Believe it or not, Mani Ratnam’s classic Mouna Ragam, which has evergreen songs by maestro Ilayaraja, has completed 30 years of hitting the screens.
Mouna Ragam, released on August 15, 1986, not only provided an insight on issues faced by couples, but also raised many questions such as the plight and perception of divorce and how our society needed to look at the wishes and desires of a woman.
Written and directed by Mani Ratnam, and produced by G Venkateswaran, the film narrates the life of Divya Chandramouli (Revathi), who is robbed of her carefree existence when she reluctantly marries Chandrakumar (Mohan).
Divya does not wish to be married as she is still grieving over the shooting death of her former lover Manohar (Karthik). The rest of the story follows Divya’s inner conflict between holding on to her past or coming to terms with the present and making a life with Chandrakumar.
Mouna Ragam’s development began when Ratnam wrote a short story titled “Divya”, while he was making his debut film Pallavi Anu Pallavi (1983). As the script developed he renamed it. He did not plan to film the story until he finished writing it, but he could not start actual production on it until after his fourth film, Idaya Kovil (1985), was released.
Mouna Ragam was filmed mainly in Chennai; additional filming took place in Delhi and Agra. The soundtrack album and background score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja with lyrics by Vaali; cinematography was handled by P. C. Sreeram, and the art director was Thotta Tharani. The film was jointly edited by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan.
Mouna Ragam was released on 15 August 1986, India’s Independence Day. Despite opening to modest audiences, it became a box office success, running for over 175 days in theatres.
The film was critically acclaimed and won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, while Ratnam won the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director.
Mouna Ragam was dubbed in Telugu under the same title and was released on 14 February 1987; this version was also a commercial success. The film was remade in Hindi in 1992 as Kasak, with Rishi Kapoor and Neelam Kothari in the lead roles.