Reflecting on Mani Ratnam's love story with mirrors

I am a Mani Ratnam fan... Not a die-hard one, though. I had always been fascinated by his films in some way or the other. It is either the cinematography or the story or the making of the movie that makes me live in a dreamy state for at least 2 days. But, I have never been more fascinated by this man in the past than I am today. All of us have noticed how the genius had beautifully employed trains, buses, rain, clouds, sun, moon and everything else in sight to make us live in his world for minimum 2 hours. I don't know if this has been unnoticed for so long or the beauty of the other Mani Ratnam elements eclipsed the maestro's usage of mirrors. Or am I the last one to talk about it? Enlighten me if I am.


The recently released "Vaan Varuvaan" mirror shot sent chills down my spine. I don't understand what's so special about the shot. But the impact it created for me was huge. The intense expression of Karthi and Aditi Rao translated the following exchange between them (at least for me) I am putting it down in as much Mani Ratnam style as possible:

Aditi: En naan? En ivlo... adhu ennadhu? Love?
Karthi: Idhanala (and shows her her reflection and makes her realize how beautiful she is)

If at all the conversation between them is something like this, I would be ready to die like that very second. (Also Read - WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN MANI RATNAM AND AR RAHMAN COMBINE)

I watched the shot for thrice and felt an aura of familiarity. Where had I seen it before? I traveled through my thoughts and landed in "Hey! Sinamika!"

The shot of both Aadhi and Tara looking into the mirror is yet another beautiful (didn't want to waste time searching for an adjective. All of us know how breathtaking the shot is) one.

These two shots set me thinking. Why is the reflection of the real world so compellingly mesmerizing when it is nothing but the reflection of what is actually happening in the real world? Especially in Mani's movies?

I don't know about the trains, buses, and rain that are a recurrent feature in his movies. I've never thought of what they represent. But when I thought of the mirrors that are a little less noticed feature of almost all of his films, I noticed, the reflection of each character carries a story that the character never says out loud

If we take the Ok Kanmani's reflection shot, I think it conveys Aadhi's total surrender to Tara. Tara actually knows about it. She is just naughtily eyeing him when he melts in her, physically and emotionally. Aadhi until the end never confesses his love for her. But apparently, he was the first one to fall.


The epic 'Alaipayuthae' mirror shot is a classic example of how lost they were in each other. Their life was so perfect and their entire world consists only of two people: Karthik and Shakthi. The various stages of the shot convey a variety of emotions. They stare into each other's eyes still not able to believe that they are together after so many things that they have undergone. They let the truth sink in and enjoy the moment and concede to each other.


The "kalvarae" shot from "Raavanan". I haven't ever noticed it until I sat down to write this piece. Was it representing that things would be topsy-turvy very soon? Or did it represent that they were head over heels in love with each other? Whatever it was, it is a magical moment and could never be forgotten.

This is again one more shot which I hadn't noticed in this long. There's only the reflection of one person while there are two people in the actual frame. For me, it meant, even if they are two people, in reality, their soul is one and they have entirely merged into one person.


Nayagan made me realize that art never dies. It was released somewhere around 6 or 7 years before my birth. I know it is a must watch movie because I am a die-hard Kamal fan. Every Kamal fan on earth would know how obsessed one of us would be with our God's performance and how tough it is for us to notice the other brilliant features of the movie. Blindly, like any other Kamal fan, I would attribute every inch of brilliance to the living legend, Kamal. But this shot in Nayagan has been yet another mind blowing one where Nayagan gets a sneak peek into the life of a student whose fate lands her in that hellhole. The frame speaks for itself. The melange of all the 'shad colors sings a song to the eyes. It would be probably possible to see 50 shades of sadness in these 30 seconds. Did it also symbolize the introspection of Velu?

He did suddenly realize he wasn't heartless. All this visual beauty combined with perfectly sculpted dialogues teleported me to another world for a fraction of a second.



While we have all these shots, here comes the master of them all. The major scene which made me think if the Guru gives another new dimension to each of his stories through the mirror shots: Iruvar!

Anand and Kalpana, tries so hard to not be in love with each other, but are alone on a beautiful cliff. Anand looks into his mirror, which represents his world and realizes he's alone and slightly getting old. Yes, he has someone at home. But his thoughts are still trailing behind the actual love of his life, Pushpa.

He decides to come out of his world. He shuts down his makeup kit and all he sees is Kalpana, who, he believes is an incarnation of Pushpa.

Kalpana sits there with him, eyeing into a mirror: her world. Her world is really small. She didn't miss any chance to take a look outside. She was so desperate for love to throw all her desires and be with the man who was as badly in need of love as she was. She puts her world aside ready to enter his!


Pure genius!

Who else other than the Guru himself can actually bury so much meaning in just a couple of seconds?


What, other than another an astounding mirror shot keep fans like me waiting for yet another magic from the living legend?

Waiting isn't easy.

Do tell me if I had missed another great shot!

Written by - Aparna Ramanan 


Watch this video where VJ Abishek tries to understand the magic that Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman manage to create every single time they collaborate.


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Reflecting on Mani Ratnam’s love story with mirrors | Fully Filmy

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