Retro Review - Alaipayuthey - Love flows like a wave

Retro Review - Alaipayuthey - Love flows like a wave

8 Apr 20 @ 3:37 PM | By Divya Nair

Retro Review - We present the reviews of some of the films that offer great cinematic experience as if they are released now (currently). We present the content in such a way that we have just come out of the theater and penned out our thoughts fresh. You can enjoy the reviews and relive the moments in a different way. And try to watch the films like they're new, once again.

Today, we recommend one of the beautiful films of Mani Ratnam, Alaipayuthey, which is a realistic take on romance pre and post marriage. 

Director - Mani Ratnam

Producer - Mani Ratnam, G. Srinivasan

Music - A R Rahman

Cast - Madhavan, Shalini, Swarnamalya, Cameo roles of Arvind Swami and Kushboo

Mani Ratnam's  Alaipayuthey is a realistic take on romance and it explores the love between a couple during their courtship days and how it changes post their marriage. The film is a take on marriage where it has conflicted versions - one engulfed in tradition and the other in modernity. And it is 20 years since the film's release, yet the theme seems fresh and contemporary. And it resonates universally. 


The movie begins with our hero driving stylishly along a busy road without realizing that he is passing by an ambulance that is carrying his love who has just met with an accident. 

**Flashback mode starts**

Enters Karthik (Madhavan), a free-spirited rich guy who is interested in establishing his start-up. He happens to meet a smart and outgoing girl during a wedding and instantly falls for her outspoken ways. A few days later, Karthik meets her on a local train. He finds out her whereabouts after some permutations and combinations using the local train she commutes. 

She is Shakthi, a medical student, a middle class girl whose dad is a government servant. He proposes marriage and Shakthi brushes it off citing it as a rich guy's silly infatuation. But on insisting, both their parents meet, but given the class divide they do not get along well. Shakthi leaves for a long medical camp. It is when they realize that they were so madly in love. How beautiful the song Evano Oruvan conveyed their longing for each other! The lyrics make your eyes well up.

Post Shakthi's return, the duo get married with the help of Karthik's friends and Shakthi's sister Poorni. The couple keep it a secret and continue with their daily lives when an alliance brought by her parents forces Shakthi to reveal about her marriage. 

The distraught family disowns Shakthi and she starts her life with Karthik. Their romance is one of the beautifully picturized in films with more love and less lust. Snehithane and Kadhal Sadugudu are the proof. But the guilt of hurting her parents over-power Shakthi who begs Karthik to reconcile with them. By the time he relents, Shakthi's dad passes away. This creates a rift between them as Shakthi taunts Karthik for all this. Their relationship hits a rock bottom with things turning sour with each passing day.

Karthik, does go to different extremes to make Shakthi happy when he tries hard to fix Poorni's alliance which was called off due to their marriage. He tries in his own capability to get things streamlined without Shakthi's knowledge. But by the time Shakthi realizes Karthi's efforts, she meets with an accident when she is hit by a car driven by Kushbu, wife of a bureaucrat Arvind Swamy. Film closes with Shakthi slowly opening her eyes in the ICU while swearing her love for her husband Karthik.

Well, the story looks normal, boy meets girl, falling in love, eloping, conflicts in marriage, and so on. But what makes Alaipayuthey the best among the romantic films is its narration. The subtlety in expressions, the portrayal of love without being loud, the inner turmoil faced by the couple which shows not on their faces but in their eyes, the pining, the whining, all look so natural that you forget that the visuals are on screen and not in front of you. That is the power of master craftsman Mani Ratnam. 


Kudos to Madhavan. What a performance for a debut actor! He was a small screen actor making his big screen debut in an ace filmmaker's project. He looked naive as a lover and a responsible guy post his marriage. His body language, his naughty grin and a few of his dialogues were a rage then. 

Shalini, unlike her earlier films where she went overboard, Alaipayuthey had her picture-perfect. The film had relatively all actors who were making their big screen debut, be it Poorni, or Poorni's fiance or Shakthi's dad, everyone performed like seasoned actors. 

Support Crew

No comments needed for the music. The songs and the score by AR Rahman were out of the world. It is the soul of the film. It arrests the movie viewers taking them to a magical land of love and love only. The mellifluous songs, the stylish track, the fast number, all burn into your soul. Need we say about the frames of PC Sriram? The scenes just sail. Crisp editing by A. Sreekar Prasad keeps us glued. 

Master blaster Mani Ratnam

Mani Ratnam, as we know, requires no introduction. His films are a guide to couples which shows how a romance must be dealt with, how deep the relationship should be, to what extent a partner has control over the better half and so on. Well, it is his knack of handling relationships on the big screen that makes him a darling among movie buffs.


Even the hardest of hearts will fall in love after watching the film. It has shown how romance during courtship transforms into a more matured love post marriage. The silly lovebirds will never be the same once married. The film may not inspire those who swear by the traditionally arranged alliance but it does make you fall in love to experience the feeling of love. Watch it for everything - the performances, the direction, the music, the song lyrics, the frames, did I miss anything?

Rating- 4/5

Reviewed by Divya Nair

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