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Unaroo - (Awakening), mal. 1984, was the second movie of Maniratnam after his debut in Kannada with 'Pallavi Anu Pallavi'. May be Maniratnam was testing waters before trying in (relatively) high budget in Tamil. To be really frank if somebody misses the opening credits, it could have been passed off as a movie directed by any mainstream malayalam director. The story telling technique was so simplistic and sincere that was the typical style of malayalam story telling in the 80's. And the movie was so devoid of technical advancements which Maniratnam is famous for but the climax was typical Maniratnam's - superficial solution to serious issues. 'Unaroo' (Awakening) is about the corrupt communist leaders exploitting the working class and it was bold considering the time it was made and that too in the state where communists once ruled - Kerala.

The movie, despite an amateurish attempt, had honourable intentions - how the trade unions in Kerala contributed in degrading the industrial advancements of the state. The movie opens with Mohanlal approaching so many places for some work but refused because he didn't belong to any union. The screenplay empathises with the capitalists who often find themselves in the receiving end and how the 'hopeful' workers are conned by the cunning Trade union leaders who grow at the expense of the welfare of the labourers. The Oppositoion plans a statewide hartal to paralyse & dismiss the ruling government with the aid of corrupt Trade Union leaders. A lot of educated youth were deprived of job in this political mess. At the end of the movie the workers realise that the human / compassion overrides the workers law & union. Don't know how & why in Maniratnam's topical movies things change for good in a split of second.

{mosimage}This movie is completely character oriented that there is literally no hero / heroine as such. Still if you want to 'calssify' Mohanlal can be called as the hero and Sabitha Anand is the heroine because she is his love intrest. But it is the Sukumaran (father of actor Prithviraj) who plays the corrupt Trade Union leader who walks away with terrible memory recall, followed by Sivachandran (who was more identified as actor Lakshmi's husband). The enormously talented Mohanlal doesn't have much to do in this movie so are the female leads Sabitha and Unni Mary (Deepa in 'Tamil').

Like said before the movie had little / no technical brilliance but that doesn't undermine the talents who had worked in this movie - camera work by Ramachandra Babu (elder brother of highest paid cinematopgrapher Ravi K Chandran), editing by B. Lenin and ofcourse music my Mani's then constant composer - "Maestro" Illayaraja. There are just three songs, as per malayalam formula, and for one song IR had reworked the "Roja ondru muttham ketknum neram" from Komberi Mookkan.


{mosimage}On the whole Unaroo is neither great not bad to write off. But it is clearly evident that Maniratnam had made this movie to learn the art rather than a honest attempt. May be thats the reason he never acknowledged this movie in any of his interviews. I am yet to catch up with Mani's debut movie - Pallavi Anu Pallavi in Kannada and hopefully I should get that soon.

{oshits} readers for this review about Maniratnam's second attempt on movies