Last weekend, I was watching Maniratnam's 'Thalapathi' probably the 30th time. Shobana gets engaged to the collector Arvind Swamy. She comes to explain her situation to Rajini. But the heart broken Rajini shouts at her and asks her to leave the place. As she leaves, Rajini (with the quintessential sun setting behind him) turns and looks sympathetically at helpless Shobana. The shot of Rajini looking at her lingers for a while. Raaja lifts baton and instructs the string section to go 'Naan Unai Neenga Maataen, Neenginaal Thoonga Maattaen, Saernthathae Nam Jeevanae, Sundari', a pause (can be read as a lump in my throat) and flute takes over to sing 'Kannal Oru Sethi'. A Masterpause it is.
Was Maniratnam aware that Raaja would do something in there, if he allows the shot to linger for a while? I can't imagine the emotions in this scene being conveyed by anything else but Raaja's music. There is of course that mild shake we hear in Rajini's voice as he says the final 'Po' to Shobana, but it is Raaja's music which transfers that mild shake into an earth shattering quake. Hail Illayaraja.