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My Top 10 Mani-Ratnam+Architecture Moments

Hello hello !

For those of you who don't know this about me, I am a huge Mani Ratnam fan. I think the man makes visual poetry on screen, portrays messy, real characters and coupled with some great music (almost always) gives us magic !

This is not to say that it's a one man show. He has a great team of cinematographers and music composers who all work together to produce this magic. I thought I'd make a list of scenes from different movies where he's used "architecture" as an active part of a scene which is sometimes subtle and sometimes much more direct. As I was putting together my list, I realised that this is super common for the director - almost every third scene has something great, but here's my top 10 !

10. Raavanan

Using the cave to frame Veera and his hostage on the run

The Climax - where this building turns from a ruin in the scene prior, to a fortress when the police arrive. Combined with the sky and trees, it lends the sense of impending doom.

9. Guru

I'll admit I haven't watched the movie, but look at the window and light ! And the carpet that directs your gaze to it..

See that small peak of a structure visible through the gap, beyond the rocks ? The scene is a beautiful pan where they tease the audience with the temple in the back.

8. Alaipayuthey

Simply magic.

Such craft !

7. OK Kanmani

One of my favourite films in terms of the tone and aesthetics.

See that light peaking through ? It's a precursor for this next frame.

Silhouettes against the huge window. This house adds so much value to the film and its moods.

6. Thalapathy

Symmetry + Grand staircase to indicate the arrival of someone important.

One of my favourites - look at those arches indicating a sense of movement/urgency towards the Operation Theater.

5. Dil Se

These Frames (!)

4. Kannathil Muthamittal

THIS. Using scale to draw us to the child.

3. Kaatru Veliyidai

So pleasantly surprised when I went looking for this.

2. Bombay

Classic. GEM. Nothing else to say.

First glances. Curiosity. Peeks. So good !

And finally,

1. Mouna Raagam

My absolute favourite - Simply because of the house. Used so beautifully throughout the movie. While it's set in Delhi in the film, it's located somewhere in Kilpauk(!) irl. Might stalk this house someday. Using the house and the 2 characters moving through it to show longing, anger, affection..

The man obviously has way many more in his ouvre. Frames and setting lend so much to his films. We can use them to make the audience see specific things. Did any of these catch your eye before ? What are your favourites ? Let me know below !

Note : All images/stills are from Youtube and belong to the individuals who posted them. I do not claim any credit for the same.

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1 Comment

Nirmal Neeth
Nirmal Neeth
Apr 21, 2020

Very interesting one to link Mani movies to architecture. 8th one in the list fantastic ..wish someday I see one like that. Interesting titbit, Kilpauk? Will find this soon

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