Roja perhaps doesn't soar the same heights as every other Mani Ratnam film I've seen to date but it's still a strikingly expressive, sensual experience that evokes the feeling of transcendence associated with love. Love the stark juxtaposition of the cold, blue hues of Kashmir juxtaposed with the warm, vibrant orange palette of the rural countryside displayed in the film's opening sequence. This aesthetic dichotomy continues across the film's runtime, the warmth of love contrasted against hate and indifference. The omnipresence of the natural world is a recurring motif that Mani Ratnam uses to elucidate his theme about the supremacy of love in the face of conflict and strife, as the film features a panoply of striking natural vistas that help to elevate the film's aura to near transcendental. Roja may be a bit nationalist and jingoistic but let's be real here, what Hollywood film isn't? The nature of its narrative - the successful city engineer marrying the rural girl - and how it's Roja, a woman from the countryside whose people have largely been forgotten by modernity, who doesn't speak the language or fully understand the circumstances, that inevitably leads to their collective salvation isn't happenstance but a pointed commentary. It's her unwavering perseverance fueled by love that leads to absolution, a striking commentary in which Ratnam's aims seem to be in empowerment for the rural class within Indian society. What remains striking to me is Ratnam's precision when it comes to his cinematic grammar. It is always highly expressive but the way he routinely shows such an astute understanding of when to use various cinematic techniques - from handheld to static, from extremely wide compositions to tight, intimate compositions feels like second nature. Just a phenomenal filmmaker who is quickly becoming a personal favorite of mine.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.