Director: Mani Ratnam; Producer: G. Manohar Naidu; Cast: Aravind Swamy, Madhoo, Nazar, Janakaraj, Pankaj Kapoor, Vaishnavi, C.K. Saraswathi, Vijayachandrika, Satyapriya, Vatsala Rajagopal, Baby Sujitha, Raju Sundaram
Duration: 02:12:49; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 30.780; Saturation: 0.082; Lightness: 0.192; Volume: 0.192; Cuts per Minute: 11.075
Summary: Special Appearance:
Dubbed from Tamil.
Unusually, Mani Rathnam’s Tamil hit also
became a success in its Hindi dubbed version.
A politically controversial film set mainly in
Kashmir, it recalls the real-life incident of a
Kashmiri terrorist kidnapping of an Indian Oil
official in 1993. In a spectacular opening the
Indian army captures the dreaded Kashmiri
terrorist Wasim Khan. In return, militants
abduct the film’s hero, the Tamilian cryptologist
Rishi Kumar (Swamy). Roja (Madhubala) is
Rishi Kumar’s Tamil-speaking wife, left alone
and unable to communicate in a land where
nobody speaks her language. Eventually, just
as she manages to convince a minister to agree
to an exchange of prisoners, Rishi Kumar is
released while the terrorist leader Liaqat
(Kapoor) is ‘humanised’. The lead couple’s
marriage in the sylvan surroundings of the
cryptologist’s native Tamilian village, evokes
the rhetoric of Tamil nationalism, a contentious
issue in the context of Rajiv Gandhi’s
assassination by Sri Lankan Tamils and the
DMK’s avowed past seperatism. Rathnam then
displaces this nationalism by inflating it to the
dimensions of Indian and, more specifically,
uncritically Hindu chauvinism contrasted with
the presentation of the Kashmiris as religion
obsessed, bellicose and profoundly
‘unreasonable’. In one famous scene
, the tiedup
hero, offended by the Kashmiris’ burning of
the Indian flag, crashes through a window and
tries to extinguish the flames with his body to
the tune of a Subramanya Bharati lyric. In
Hyderabad, the film’s Telugu version sparked
an outbreak of anti-Muslim slogans. Billed as a
‘patriotic love story’, India’s election
commissioner T.N. Seshan took the most
unusual step of officially endorsing the film.
The music was also a hit, esp. the rap number
Rukmini sung in Hindi version by Baba Sehgal.
Tejaswini Niranjana analysed the film’s political
address in her essay Integrating Whose Nation?
(1994), which led to a major debate on the film
in the Economic & Political Weekly.