Happy birthday Mani Ratnam: Revisiting the veteran director’s best collaborations with AR Rahman

Ever since their first union ‘Roja’, the stellar combo of Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman has delivered several prodigious albums across languages. Even though recent compositions of Rahman with the veteran filmmaker sound unique and have earned the same love from audiences, there’s something special about their initial collaborations. On the ace filmmaker’s 64th birthday, we take a look at five of his best collaborations with Rahman.


AR Rahman, fondly called as the Mozart of Madras, made his composing debut in this film and rendered seven splendid tracks. This album, which is still considered one of Rahman’s best works, was listed in Time magazine’s “10 Best Soundtracks” of all time. Vairamuthu’s sweeping lyrics – ‘Pudhu Vellai Mazhai’ for romance, Kaadhal Rojave’ for longing, ‘Thamizha Thamizha’ for patriotism – make the album an all-time favourite with an eclectic range of tunes and thoughtful lyrics.


Thiruda Thiruda

With eight tracks, this comedy thriller has many interesting facts. Rahman has employed a capella (extensive instrumental use of human voices), a musical innovation in mainstream film music, for the songs ‘Thee Thee’ and ‘Rasaathi’. While the techno-pop heavy ‘Chandralekha’ in Anupama’s vocals is still mind-boggling, the grand orchestration style in ‘Veerapandiya Kotiyle’ will leave you in awe.



The soundtrack of Bombay created a revolution of sorts in the 90s. While it achieved the staggering feat of becoming the largest selling Indian album of all time, the inclusion of the soundtrack in the prestigious overseas publication The Guardian’s ‘1000 Albums To Hear Before You Die’ was the icing on the cake. Vairamuthu’s line “Madham Ennum Madham Oayattum” from the song ‘Malarodu Malar’ beautifully encapsulates the film’s storyline which is based on the controversy surrounding the demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindus.


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Uyire / Dil Se

Dil Se was the first Indian film to enter the top 10 in the United Kingdom box office charts. The insanely popular ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ (Thaiyya Thaiyya) gained an entry into BBC’s poll on ‘Top 10 Songs of All-Time’ and also got featured in the Hollywood crime thriller ‘Inside Man’. This album was a smashing hit and has gained a cult status in Tamil audience’s jukebox ever since.


Kannathil Muthamittal

Kannathil Muthamittal, even after so many years, remains as one of the most affecting albums from the collaboration of Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman. With lyrically enchanting tunes, Rahman delivered a truly world-class album. It would not be an exaggeration to call it as his best work till date for Mani Ratnam. Vairamuthu’s lyrics and MSV’s vocals for the song ‘Vidai Kondu Engal Naade’ will move anyone to tears and best depicts the agony of Sri Lankan Tamils heart-wrenchingly. In the song ‘Oru Dheivam Thanda Poove’, Vairamuthu has skilfully weaved paradoxical lyrics in an intriguing fashion.


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