Iruvar (English: The Duo) is a 1997 Indian Tamil political movie co-written, directed and produced by Mani Ratnam. The film which is loosely based on the relationship between cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu, features Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai, Gouthami, Revathi, Tabu and Nassar. Rai, a former Miss World, made her screen debut through this film in dual characters. The film had a very successful score and soundtrack composed by A. R. Rahman and the cinematography was by Santosh Sivan. It was dubbed and released in Malayalam in the same name and Telugu as Iddaru.
The film was showcased in the Masters section at the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was a critical success and won the Best Film award at the Belgrade International Film Festival and two National Film Awards. In 2012, Iruvar was included by critic Rachel Dwyer in the 2012 British Film Institute Sight and Sound 1000 greatest films of all time which is considered to be one of the most respected film polls all over the world.
Set in the 1950s, the film begins with Anandan (Mohanlal), a struggling actor, seeking opportunities which will give him a big break in the film industry. Under his uncle’s help, Anandan is given an opportunity to audition for the lead role in a forthcoming film. He arrives in the studio and practices his combat skills with sword props provided on the sets while waiting for the director and the crew. At this, he meets Tamizhselvan (Prakash Raj), a small time writer who enters the studio with some sarcastic poetry and this prompts both into a little debate. The debate turns into a mutual respect into each other, and impressed by Tamizhselvan’s skills, Anandan requests Tamizhselvan to write dialogues for him to recite during the audition.
With the help of Tamizhselvan’s dialogues, Anandan floors the director during the audition and is hired as the hero of the film. Anandan’s friendship with Tamizhselvan grows as a result, and Anandan is introduced to Tamizhselvan’s political party which is led by Velu Annachi (Nassar). He grows to the party’s ideology as time passes by. Anandan then marries a village belle Pushpa (Aishwarya Rai) while Tamizhselvan marries another village girl (Revathy) under the supervision of the party leader. When Anandan returns to Madras, he is greeted by the bad news that the production of the film has been cancelled due to financial difficulties. As Tamizhselvan jubilates at his party’s victory, a depressed Anandan is forced to return to old ways of playing extras in the movies. He even loses motivation and doesn’t act some parts out well, causing further demotion in his roles. Anandan also sends Pushpa back to her village due to his financial difficulties. At one of the shootings, Anandan is greeted by his mother and uncle with the news that Pushpa has died due to a freak accident in her house. Tamizhselvan travels down to console a grief-stricken Anandan of his wife’s death.
Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by Mani Ratnam & G. Srinivasan
Written by Suhasini & Mani Ratnam
Starring Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai, Gouthami, Tabu, Revathi
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Santosh Sivan
Edited by Suresh Urs
Production Madras Talkies
Distributed by Madras Talkies
Release dates 14 January 1997
Running time 158 minutes