Roja (transl. Rose) is a 1992 Indian Tamil-language romantic thriller film written and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Arvind Swami and Madhoo in the lead roles. The theme of the film is based on the relationship between Savitri and Satyavan of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. The film was also dubbed in Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Telugu languages.
|Directed by||Mani Ratnam|
|Produced by||K. Balachander|
|Written by||Mani Ratnam|
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Edited by||Suresh Urs|
|Distributed by||Kavithalayaa Productions|
The film won three National Film Awards, including Best Film on National Integration, catapulting Ratnam to national acclaim. The film also gained international acclaim with its nomination for Best Film at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival. The film was later re-released for international audiences in light of the growing fear of terrorist attacks across the world. It is the first in Ratnam's trilogy of films that depict human relationships against a background of Indian politics, including Bombay (1995) and Dil Se.. (1998).
A.R.Rahman debuted as a film composer with this film. He won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, Filmfare Award for Best Music Director - Tamil and the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director for his work. This soundtrack is among the "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time listed by TIME magazine, issued in 2005.
In Srinagar, a Kashmiri terrorist, Wasim Khan, is captured by a team led by Colonel Rayappa. In South India, 18-year old Roja is a simple village girl born and brought up in Sundarapandiapuram in Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu. Roja fervently wishes that her sister Shenbagam's marriage proposal with Rishikumar, a cryptologist working with the R.A.W. of India, goes smoothly. Unknown to her and her family, Shenbagam is in love with the son of her paternal aunt.
When Rishi wishes to speak to Shenbagam alone, she gathers enough courage to convey this and politely asks him to reject her in front of her parents, to which he obliges. To everyone’s surprise Rishi requests Roja's hand in marriage instead. Being unaware of Shenbagam's love affair, Roja is not willing to accept Rishi's proposal as she believes that he is the best match for Shenbagam but she marries Rishi, and the couple go to live in Madras while Shenbagam marries her cousin.
Initially Roja does not like what Rishi did, but when she learns of Shenbagam's love affair and consequent rejection of Rishi, she apologises and starts seeing him in a new light. Love blossoms, and life is blissful for the couple for a short while. Meanwhile, due to the illness of his Chief, Rishi is assigned to an army communications centre in Baramulla to intercept military intelligence. The couple find themselves in a beautiful yet alien land. Roja's world turns upside down when Rishi is abducted by terrorists whose agenda is to separate Kashmir from India and free their leader, Wasim Khan, from judicial custody.
Faced with the daunting task of rescuing her husband, Roja runs from pillar to post, pleading with politicians and the military for help. Further complicating matters is the communication gap: She can't speak their language, and they can't speak hers. Meanwhile, Rishi, held captive by a group of terrorists led by Liaqat, an associate to Wasim Khan, tries to reason with the terrorists, about their misdirected motive for the liberation of Kashmir. Liaqat's sister shows a little compassion towards him. Initially, when Roja’s efforts fail, the Indian government denies any negotiations with the terrorists for the release of Rishi in the media.
The angered terrorists attempt to burn an Indian flag. Rishi risks his life to put out the fire and shows the terrorist how much the country means to him, a regular citizen. When Liaqat’s younger brother, who with a few other youths from his village was sent across the border to Pakistan for training, is shot by the Pakistan Army, Liaqat’s strong belief is shaken, but he still manages to convince himself of the cause. Consequently, Roja’s efforts to apprise the politicians of her suffering and pain are successful as a minister pities her and offers to help.
Much to the chagrin of Rayappa, the government decides to release Wasim Khan in exchange for Rishi. Rishi, not wanting to be used as a pawn to release a dangerous terrorist, gets help from the sympathetic Liaqat’s sister and escapes — with Liaqat and his men chasing him. Rayappa, Roja and other army officers get to the hostage exchange spot with Wasim Khan, but Liaqat does not show up. The Army locks Wasim Khan up in the prison.
Rishi has managed to get close to the exchange spot on his own after evading the terrorists. During his escape, Rishi subdues two terrorists. Liaqat catches up with him and holds him at gun point. Rishi reasons with Liaqat further and convinces him that his war is immoral. Liaqat lets Rishi go and he goes to the exchange spot. Liaqat escapes from the Indian Army. Rishi and Roja are united once again.
- Arvind Swami as Rishikumar
- Madhoo as Roja
- Nassar as Colonel Rayappa
- Janagaraj as Achu Maharaj
- Pankaj Kapur as Liaqat
- Shiva Rindani as Wasim Khan
- Vaishnavi as Shenbagam
- Sathyapriya as Rishikumar's mother
- Vatsala Rajagopal as Roja's paternal grandmother
- S.Ve. Venkataraman as Chandramoorthy, Rishikumar's Chief & RAW official
- C. K. Saraswathi as one of the village seniors (cameo appearance)
- Raju Sundaram (Item number – Rukkumani Rukkumani)
On 28 June 1991, K. Doraiswamy, an executive of the Indian Oil Corporation, was kidnapped by Kashmiri militants and put in captivity for two months. This inspired Mani Ratnam to make the film Roja. Doraiswamy's wife was fighting for his release, and according to Ratnam, it was her plight that the film was based on.
During the making of Anjali (1990), Ratnam told actor and director Kitty the outline of Roja and offered him to direct the film. Kitty declined, as he wanted to do something of his own. As Ratnam was telling him the outline, the subject became more crystallised. Kitty did not pick it up and when filmmaker K. Balachander asked Ratnam, he told him the outline. All the developments happened after that. It was Balachander who approached Ratnam to make a film for his banner. As Balachander was the inspiration and the reason for Ratnam entering Tamil films, when he asked him to make a film for his banner, Ratnam wanted it to be one of the best films they had produced. Ratnam was keen that it needed to be of Balachander's standard. Balachander instantly approved the outline of the film when Ratnam narrated. However, he disliked the title Roja (transl. Rose) as he felt it sounded similar to the name of a brand of crushed betel nut. Ratnam thought the title represented Kashmir because "the rose is something beautiful but with thorns". To satisfy Balachander, he suggested another title Irudhi Varai (transl. Till the end), but Balachander preferred Roja, which was finalised.
Roja was the first film for which Ratnam used a Steadicam, in the shot that introduces the terrorists' hideout to the audiences. The film was made on a shoestring budget. The technicians worked for less money with the understanding that the film would also be sold for less money. It was not thought of as something that would work on a big scale. The film was composed mostly of newcomers, a new music director, and it was about Kashmir which, according to Ratnam, not much was known to Tamil people at that time. He called the film "a bit of an experiment". It is also the first in Ratnam's trilogy of films that depict human relationships against a background of Indian politics, including Bombay (1995) and Dil Se.. (1998). Roja is a contemporary adaptation of the story of Savitri and Satyavan. According to Ratnam, it was not originally planned as a political film: "It was a phase India was going through and these things affected me and found their way into my work."
Arvind Swamy made his acting debut in Ratnam's Thalapathi (1991). He was subsequently signed to play the lead role in Roja. Actress Aishwarya was initially offered the female lead, but declined it due to date issues. The role went to Madhoo. Aishwarya later revealed that she deeply regretted that decision, which was made by her grandmother against her will, for a Telugu film which was later cancelled. Ratnam approached Karisma Kapoor to play a Kashmiri girl, but he considered her "far too expensive for a Tamil film". Vaishnavi was cast as Roja's sister Shenbagam, and Raju Sundaram appeared in the song "Rukmini".
Ratnam had planned to shoot Roja in Kashmir, but extreme terrorism there forced him to shoot the film in other hill stations resembling it. Shooting locations included Coonoor, Ooty, and Manali, Himachal Pradesh. The film's cinematographer Santosh Sivan said that a lot of images were written in at the script level. Even in the Kashmir sequences, the audience only sees the snow when Roja sees it for the first time. These things were written into the script. The song "Chinna Chinna Aasai" was shot at Hogenakkal Falls in Dharmapuri and in the Banatheertham falls in Courtallam. Shakti Singh dubbed for Arvind Swamy in the Hindi version of the film, while Madhoo dubbed for herself. The whole film was completed in less than 60 days. The final length of the film was 3,750 metres (12,300 ft).
Writing for the magazine Jump Cut Kumudan Maderya noted that Roja celebrates "the middle-class yuppie hero’s nationalistic fervor" and positions the "anti-national communalist terrorists in Kashmir" as key threats to India as a whole. Vairamuthu, who was signed as the lyricist, felt the film's "tense and action-packed" content was in sharp contrast to the "poetic" title.
Roja was released on 15 August 1992. In August 2015, it was screened at the 2015 London Indian Film Festival, in the retrospective series Politics as Spectacle: The Films of Mani Ratnam, along with Bombay and Dil Se.
Roja received positive reception for its patriotic themes. On 26 September 1992, K. Vijayan of New Straits Times wrote, "Under [Mani Ratnam]'s direction, [Arvind] and [Madhoo] gave their best ... The excellent photography by Santhosh Sivan [who was also the cameraman for Thalapathi] makes us appreciate the beauty we take for granted in the villages. The snow-capped mountains and flower-covered valleys of Kashmir are also an eyeful." Writing for The Indian Express, Malini Mannath called Roja an "Indianised" version of the television film Held Hostage (1991), based on the kidnapping of journalist Jerry Levin whose rescue was organised by his wife. She praised Arvind Swamy's performance, calling him "dignified and natural". She criticised Madhoo's performance in the scenes where Roja pleads for her husband's rescue, saying, "Her tremulous whisper praying for help, sounds contrived". She also felt that Pankaj Kapoor looked "lost in his role", but lauded the cinematography by Santosh Sivan and the editing by Suresh Urs. T. N. Seshan, then the Chief Election Commissioner of India declared, "This is a film that every Indian should see."
Roja emerged a commercial success in the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi markets.
- Won – Silver Lotus Award – Best Music Director – A. R. Rahman
- Won – Silver Lotus Award – Best Lyricist – Vairamuthu
- Won – Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration
- Won – Filmfare Best Movie Award (Tamil) – Roja
- Won – Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil) – A. R. Rahman
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Director – Mani Ratnam
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor – Arvind Swamy
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director – A. R. Rahman
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize – Madhoo
1993 Shantaram Awards
- Won – Best Director – Mani Ratnam
- Nominated – Golden St. George (Best Film) – Mani Ratnam
- Featured screening and premiere – Roja
- Special screening – Roja
- Screening in the category of "From the classics to the contemporary" – Roja
- The Cinema of Mani Ratnam. Cine Central. p. 23.
- Rangan 2012, p. 128.
- Khayal, Ghulam Nabi (21 August 1991). "Kashmiri militants free Indian official held for 54 days". United Press International. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- Gaur, Meenu (2013). "The Roja Debate and the Limits of Secular Nationalism". Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-19665-2.
- Jain, Madhu (31 January 1994). "Guns and roses". India Today. Archived from the original on 17 September 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
- Rangan 2012, p. 124.
- Rangan 2012, p. 125.
- Rangan 2012, pp. 123-124.
- Rangan 2012, p. 112.
- Rangan 2012, p. 131.
- Pillai, Sreedhar (29 June 2008). "Tryst with terrorism". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "'When you start making films for commerce alone, you start getting into problems'". Rediff.com. 4 April 1997. Archived from the original on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
- Rangan 2012, p. 126.
- Melwani, Lavina (26 September 2015). "Up close and personal with Mani Ratnam". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Sashidhar, A. S. (21 December 2012). "Arvind in Kadal". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- "Madhu not first choice for Mani Ratnam's 'Roja'". The Times of India. 12 July 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- 'റോജ കണ്ടു തിരിച്ചെത്തി ഞാന് ചെരുപ്പെടുത്ത് എന്നെ തന്നെ അടിച്ചു' [I slapped myself with a footwear after watching Roja]. Mathrubhumi (in Malayalam). 7 May 2018. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
- Mohammed, Khalid (January 1994). "Mani Matters". Filmfare. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- Vijayan, K. (26 September 1992). "Superb, Uncensored Songs Make Roja A Splendid Movie". New Straits Times. p. 24. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016.
- Rajitha (4 December 2001). "Dancer in the dark". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
- Raina, Muzaffar (13 May 2008). "Valley back on silver screen". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "It's lights, camera, action in Kashmir". The Times of India. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "20 days schedule for Mani Ratnam's next in Nilgiris". Sify. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
- "An evening in Ooty". The Economic Times. 18 April 2016. 19 October 2008. Archived from the original on 12 January 2015.
- "Kajol mesmerises you". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- "Want to travel to where Hrithik and Preity sang Agar Main Kahoon?". India Today. 19 November 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Naig, Udhav (28 June 2014). "Behind the cameraman". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Aishwarya, S. (3 July 2010). "Indian locations provide stunning backdrops for film shoots". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Simhan, T. E. Raja (29 February 2008). "The Roja falls". The Hindu Business Line. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
- Chandara, Anupama (15 November 1995). "Started by Roja and Jurassic Park, dubbing for Hollywood blockbusters becomes big business". India Today. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- Ramnath, Nandini (22 March 2016). "'The Jungle Book' in Hindi is Hollywood's latest attempt to go local". Scroll.in. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
- Rangan 2012, p. 133.
- Menon, Vishal (19 August 2017). "Greener than the greenest grass: Santosh Sivan and 'Roja'". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- "'ROJA' (Celluloid)". Central Board of Film Certification. 14 August 1992. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
- "Rage against the state: historicizing the "angry young man" in Tamil cinema by Kumuthan Maderya, text version". www.ejumpcut.org. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "Vairamuthu compares Panivizhum Malarvanam with Roja". The Times of India. 30 April 2013. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- "Roja". The Indian Express. 15 August 1992. p. 10.
- "Dealing with morality in a changing India: Mani Ratnam speaks dil se". Firstpost. 14 August 2015. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
- Mannath, Malini (21 August 1992). "Tryst with terrorists". The Indian Express. p. 7.
- "Bombay: The Making of the Most Controversial film of the Decade". Sunday. 2–8 April 1995. p. 76.
- Corliss, Richard (12 February 2005). "All-TIME 100 Movies — Roja". Time. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "'Roja' on Time magazine's 10 best OST list". Daily News & Analysis. 6 November 2007. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "40th National Film Festival" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. 1993. pp. 34, 52, 78. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- Vijayan, K. (14 August 1993). "Catchy songs pep up Gentleman's story". The New Straits Times. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Data India. Press Institute of India. 1993. p. 804. Archived from the original on 26 June 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
- The International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002. Taylor & Francis Group. 2002. p. 420. ISBN 9781857431612. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- Rangan 2012, p. 291.
- "18th Moscow International Film Festival (1993)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 3 April 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "King of Bollywood at the Bite the Mango film festival". Sify. 14 September 2004. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "A gold mine waiting to be tapped". The Hindu. 22 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
- "Russian belles swoon over Big B". The Times of India. Press Trust of India. 10 October 2003. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.