|Directed by||Mani Ratnam|
|Produced by||K. Balachander
|Written by||Mani Ratnam
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Edited by||Suresh Urs|
|Distributed by||Kavithalayaa Productions
|Running time||127 minutes|
Roja (English: Rose) is a 1992 Tamil-language Indian political drama-romance film co-written and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Arvind Swamy and Madhubala in the lead roles. The film was subsequently dubbed in Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Telugu.
The film won three National Film Awards, including Best Film on National Integration, catapulting Ratnam to national acclaim. The film also gained international acclaim with its nomination for Best Film at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival. The film was later re-released for international audiences in light of the growing fear of terrorist attacks across the world. It is the first in Ratnam's trilogy of films that depict human relationships against a background of Indian politics, including Bombay (1995) and Dil Se.. (1998).
The film's successful and acclaimed score and soundtrack were composed by A. R. Rahman, who debuted in Tamil cinema as a music director with this film. He won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, Filmfare Award for Best Music Director - Tamil and the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director for his work in his debut film. This soundtrack is among the "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time listed by TIME magazine, issued in 2005.
The film begins with a few army men checking the houses in the night and lighting the torches for the light in the society. In Srinagar, a Kashmiri terrorist, Wasim Khan, is arrested by a team led by Colonel Rayappa (Nassar). In South India, Roja (Madhubala) is a simple village girl born and brought up in Sundarapandianpuram in Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu. Roja fervently wishes that her sister's (Vaishnavi) marriage proposal with Rishi Kumar (Arvind Swamy), a top cryptologist working with the Indian government, goes smoothly. Unknown to her and her family, Roja’s sister is in love with the son of her paternal aunt.
When Rishi wishes to speak to Roja’s sister alone, she gathers enough courage to convey this and politely asks him to reject her in front of her parents, to which he obliges. To everyone’s surprise Rishi requests Roja's hand in marriage instead. Being unaware of her sister's love affair, Roja is not willing to accept Rishi's proposal as she believes that he is the best match for her sister but she marries Rishi, and the couple go to live in Madras while her sister is married to her aunt's son.
Initially Roja does not like what Rishi did, but when she learns of her sister's love affair and consequent rejection of Rishi, she apologizes and starts seeing him in a new light. Love blossoms, and life is blissful for the couple for a short while. Meanwhile, Rishi is assigned a posting at an army communications center in Kashmir. The couple find themselves in a beautiful yet alien land. Roja's world turns upside down when Rishi is abducted by terrorists whose agenda is to separate Kashmir from India and to free their leader Wasim Khan from judicial custody.
Faced with the daunting task of rescuing her husband, Roja runs from pillar to post, pleading with politicians and the military for help. Further complicating matters is the communication gap: She can't speak their language, and they can't speak hers. Meanwhile Rishi, held captive by a group of terrorists led by Liaqat (Pankaj Kapur), tries to reason with them. Liaqat’s sister shows a little compassion towards him. Initially, when Roja’s efforts fail, the Indian government denies any negotiations with the terrorists for the release of Rishi in the media.
The angered terrorists burn an Indian flag. Rishi risks his life to put out the fire and shows the terrorist how much the country means to him, a regular citizen. When Liaqat’s younger brother, who with few other youths from his village are sent across the border to Pakistan for training, is shot down by the Pakistan Army, Liaqat’s strong belief is shaken, but he still manages to convince himself of the cause. Consequently, Roja’s efforts to apprise the politicians of her suffering and pain are successful as a minister pities her and offers to help.
Much to the chagrin of Colonel Rayappa, the government decides to release Wasim Khan in exchange for Rishi. Rishi, not wanting to be used as a pawn to release a dangerous terrorist, gets help from the sympathetic Liaqat’s sister and escapes — with Liaqat and his men chasing him. Colonel Rayappa, Roja and other Army officers get to the hostage exchange spot with Wasim Khan, but Liaqat doesn’t show up. This leads Roja to think that Rishi is dead. Army locks Wasim Khan up in the prison.
Rishi has managed to get close to the exchange spot on his own after evading the terrorists. During his escape, Rishi kill two terrorists. Liaqat catches up with him and holds him at gun point. Rishi reasons with Liaqat further and convinces him that his war is immoral. Liaqat lets Rishi go and he goes to the exchange spot. Liaqat surrenders to the Indian Army. Rishi and Roja are united once again.
- Arvind Swamy as Rishikumar
- Madhubala as Roja
- Nasser as Colonel Rayappa
- Janagaraj as Achu Maharaj
- Pankaj Kapoor as Liaqat
- Vaishnavi as Shenbagam
- Sathyapriya as Rishikumar's mother
- Sattanathapuram Venkataraman as Rishikumar's boss
Arvind Swamy, who debuted in Mani Ratnam's previous film Thalapathi (1991) was subsequently signed to play the lead role in Roja. Actress Aishwarya was initially offered the female lead, but was later replaced by Madhubala. Ratnam had planned to shoot Roja in Kashmir, but extreme terrorism there led him to shoot the film in other hill stations resembling it. like Ooty.
The film has won the following awards since its release:
1993 National Film Awards (India)
- Won – Silver Lotus Award – Best Music Director – A. R. Rahman
- Won – Silver Lotus Award – Best Lyricist – Vairamuthu
- Won – Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration
- Won – Filmfare Best Movie Award (Tamil) – Roja
- Won – Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil) – A. R. Rahman
1993 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards (India)
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Director – Mani Ratnam
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Cinematographer – Santosh Sivan
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director – A. R. Rahman
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Female Playback – Minmini
- Won – Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize – Madhubala
1993 Shantaram Awards
- Won – Best Director – Mani Ratnam
1993 Moscow International Film Festival (Russia)
- Nominated – Golden St. George (Best Film) – Mani Ratnam
- Featured screening and premiere – Roja
- Special screening – Roja
- Screening in the category of "From the classics to the contemporary" – Roja
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