Filmmaker Mani Ratnam is known to be media shy. However, recently at Cinema Paradiso, a DVD rental library where he launched P365 (this means you have the DVD of a new release every day), he could not avoid the media.
With his film Guru doing well at the box office, film-centric questions were top of the agenda. The question that Guru is based on late industrialist Dhirubai Ambani’s life still remains. A strict “No” is his answer.
Doesn’t it irritate him that a subject he has put his heart and soul into is being given a different interpretation? “As a director you have to be ready for such things. It is not really disturbing,” says the filmmaker whose third Hindi film broke the jinx after Dil Se.. and Yuva flopped at the B-O.
We move on to talk about Abhishek Bachchan, for whose career Ratnam’s Yuva proved to be a turning point. And Junior B hasn’t looked back ever since.
<b1>Visibly embarrassed, yet proud of his actor, the director says, “Abhishek is growing as an actor and maturing every day. Guru was a difficult job for him but he has done justice to the character.”
What about Mithun Chakraborthy, who is delighted with his role in Guru? “Oh! It was great fun, but he did have some problems cutting his hair short,” says the filmmaker with his trademark smile.
Ratnam wants to look ahead. “I will be starting Lajjo this year. It’s still at the scripting stage,” he informs about his film with Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor, adding, “I’m not making Mahabharata.”
Ratnam is happy that the film industry did so well last year and hopes “it does better this year too”. However, unlike most of his colleagues, the filmmaker, whose movie Nayakan was India’s official entry at the Academy Awards in 1987, doesn’t seem caught up in the Oscar fever.
“Do we really need Hollywood to give us a stamp of approval? We’re not making films to win Oscars,” he says.
A lot of things seem to be happening in the film industry. So, are we heading in the right direction?
“We are on the verge of a huge change and filmmaking is becoming accessible to a lot of people. The gap between the user and the maker would be much less — it will be like literature. Anyone who wants to can. It’s just that he has to do it,” he concludes. The message is clear.