It’s been 22 years since Iruvar hit the screens. It is a story which focuses on the life of two iconic politicians MGR and Karunanidhi. The fact that he chose to write a story about these two politicians itself is a daring effort. Right from Mohanlal’s irresistible aura to Prakash Raj’s pitch-perfect transformation on screen, everything was on point. This was the film that gave us the first glimpse of the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai. He splits the film into interesting anecdotes without being too judgmental. Iruvar was true to the real-life friendship between the two leaders. Though the film was not noticed much when it released today it is revered as a memorable classic.
It is perhaps the most difficult Mohanlal role to date. He had to play the former chief minister MG Ramachandran with his heavy Kerala accent. But you forget the fact that the man is a Malayalee once he comes on screen, He’s earnest, charming and exudes power and ambition in every frame. That he has to pit himself against Prakash Raj is the cherry on the cake as they compete and outdo each other in every frame. Mohanlal starts off as an unwilling participant but slowly the self-realization of what he means to the masses turns into a burning desire which ultimately leads to his unprecedented rise to the top. Mohanlal breathes life into the role with absolute conviction making it a modern-day political classic.
Mohanlal and Prakash Raj compete with each other in acting and screen presence. It must be noted that Iruvar was Aishwarya Rai’s first film and she was fabulous even back in those days. The songs by ARR were chartbusters as Mani Ratnam delivers an all-time classic with ease. Fittingly Prakash Raj won the national award for playing Tamizh Selvan aka Kalaingar. Iruvar was included by critic Rachel Dwyer in the 2012 British Film Institute Sight and Sound 1000 greatest films of all time. It was also the first film in which Prakash Raj dubbed for himself