Political-thrillers and movies with politics as their genre have a completely different fan base in a country like India where politics is everything. In a country where we live and breathe politics, entertainment that is based on politics sells like nothing else. Just as how it is not easy for a child to pick one favourite chocolate out of a collection, it is extremely difficult for a movie-buff, especially one who loves political ones, to pick just one out of the lot, and name it a favourite.
Yet, there has been one director who might have made my choice a tad-bit simpler. This is a movie that came all the way back in 1997, even before I was born. Still, it has made it to the article where I express my most favourite Political movie. While Hollywood, Bollywood and maybe even Mollywood may have done enough and more justice to this genre, I think I can say without a doubt that there is one movie that set a standard that nobody has beaten till now, in my opinion.
You might have figured out that the movie I’m referring to is Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar. There is so much to this movie that one article about it is not enough to give credit to everything it entails. It is a well known but unaccepted fact that the movie is based on the real-life stories of Mr. M G Ramachandran, Mr Karunanidhi and Ms J Jayalalithaa, all late politicians from Tamil Nadu.
The word ‘Iruvar’ itself can refer to so many things in the movie. It most obviously refers to the duo, Anandan and Tamizhselvan, played by Mohan Lal and Prakash Raj, respectively. But, it doesn’t stop there. It can also refer to Anandan’s two love interests in Pushpavalli and Kalpana, both played by Aishwarya Rai. It may be a reference to Tamizhselvan’s relationship with both Maragatham and Senthamarai played by Revathy and Tabu respectively. Lastly, it can also be a link to the differences in ideology that led to the split of Anandan and Tamizhselvan.
As a political drama, this movie stands apart because of the way art is portrayed in the movie. The screenplay, the acting, the sets, the costumes, every single aspect of this movie is just brilliant. The importance of art is defined really well with emphasis given to acting, poetry, dance, writing, etc. Of course, it goes without saying that the acting performances of the entire ensemble cast are an equally important aspect that gave the movie the recognition it has today.
The number one reason why Iruvar stands first in my list of favourite political movies is that it perfectly packs and presents the essence of politics in a nice package and presents it to the audience. While the storyline might be a little complicated, which is natural for a political movie, the idea of what politics actually is, is just wonderfully conveyed to the viewer.
It would be really unfair for me to end this without giving a super important mention to the songs and poems in the movie. Every single song was a hit and is a hit, because of where and how it was placed. It is really difficult to place a song like ‘Narumugaiye’ or ‘Hello Mr Edhir Katchi’ in a political movie, yet Mani Ratnam and A R Rahman did it for you. Similarly, another thing that stands out is the importance given to Tamil – every time Tamizhselvan speaks the beautiful language, you wish you could interact with him yourself. You wish you were Senthamarai when Tamizhselvan starts with, “Unnodu naan irundha ovvoru manithuliyum..”
On the whole, Iruvar is and will always be my favourite political movie. The ability of the director to bring in so much romance, art, history, drama, and friendship into a political movie still leaves me in awe. All those who haven’t watched Iruvar, should definitely watch it at least once.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.