Mouna Raagam vs Raja Rani

One day when I was watching Mouna Raagam as a teenager, I heard my mother remark “But when Revathy plays all these pranks on her Anna and Anni, she is basically a sad soup girl?” I defended the movie saying that of course a person need not be moping all the time just because they have a personal secret. In fact, it becomes her that she goes on with her life seemingly normal inspite of it all”. But from then on, I actually saw Mouna Raagam a little differently. I removed Karthik’s character from the story in my mind and realised that the story stood very well with out this extra attachment(No offense to Karthik here, really).

So imagine my happiness when I realised that that is how Mani Ratnam intended it in the first place? It was just Revathy’s unwillingness to marry a stranger and face the unknown in the name of tradition. And who can blame her?

I then started having one major problem with the story. This being the fact that Mohan marries her after she expressly informs him of her desire of not wanting to marry him. That is seriously a crappy thing to do. I realise that the story can not happen without this particular flaw. And for this reason I am willing to let it go.

Years went on and then came in Raja Rani. It gained popularity as the “Pudhu Mouna Raagam”. I can not tell you how much this pisses me off for Raja Rani is nothing like MRaagam in what makes it a true classic. Take a few points.

Why do they get married?

Mohan marries Revathy because he truly believes that this girl is the one for him. Her personality seems to contrast against his more sober demeanor and he really digs that. He believes that after a few ackward initial days, they will be fine as a couple. He seems to be happy (initially) to marry this ball of fire. He is a believer.

Yes, Revathy marries Mohan as there is family pressure, father’s health, younger sisters etc etc. But then she also marries him because the guy did not take no for answer. She does warn him that she is not marriage material. She does not bait him deliberately, she gets captured into this trap by her circumstances. She is a sceptic.

Arya and Nayanthara marry each other for good old “I want to change my FB status to ‘married’ and I do not give a damn whose life I will be screwing up in my mission” reasons. They come across as horribly shallow people.

How do they decide to deal with it?

The way Mohan and Revathy decide to deal with the situation is very true to life. She asks for a divorce and it is not just to spite him. She really wants her old life back and she is willing to go for it. She has to remain in the house for the rest of the time and she wants to be polite until the divorce comes through.

He gives her a different room to live in and does not use favours from her like accepting her coffee as he should not get used to her presence. He consiously decides to not be polite to her parents as he believes that it will help her in being accepted back into her old home. They thaw eventually to each other and that is the main part of the story. It is a believable story.

Arya and Nayanthara hate each other from the word go. They do not for a moment think “I married this person for selfish reason. But what is going on in my spouse’s brain?” for one nano-second. They both share a same thought “I hate you for being my spouse”. They sleep on the same bed and there is zero reason why this should be so. There must be a guest room in such a big apartment. One of them can opt for that. When a friend asks about the prossibility of a divorce, Nayan says that she will never contemplate that as it might kill her father. But if she continues to pull a long face with Arya all the time, then it is equalent of begging for a divorce, right? Neither of them have personalities that have been thought through.

Why do they fall in love?

Mohan falls for her personality that is so in contast to his own, the way she is lively and daring in her own girlish way. Revathy falls for him as she sees his calmness in dealing with the problem, the way he accepts her decision stoically and without blame throwing and for considering small long term implications like deliberately being rude to her father and taking the blame of divorce on himself.

Both Nayan and Arya decide they have fallen in love with the spouse just because the other person used to have a BF/GF. Is that not lame?

Arya already knew that she was in love with someone as she used the other name in the marriage vows.  Why did he act as if he was glad about that? Does that mean he wanted the wedding to be called off? Will his parents not find another bride then? What is the point, really?

If you liked this movie can you explain why?

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13 thoughts on “Mouna Raagam vs Raja Rani

  1. I am so glad u hav written that raja rani is not the kadhal kaviyam that everyone thinks it is..!! nayan out of thr blue says, poi dhaadi shave panikka I will marry!! if u hav so much determination u might as well not marry!! its a stupid , overhyped movie.!!

    very nice read 🙂

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  2. Madhu says:

    I wouldn’t call it the latest Mouna Raagam, heck it is not even the latest Alaipayuthey. But, I did like the movie. Yes, there was nonsense abound, but in my recent memory prior to OKK, this is the only rom-com that didn’t annoy me. I cannot believe that this is the second time I am defending this movie in an online space. But MR takes a romantic movie for every generation and GVM’s romances don’t fall under the classic romances – I thought I was the only one who liked NEPV prior to you confirming the same elsewhere, VTV is not a romantic movie but more of what love does to the star struck. This is the lighter, fluffier, silly romantic one that had a few laughs here and there. Did it warrant for a block buster hit? Well, aalaiyilla oorukku iluppai poo sakkarai…

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  3. Madhu says:

    I watched NEPV with my MIL and somewhere halfway through the movie she told me “how long will he (GVM) keep showing they-fought-they-made-up?” 🙂 I think, we as audience are not used to this push-pull of love being shown on screen. And to top it all, the people are flawed – not in a way that makes them inhuman, just the opposite – the sheen of “hero” and “heroine” is not there. They are plain Varun and Nithya, who love each other and who will always love each other. Even Mounaragam required Mohan to be hospitalized and the “thaali” to dangle, but that kind of spiced up thing which never happens in real life is nowhere in this film – when it hits him, she rejects and when she does realize he is about to get married. This is not very acceptable when compared to the hospitalized husband, I suppose. Actually, my only problem in the movie was that he stops his wedding on the day of the wedding. I would have preferred it to be during the shall-we-get-Varun-married-to-his-SIL’s-sister phase or at least during the invite-printing phase, but that’s just me. But, I would take NEPV any given day when compared to the slew of these supposed rom-coms that we had between Alaipayuthey and OKK: Unnaley Unnaley comes to mind, that was one god-awful movie that I couldn’t stomach!

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  4. udhaysankar says:

    Yep,Got here after some links on BR’s blog.And you are right.Raja Rani is no match to Mouna Raagam.One glance at the lead couple’s residence,as it awes with it’s interior architecture you realize this is isn’t an honest movie.Couple that with the utterly crappy message that requests us to “love whom you marry,cause you’ll not always be able to marry whom you love”,An message that surely would have pleased many typical parents who’ll always start arguing the moment they get a chance that “love hardly works out”.

    Plus considering the cinematic aspects Atlee’s is no match to the MR’s craft and sensibility.With the frequent use of loud BGM to manipulate emotion’s,pales when compared to MR’s use of IR’s gems to elevate the mood.So,Mouna Raagam>>>>>>>>>>Raja Rani.Infact it doesn’t deserve the comparison a wee bit at all..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nicely written! Even I remember wondering why the flashback with Karthik was, entertaining though it was, necessary. Mani Ratnam mentions in his conversations with Baradwaj Rangan that it was more or less shoehorned in simply to make the audience accept her decision not to want to get/stay married to this guy. Now when I watch Mouna Raagam, I find it less impressive than I did originally. (I have to revisit Nenjathai Killadhe, and see if it has aged better.)

    There’s a nice symmetry to the use of hospitals — the first time, it is used to emotionally blackmail her into getting married, and the second time, it is used to get her to feel a kinship with this guy. But where the first one feels realistic (emotional blackmail is a pretty common trick in families, when you think about it), the second one feels forced, as though Mani ran out of ideas and needed to give her an inorganic push from I-want-out to I-love-you.

    However, thanks to the success of that film, there’s always someone or the other wanting to start off with the premise that they want a couple of reluctant people getting married to each other and discovering love along the way. Mani Ratnam himself riffed on the concept in his script for Dum Dum Dum (which in turn was a remake of an earlier riff that came on TV), didn’t he? Even Sillunnu Oru Kaadhal starts there, and then moves in a different direction. Of the lot, Raja Rani has probably the weakest script.

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  6. Ramsu: I have a suspicion that the tropes like the couple getting close because of illness start to annoy us as we grow older as we start to know about Stockholm’s Syndrome and such things which make us a bit skeptical about the romance factor in such things. And what if Mohan does not have a accident or illness. Will Revathy not love him? But I guess such contrivances are needed to move the story forward and remove the deadlock or stalemate.

    Mouna Raagam does continue to be a favorite though I am getting suspicious of its many tropes.

    BTW, I was never a fan of the Karthik-type character. The Mohan-type personality has always held more appeal to me.

    And I do understand that Mani Ratnam was right. I don’t think the audience would have accepted the movie sans the Karthik romance.

    And the reluctant couple trope is played with shipwrecks in western movies. We turn to arranged marriages. Oh the Irony. 🙂

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  7. In some ways, Karthik was the loosu paiyyan whose character sketch presaged the Amala character in agni natchathiram, no? Sure, there was the whole bad boy angle, but that really just felt like window dressing.

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