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For other uses, see Roja (disambiguation).
Roja Poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by K. Balachander (presenter)
Rajam Balachander
Pushpa Kandaswamy
Written by Sujatha Rangarajan (dialogue)
Screenplay by Mani Ratnam
Story by Mani Ratnam
Starring Arvind Swamy
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Santosh Sivan
Edited by Suresh Urs
Distributed by Kavithalayaa Productions
Release dates
  • 15 August 1992 (1992-08-15)
Running time
137 minutes[2]
Country India
Language Tamil

Roja (English: Rose) is a 1992 Indian Tamil romantic thriller film co-written and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Arvind Swamy and Madhoo 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.[3][4] 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).[5]

The film's successful and acclaimed score and soundtrack were composed by A. R. Rahman, who debuted as a film composer 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.[6]


In Srinagar, a Kashmiri terrorist, Wasim Khan (Shiva Rindani), is captured by a team led by Colonel Rayappa (Nassar). In South India, 18-year old[7] Roja (Madhoo) is a simple village girl born and brought up in Sundarapandianpuram in Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu. Roja fervently wishes that her sister (Vaishnavi)'s marriage proposal with Rishi Kumar (Arvind Swamy), a cryptologist working with the RAW of India, 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 marries her cousin.

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, due to the illness of his boss, Rishi is assigned to an army communications center in Baramulla. 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 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), an associate to Wasim Khan, tries to reason with the terrorists, about their misdirected motive for the liberation of Kashmir. 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 sent across the border to Pakistan for training, is shot 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 does not show up. This leads Roja to think that Rishi is dead. The 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 kills 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 escapes from the Indian Army. Rishi and Roja are united once again.



Arvind Swamy made his acting debut in Mani Ratnam's Thalapathi (1991). He was subsequently signed to play the lead role in Roja.[8][9] Actress Aishwarya was initially offered the female lead, but declined it due to date issues. The role went to Madhoo.[10] Ratnam had planned to shoot Roja in Kashmir, but extreme terrorism there forced him to shoot the film in other hill stations resembling it.[11][12] Shooting locations included Ooty,[13] Manali, Himachal Pradesh.[14] [15] The film's cinematographer Santosh Sivan said that a lot of images were written in at the script level. Even in the Kashmir sequences, the audience only sees the snow when Roja sees it for the first time. These things were written into the script.[16] The song "Chinna Chinna Aasai" was shot at Hogenakkal Falls in Dharmapuri and in the Banatheertham falls in Courtallam.[17][18] According to Ratnam, Roja was not originally planned as a political film: "It was a phase India was going through and these things affected me and found their way into my work."[19] Vairamuthu, who was signed as the lyricist, recalled in 2013 that during the story narration phase, he told Ratnam that the film's "tense and action-packed" content was in sharp contrast to the "sober" title.[20]


Main article: Roja (soundtrack)

Box office[edit]

Roja emerged as a sensational hit in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi markets.[21][22]


The film has won the following awards since its release:[4] Madhoo's performance took her close to winning the National Film Award for Best Actress, but she eventually lost to Dimple Kapadia.[23]

1993 National Film Awards (India)

1993 Filmfare Awards South

1993 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards (India)

1993 Shantaram Awards

  • Won – Best Director – Mani Ratnam

1993 Moscow International Film Festival (Russia)

  • Nominated – Golden St. George (Best Film) – Mani Ratnam

Bite the Mango Film Festival (United Kingdom)[24]

  • Featured screening and premiere – Roja

Wangfujing Film Festival (Beijing)[25]

  • Special screening – Roja

Indian Film Week (Moscow)[26]

  • Screening in the category of "From the classics to the contemporary" – Roja

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Roja Release Date|Roja Tamil Movie Releasing Date|A.R.Rahman|Arvind Swamy|Madhu Bala|". 11 May 1992. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  2. ^ The Cinema of Mani Ratnam. Cine Central. p. 23. 
  3. ^ "18th Moscow International Film Festival (1993)". MIFF. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Awards for Roja (1992)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 
  5. ^ Pat Padua. "FROM THE HEART – The Films of Mani Ratnam". Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Corliss, Richard (12 February 2005). "Best Soundtracks – ALL TIME 100 MOVIES – TIME". Time. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Rangan 2012, p. 128.
  8. ^ "Arvind in Kadal". The Times Of India. 
  9. ^ "Mani joins with Arvind Swamy again | CineBuzz – Movies". ChennaiOnline. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "Madhu not first choice for Mani Ratnam's 'Roja'". The Times Of India. 12 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Raina, Muzaffar (13 May 2008). "Valley back on silver screen". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 
  12. ^ "It's lights, camera, action in Kashmir". The Times Of India. 21 April 2008. 
  13. ^ "An evening in Ooty". The Times Of India. 19 October 2008. 
  14. ^ "The Telegraph - Calcutta : Metro". Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Want to travel to where Hrithik and Preity sang Agar Main Kahoon?". Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  16. ^ Udhav Naig. "Behind the cameraman". The Hindu. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  17. ^ S. Aishwarya. "Indian locations provide stunning backdrops for film shoots". The Hindu. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  18. ^ "The Roja falls". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  19. ^ Melwani, Lavina (26 September 2015). "Up close and personal with Mani Ratnam". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "Tamil Movie reviews -". Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  21. ^ "Maniratnam's 'Roja' wins acclaim for its patriotic theme and good music". Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  22. ^ " - Box-Office Records And Collections - Films Released In 1992 & Their BO Success". Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  23. ^ K., Vijayan (14 August 1993). "Catchy songs pep up Gentleman's story". The New Straits Times. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "King of Bollywood at the Bite the Mango film festival". Sify. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  25. ^ "A gold mine waiting to be tapped". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  26. ^ "Russian belles swoon over Big B". The Times of India. 10 October 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]