Filmmaker Mani Ratnam, believes that it's possible to experiment within the confines of mainstream cinema without being influenced by the number game.
"Within the mainstream cinema, I feel you can experiment and make sensible films. It's possible to tell a story with characters and emotions which are real, genuine, and which need not be over the top," he says.
"For a filmmaker, whether the film is liked, understood or appreciated counts as much as the moolah. I believe the intrinsic value of a film too matters to its creator," he adds. Ratnam says his Tamil film, OK Kanmani, which released on Friday, is an experiment within mainstream cinema.
"It's an urban love story. It deals with the way we look at life and relationships at this point in time. The story is set in Mumbai, and when you watch the film, you understand it's about people away from home who become independent of the rules and regulations of a family," he shares. "It will be a contemporary film on relationships," he says. Over the years, he has earned the title 'king of romance', but he says he really isn't a hardcore romantic. "Whatever film you do, even if it's a children's film, you do with the same amount of sincerity. It doesn't matter which genre you're working in, you try to find an honest relationship within that space, and say if it's the romance genre, within that you have to find a story and characters that resonate with an audience," he adds.
"I think the audience take back and retain only the romance portion from my movies. People assume I'm more comfortable with this genre. But, I think I'm uncomfortable with all the genres because each one is a struggle," he says.
But has his interpretation of romance changed with time? "I'm just reflecting what I think is happening around me. I can understand and see how people in relationships are behaving. I'm looking at it from close quarters. The change has been happening and neither you nor I can stop it. And that change, at some point, has to get reflected in some kind of art form," he says.
His film has music by AR Rahman. The Oscar winner was launched by Mani Ratnam years ago. Since then, both have worked in several films and their collaboration has always resulted in great music.
Ratnam says there's no secret behind their successful combo. "There's no secret to it other than the fact that both of our intentions are kind of similar in the sense that it's not just that we want to make hit songs. Of course, we want to produce chartbusters, but the objective is that the kind of film defines the kind of music. "We look for songs that'll help the story transcend. When we collaborate, we start with a definite direction in which we want to travel and within that, we try and experiment," he says. They have their differences, but Ratnam says it's all part of working as a team.