Alai Payuthey

Mani's directorial mind and heart sways beautifully like his film!

Madhavan, Chennai welcomes you!

Stars: Madhavan, Shalini, Pyramid Natrajan, Jayasudha, Vivek, Swarnamalya
Music: A.R.Rahman
Director: Maniratnam
Released: April 13, 2000
Reviewer: Usha Gopalakrishnan
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

It is not the traditional Mani Ratnam movie -  not a documentary and not shot in the dark!!  It is instead a very refreshing love story.

Shalini and Madhavan meet and fall in love. Shalini's family is very poor and do all they can to put her through Medical School. Her sister Swarnamalya slaves for the family. Madhavan's family is well-to-do and both sides are against their marriage. So, they get married secretly (with Shalini's sister Swarnamalya's knowledge and help) and they continue to live in their respective homes until the day a marriage alliance for Swarnamalya forces Shalini to divulge the truth, due to unforeseen circumstances. The usual fight occurs forcing Shalini and Madhavan to leave their families and set up a home together.

Shalini and Madhavan in Alai PayutheyMeantime, Shalini's mother (Jayasudha) and sister meet her and tell her that her dad is seriously ill. By the time Shalini and Madhavan decide to go and see him, it is too late. They are both guilt-ridden and begin arguing and quarreling for each and every little thing, not being able to openly discuss things with each other.  In an effort to patch things up, Madhavan aides in arranging Swarnamalya's wedding with the same family that comes earlier to see her.  The quarrels between Shalini and Madhavan continue till one day, she gets hit by a car driven by Kushboo (collector Arvind Swamy's wife) who does not even have a driver's license. Shalini is in intensive care, while Madhavan and the rest of Shalini's family anxiously wait outside. Madhavan witnesses Arvind Swamy trying to console his wife and taking the blame for the whole accident. That's when he realizes the true meaning of love and marriage.  If a man could forgive and love a wife that almost killed another human being, then why was he fighting with his own wife, who had done nothing wrong? After this, all ends well and they live happily ever after!

The scenes right after Shalini and Madhavan move in together, for example, when she is frantically looking for her misplaced 'thaali' which Madhavan has playfully hung on the mirror, and also when Shalini counts to ten as soon as Madhavan comes home from work before which another argument begins, are all very nicely shown, with a touch of humor. Words cannot describe the color, richness and aesthetic sense brought together in P.C.Sriram's cinematography in Alai Payuthey.  The songs are great, especially Snegidhane Ragasiya Snegidhane (the best song in the movie with great lyrics) and Kaadhal Sadugudugudu are wonderful. Definitely worth seeing with the whole family!

Usha Gopalakrishnan

Original Photograph (Alai Payudhae): Thanks to C.D. Insert
Photograph scanned & reworked by: Sandya