Mani Ratnam Movies- Motherhood

Shades of Motherhood in Mani Ratnam Movies

We keep immortalizing the leading ladies in Mani Ratnam films but here’s a character set that should be given their due credit- the mothers in Mani Ratnam movies.

Within the tapestry of Mani Ratnam’s cinematic brilliance lies a captivating exploration of the essence of motherhood. Ratnam delves into the raw emotional depths of maternal love and sacrifices through his masterful storytelling and nuanced character portrayals.

Also Read: 7 Mothers Who Redefined the Motherhood Trope

I would like to pick three mother characters from his movies that have won my heart: Indira from “Kannathil Muthamittal,” Chitra from “Anjali,” and Kalyani from “Thalapathi,”. Through them, Mani Ratnam encounters profound layers of motherhood that awaken the deepest recesses of our souls. These three characters face different emotional challenges as mothers and it is a riveting exploration to watch them handle their vulnerabilities in their respective journey of motherhood.

Indira – “Kannathil Muthamittal”

Kannathil Muthamittal- Simran

Indira, a character brought to life by the magnetic presence of Simran, etches an indelible mark on our hearts. She is the mother to an adopted daughter and two biological sons. But her love is never divided unequally among her kids. The emotional turmoil she faces when Amuda comes to know about her adoption has been well explored.

While Indira’s love remains unwavering, she is disappointed by the distance Amuda starts to create between them, and how she starts to see herself as someone different from Indira. And her pain is palpable through some very poignant and emotionally confronting scenes. Indira’s unwavering resolve, driven by a mother’s love, illuminates the screen, leaving us transfixed.

Chitra – “Anjali”

Revathi in Anjali (1990)

In “Anjali,” Ratnam’s canvas expands to encompass the fragile realm of a family confronted by the fragility of life itself. Revathi’s portrayal of Chitra plunges us into a whirlwind of emotions as we navigate through a mother’s anguish. With each heartbeat, we share in Chitra’s tireless efforts to steer the emotionally challenging path of caring for a terminally ill child.

The most hard-hitting scene for me in Anjali is when Chitra’s persistent efforts to reconcile with her daughter were hardly reciprocated by a mentally challenged Anjali. For Anjali, Chitra was a face she never saw in the last three years. Chitra desperately tries to convey to Anjali that she has a mother who is more than happy to compensate for all the time she lost with her daughter.

“It hurts when you run away from me!”; she says, begging Anjali to accept Chitra’s love. Before Anjali’s last day on Earth, Chitra’s efforts are answered and Anjali finally calls her “Amma”, acknowledging the existence of Chitra as her mother.

Kalyani – “Thalapathi”

Srividya in Thalapthi (1992)

In the realm of “Thalapathi,” Ratnam transports us to a world where maternal love transcends societal boundaries. As we delve into the complexities of Kalyani’s character, played with unmatched grace by Srividya, we witness a symphony of emotions reverberating through our very being. Kalyani’s tender heart, scarred by circumstances beyond her control, envelopes us in a cocoon of empathy.

Also Read: How Thalapthi Redefines the Mainstream Mass Hero

She did what she had to at that moment as a teenage single mother. But the same deed haunts her for the rest of her life. The pain of abandoning her firstborn lives with her even after the years go by. The reunion scene of the mother and son has to be one of the most beautiful and emotional scenes in the history of Indian cinema. Not much is said, but a lot is conveyed in those few minutes.

My favorite scene from Thalapathy


Mani Ratnam’s masterpieces provide a profound exploration of motherhood, delving into its emotional depths with unwavering honesty and artistry. Through Indira, Chitra, and Kalyani, we traverse a landscape where the boundaries of love, sacrifice, and resilience blur. Ratnam’s cinematic canvas immortalizes the multifaceted essence of motherhood, inviting us to partake

Image Courtesy: YouTube

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