The partnership of ace director Mani Ratnam and music maestro AR Rahman's is one of the most celebrated collaborations in Indian cinema. With Kaatru Veliyidai, they have marked 25 years of creative excellence. Their collaboration is perhaps the longest one than any other in the history of Indian cinema. Right from Roja (1992) for which Rahman won the Best Music Director at the National Film Awards, an unparalleled win for a debutant film composer, to Kaatru Veliyidai (2017), they have done 13 films together. And almost all of them feature highly acclaimed soundtracks both commercially and critically. At the audio launch of Kaatru Veliyidai, Mani Ratnam said, "For Rahman, every film is a special journey and his pursuit of exploring new, unique sound for his films continues even today". And for Mani Ratnam, Rahman said, "It's because of Mani Sir that he received this platform where he can implement high-end ideas and refined sounds". Rahman also thanked Late K Balachandar for introducing him to Mani Ratnam. These statements show how comfortable they are working with each other. As they complete silver jubilee, let's take a look at their few evergreen soundtracks.
1) Roja (1992)
Roja was their first collaboration and is considered as the milestone in Indian cinema, which marked the beginning of a new wave music trend in India. The original soundtrack track was in Tamil which was dubbed in Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi. All the songs were trendsetters across India, especially songs like Chinna Chinna Aasai & Kaadhal Rojave. The album was listed in Time magazine's ‘10 Best Soundtracks’ of all time. It also won two National awards, one for best music direction (Rahman) and one for best lyrics (Vairamuthu).
Bombay was the second film of Mani’s political trilogy. The soundtrack became a rage soon after its release. The songs like Hamma Hamma, Kannalanae and Uyire Uyire were on everyone's lips. The album was listed in The Guardian's ‘1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die’. The Hamma Hamma song was included in the soundtrack of recently released Ok Jaanu (2017) and has received 165 Million+ views on YouTube as of 4th April, 2017. This shows that the song is ever contemporary.
Dil Se was the third film of Mani’s political trilogy. This one is Mani Ratnam’s alleged favorite out of all the films he has done with Rahman. Again, the soundtrack is considered to be a cult classic. The Chaiyya Chaiyya song is the biggest hit of dancer Malaika Arora’s career. The songs like Jiya Jale and Dil Se Re were recreated by Berklee College of Music as a tribute to the Academy Award winner Rahman.
Alaipayuthey was a musical drama that dealt with the then urban relationships. The music was wholeheartedly accepted by the music lovers. The Telugu version was released as Sakhi and was also remade in Hindi as Saathiya. The songs like Pachchai Nirame and its Hindi version Saathiya are considered to be all time favorites of romantic song lovers. The other popular songs from the album are Kadhal Sadugudu/Aye Udi Udi and Yaro Yarodi/Chhalka, Chhalka Re.
– Nitin G Thomas