Cinema from the Subcontinent
India / 1997 / Tamil dialogue with English subtitles / Colour / 35 mm / 113 minutes
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The Duo is a compelling mix of Mani Ratnam's Familiar themes of power, politics, love, betrayal and life in the fast lane, all set in the heartland of Tamil culture. Its story follows a struggling actor, Anandan (South India's Superstar Mohanlal). When he meets poet, screenwriter and politician Selvam (Prakash Raj), a deep mutual friendship forms, driven by their constant competitiveness. Selvam becomes a key figure in local politics; Anandan becomes a huge star. The film shifts its focus from one to the other, embracing marriages, deaths, love affairs and betrayals. Familiar events and personages from Tamil Nadu's heady world of politics merge with the film world, which is vividly portrayed with sophisticated use of musical numbers and interweaved narrative threads. One daring song and dance sequence is seen as part of a film-within-a-film, then as one being shot on set in its own right, and finally fragmented into the main action of The Duo. The film marked the big-screen debut of Aishwarya Rai.


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