The Best Old Movies On a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, July 29-August 4


Roja (1992)
Directed by Mani Ratnam
In this epic Indian musical melodrama (whose score was composed by A.R. Rahman), a young Tamil woman named Roja (Madhoo) unexpectedly marries her sister’s suitor (Arvind Swamy), falls in love, and strives to save his life from Kashmiri extremists. “In troubled areas there had been more than a few kidnappings of civilians and engineers who were visiting for work,” says Ratnam, who will attend the Museum of the Moving Image screening of Roja, and the weekend’s subsequent screenings of his other films. “In one instance, the wife of an abducted engineer made a public appeal through the newspapers for his militant captors to release him. Her letter was Roja’s seed. I also drew upon a famous old Indian folk tale called Satyavani Savitri in which a saint’s wife pleads with the Lord of Death for her husband’s life. There was strangely a great emotional similarity between the condition of Savitri and that of the engineer’s wife, a connection out of which Roja grew. I do not have a predetermined workflow. My scripts and films tend to flow out of the things that hold my focus at that particular phase of my life. In that sense, Roja proved integral to my work throughout the 1990s.” Aaron Cutler (July 31, 7pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s Ratnam retrospective)


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