state topper in her 10th, before her mother forced her to quit school & join college.

        When she joined movies she was not overawed with anyone or their star power & maintained her aloofness, but in MGR she found a kindred spirit in terms of an “intellectual equal” for her. At this MGR was way old for her, like her father, but hewas her mentor, best friend, debating partner etc. I think she enjoyed being with him & he in turn respected her intelligence ( but also was an equal to her, I think)

        Her major angst was that all her major life decisions were forced on her:
        1) she was topper in school but her mom forced her to quit school and join acting
        2) she was killing it in movies but her mentor forced her to join his party
        3) she was doing well with her serialised auto-biography but again her mentor forced her to stop because he didn’t want any trouble for his political ambitions
        3)when her (film & political)mentor died, she was literally kicked out & the doors were literally shut on her. She tried to enter his house thru the front door but they closed that and left thru back door. Then when she tried to board the funeral vehicle she was pushed down
        4) after this when she won on her own and entered the legislature as opposition she was publicly attacked & humiliated by the Members of the then ruling party (Karunanidhi’s party)


  4. Well it’s always been one of those big rumours that never went away! Jayalalitha and MGR were co stars in a staggering 25 movies or so, and there were several news pieces that referred to her as his mistress, but nothing was ever confirmed. While reading up on this I think I found something interesting: immediately after his death, his then wife was sworn in, and Jayalalitha was extremely angry, saying some really sexist and ageist things (she was 40 and the wife was 60 plus I think) about Janaki being only fit to be a housewife, holding beads and chanting prayers to Rama. There seemed to have been an all-out catfight between them once he died, I read about it in this interesting newspiece here:


    • You know what’s the most interesting thing about that? It was a paper in America that printed the full complete details! Because they had to be aaaaaaallllllllllllllllllll the way on the other side of the Atlantic to feel comfortable printing it (I assume).

      But also, wow! So juicy! And so clearly the inspiration for Iruvar! They even had the “turned away from the deathbed” scene, only with Prakash Raj instead of Aish.


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  13. I am going to give here a long reply because Manirathnam movies are shrouded in mystery and real life events that prompts us to read a LOT. I will explain as much as I can and read this post at your own discretion.

    Originally when India was facing British for independence, it had numerous parties like Hindustan republic association of which Bhagat Singh is part, and Azad hind faux of which Subhash Chandra Bose was part of, swaraj party precursor to present form BJP, Muslim league which demanded separate country on religious grounds.
    All these were divided in their struggles and battle against common opposition. They had their own vested self interests. So when Gandhi came into picture he toured India for Ver long and united all these factions under one action committee called Congress established by A.O. Hume, an irony of a britisher here. Back in British labour party had sympathies for Indian independence because they were against company owes and their monoploies. Any non governmental monopoly is always bad for either countries. When Gandhi managed to unify country and thanks to WW2 and British debts to USA it could no longer sustain India or any colonies so it declared independence. India was divided on religious grounds, but into a number of smaller princely states and provinces. Congress successfully drafted a constitution satisfying everyone and strengthening Indian union. Indian union was shaky in the beginning with an ever looming threat to break into smaller countries faced by both internal factors and internal factors – west hated India because it didn’t support them on international forums and was helping other colonies gaining independence. Communist blocks hated India because it resisted communism to flourish.
    On this backdrop immediately after independence Gandhi suggested that Congress be dissolved but power hungry politicians resisted. As time passed Congress gained votes on the slogan of brining independence to India which continues today. Anyone who began to differ is expelled from the party. One who began to differ are ruthlessly crushed. So factions take precedence. This continued for some time where India was democracy only in name but in reality it had one party dominance like China. Everyone thought that India would eventually turn into China, especially the way Indira Gandhi was ruling. Thank god for her massacres and genocides she died.

    By that time local/state level parties started to rise up against the obvious Congress as Congress continued to be dominated by land owner class which acted against public will and hell bent on protecting their properties and vested interests. Power struggles ensured giving rise to bloody affairs and factionism that continued till 15 years back. You see factionism in movies too, like Indra.
    You know how violence is like : violence begets more violence. Watch rakta Charitra to understand this concept more deeply and understand how this political system works.

    Moving on, as local parties were in great demand those days local celebrities and famous people started reacting to the people’s requests. Since NTR and MGR had huge following among masses and couldn’t see India progressing took upon themselves, retiring from movies, the idea of starting a party and put an end to this one sided non democratic affair. In states conditions improved but at centre it took 15 more years for betterment.

    In this backdrop when cinema stars are obliged to serve people through politics, casteism, factionism, dirty/murder politics, corruption come into picture. That’s where present day Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi come from and also present day TDP -in neighbouring state- come from.

    Coming to real life Jayalalitha was an actress before she got into politics. I am trying to be bold and straight here knowing it might upset a few people here. MGR and Karunanidhi – a writer back then- were friends who decided to put an end to this undemocratic rule and started a party. Ideological differences occurred. It was spurred by MGR’s late, almost old age seduction to Jayalalitha. Some people retorted and the party split into two factions. Meanwhile original Congress had its people merged into these two opposing factions we see here. DMK and AIADMK. They are the worst kind of politics with murders deciet and corruption. Their aim is to defame and dethrone the ruling party. They fight each other and among themselves all the time.

    Meanwhile in AP which was having a similar stunt created by Lakshmi Parvati by marrying NTR while he was 70 and she was some 30 (she approached him as a journalist and hit him when he was weak). NTR lost his wife long before that and stayed single. She entered and tried to capture power from old man. Party workers saw what happened in neighbouring state. They quickly retorted and threw NTR off power and kept it to themselves. NTR own family resisted his marriage and supported de throning him. NTR died of heart attack soon after that just like MGR. Congress, looking at what happened in neighbouring state, expressed sympathies with the NTR loyalists and criticised TDP loyalists who captured power. Hence they sustained until recently. They are viped out now. All they have are old corrupted scum bag.

    Meanwhile Jayalalitha became CM and the fued continued until few months back she is dead of some highly suspicious circumstances.


    • When you go for Dil se and Bombay movies of Manirathnam, I will be glad to explain them to you too, if you promise to share them with readers, and when you write a review for them.


      • I’ve actually written an academic paper on Roja-Bombay-Dil Se. But I am nervous about posting it here because, as you are aware, those films deal with some really really touchy politics.

        On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • If internet has taught me anything, it is never to fear away from want you want to express, unless it is guaranteed to ensure psychopathic behaviour among anyone. I love reading research papers so much. I would be glad to read it if you don’t mind sending it.
          Try to post it here and let us see. If you get too much negativity just apologize and take it down. Better than having it hidden in a closet. Isn’t it?
          BTW I don’t see political satires coming from Hollywood. All I see are social satires, like American psycho. They are good but politics are a lot simpler and better to explain as it has far fewer shades and dimensions of thought. What is you opinion on it as an American?
          Or did Hollywood really made such movies and I missed them? Please correct me.


          • America has an insidious kind of government censorship, because it is covert not overt. There is no government censorship body or any official oversight on popular media.

            But if a film steps too far out of line, deals with anything “real”, it is immediately accused of dealing with issues that it has no right to discuss, with “demeaning” politics by bringing them into the popular realm. And there is the constant unspoken threat of the government stepping in and setting up censorship.

            Have you heard of the Blacklist and McCarthyism? The republicans needed to win elections and combat various internal issues in America, so they invented the problem of Communist spies infiltrating the country. They put together a committee called the House Undemocratic Activities Committee and called before it everyone from anywhere that they thought might be a communist. And if you were called to testify, it was pretty much guaranteed you would be considered guilty. This was in the 1950s, in the 1930s, 20 years earlier, communism was kind of a phase for a lot of people in America. You might attend a few meetings, maybe join the party, and then lose interest and move on. Reminds me a little of how it is in Kerala and other places in India now. Reading Marx and joining the party is just something you do in college, and then you get married and grow up and forget about it. But now, 20 years later, suddenly you are called before Congress and asked to “admit” you were a communist spy, and to name the names of everyone else you knew who went to those meetings.

            Hollywood was hit really hard. Movie stars, screenwriters,directors, everyone was called up. You either named names and officially declared your allegiance to America and disgust with communists, or you were “blacklisted”. You weren’t arrested, but you couldn’t work again. The FBI would visit your house regularly, and no one would hire you. Again, this was true through out all kinds of different industries (I knew someone whose father was blacklisted, she learned as a child to hide behind the couch when the FBI showed up. He was a factory worker I think, blacklisted for being a leader in a union). It was especially hard for Hollywood artists, because their name was everything. They couldn’t just change names and start over, no one would hire an unknown director/writer/actor. A lot of them went underground, or found people to submit scripts on their behalf. The few who turned, who did name-names, became somewhat infamous. Elia Kazan, who directed On the Waterfront, he won an Oscar and the crowd refused to applaud him.

            Anyway, it seems like since then Hollywood has been running scared a little. Individual artists will make political statements, but the big studio films won’t overtly say anything besides “America right or wrong”.

            There are a few, the Manchurian Candidate was a really hardnosed and fearless look at this whole Blacklist era. Of course, Michael Moore’s documentaries are always blunt and extreme. But generally Hollywood chooses to deal with politics through social issues, like you said, rather than head on. Too scared.

            On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:23 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • This might upset you a little but shame on USA for professing ideals like democracy, freedom etc.. and acting exact opposite. I was always told USA and Russia are no different when it comes to politocs, atleast Russia had guts to admit what it does. I now kind of see the hypocrisy. I am still studying American history but didn’t go into great detail. What I understand is govt of USA is, of the rich and for the rich.
            Just look at Indian news channels, they are a mess. Perhaps nowhere will you find anti nationals coming on television and insulting India. Also govt taking no action while public outrage on them. Strange place India !
            Most of what you mentioned about documentaries I don’t know, I should check them out. I watched one documentary on the WTC twin tower attack that got awards. There wasn’t much politics in it but I instantly felt that America isn’t the land of dreams everybody thinks it is. It is like any other country. People are being bluffed – also part of reason why I didn’t come to America with a lot of my friends there.
            Sorry if this targets your sentiments and nationalism. I suggest you remove these too much political combo from comments. Let it be simple.


          • Doesn’t upset me at all! Part of being American is having the right to express your opinion and demand that things get better. It’s the only way things will change.

            Check out “Fahrenheit 9/11”, “Bowling for Columbine”, and “13th”, all great documentaries that confront some real issues facing America today which mainstream media/pop culture does not like to deal with.

            On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 12:08 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • I already saw Fahrenheit 9/11. That is what won awards. I remember watching 13th. But can’t say. I watch documentaries more than movies. I will surely check out the other one though. Thanks.


    • Thank you! This was a great summary. I’ve picked up bits and pieces of it, but hadn’t had it all put together like that before.

      On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Also watch Rana’s first movie leader. It is in English subs here

        It is the most realistic depiction of Indian state politics you can come across. Since it came much later, though it had numerous similarities to current happenings, it was cleared by sensor board.


        • Don’t forget to check out the director’s other fantastic works, especially happy days and Godavari. He is so not Tollywood like. He is grounded in reality.


  14. Usually I have planty of thoughts after watching a movie, but in this case I don’t really know what to say. I watched it, as always, without reading about the plot, knowing only director’s name and the cast. And as Polish I know nothing about Tamil Nadu politics, and I really believed this story is fictitious. Now that I read your comments I know that it’s not true.
    For sure this movie make me think about some things, and thanks to that I start reading about Jayalalitha and MGR. It’s very hard for me to conceive this leader/movie star cult in India.
    I was born when Poland was still a communist country , and I got goosebumbs while hearing Prakash Raj naive political dreams in the beginning of the movie. I wish they show some of his decisions when he become CM. Did he fulfill some of his initial dreams? Was he a good leader? Instead of another 20 minutes long song, Mani Ratnam should show me that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly my reaction. Not about wanting to see what happened with Prakash Raj, but about feeling like I didn’t really know what to do with this movie, and then it all made a lot more sense once I learned about the real history.

      On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



        • I’m just so glad that “wound in the neck” thing was so specific. If I hadn’t had that clue, I never would have realized it was a real story and would have been completely lost the whole time.

          On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 11:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  15. Pingback: Tuesday Tamil: Mersal Review (No SPOILERS), Very Very Political | dontcallitbollywood

  16. Pingback: Happy Birthday Aish! My 12 Favorite Songs | dontcallitbollywood

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