Frame(s) #5 : Love & train

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  • Film : Thillana Mohanambal (1968)
  • Director : AP Nagarajan
  • Cinematography : KS Prasad
  • Cast : Sivaji Ganesan, Padmini

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  • Film : Vaaranam Aayiram (2008)
  • Director : Gautham Vasudev Menon
  • Cinematography : R Rathnavelu
  • Cast : Surya, Sameera Reddy

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  • Film : Iraivi (2016)
  • Director : Karthik Subbaraj
  • Cinematography : Sivakumar Vijayan
  • Cast : Vijay Sethupathy, Anjali

Love and trains have a strong companionship in tamil cinema, and not only in Mani Ratnam films as one could think. Whether it’s Sundaram (Sivaji Ganesan) and Mohana (Padmini) in Thillana Mohanambal, or Surya (Surya) and Meghna (Sameera Reddy) in Vaaranam Aayiram, or even Michael (Vijay Sethupathy) and Ponni (Anjali) in Iraivi, the directors chose to show their intimacy as lovers/couple in the half-privacy of a train compartment.

  • Train is where intimacy arises despite the supposed public transport crowd, whether it’s the first meet (Vaaranam Aayiram), a romantic moment when everybody fall asleep (Thillana Mohanambal), or the tender reunion of husband and wife after many storms (Iraivi). Lovers are alone in the world, boxed in a train compartment, in an awaited “tête-à-tête”.
  • Train is where men and women are equal. This equality often symbolized by the symmetry of the frame composition and the horizontal lines of train windows in the three frames. A special mention to the avant-garde Thillana Mohanambal as this 1968 movie is totally based on equality and mutual artistic admiration between the dancer Mohana (the great Padmini) and the musician Sundaram (the legend Sivaji Ganesan).
  • Train is a haven of freedom where men and women openly express their feelings, share their doubts and talk without any social pressure : Meghna and Surya in Vaaranam Aayiram have just met and the young man doesn’t hesitate a second to say that he fell in love at first sight ; in Iraivi, Michael is finally reunited with his family, seeking for redemption and moral solace with Ponni. In other words, train is where the masks fall, where the characters find truthness.

This train trope is too important in tamil cinema and deserves a full blog article soon.
To be continued…



Shakila Z.