Mani Ratnam chat
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Mani Ratnam chat

When Mani Ratnam's Tamil film Roja (dubbed in Hindi) released neither he nor audiences expected him to get this big. For it was Ratnam's cinematic vision that changed the way rest of India viewed Tamil film industry. What followed were gems such as Bombay and Dil Se. Read transcript of a chat with him on 22nd February.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2003 17:18 IST

sharan: Why didn't you direct Saathiya too?
Mani_Ratnam: I didn't even direct it part-time. I just directed the Tamil version before. Since I had done it before I didn't want to do it all over again. Instead I did the movie that you are seeing these days.

prajukar: Mani sir, how would you rate Saathiya as compared to Alai Payuthey? Are you satisfied with the film?
Mani_Ratnam: Yes, I am. The director worked with me as an assistant when we did Alai Payuthey.

hAPPYwORLD: What kind of impact do you think your films have had on the general public?
Mani_Ratnam: I don't know. You should tell me.

queen: Nayankan is one of the greatest movies ever produced in India. How was it to make the movie?
Mani_Ratnam: You try do your best. I had a huge advantage as we had someone like Kamal Hassan, which made the job a lot easier. It was as tough as any other film that I have done.

jmugilan: Ram Gopal Varma and you are the two directors who take Indian films to International Standards. What do you think of him?
Mani_Ratnam: There are a lot more who have done it before and a lot more who are doing it now. We still have a long way to go. We have talent, experience and a lot more.

neenachudan: I have heard that you are pretty reserved. Is that true?
Mani_Ratnam: It depends if it's a good looking girl who's asking or not ;-)

Sundar1964: How do you bring out the best in artists like Simran - who has not done any great character roles earlier?
Mani_Ratnam: This is my job. I am paid to direct and you try and do as well as you can.

dinesh2002: I heard your next movie is with four heroes - (Madhavan, Shaam, Srikanth and another one). Is the music by A.R. Rahman?
Mani_Ratnam: Don't believe everything you hear!

laughingbuddha: Would you say Kamal Hassan is a method actor?
Mani_Ratnam: I would just say that he's a very good actor!

tbalaji: What inspired you to start Madras Talkies production house?
Mani_Ratnam: I wanted to direct films and if you need to produce and take risks, that's why you need your own production company. So that's why.

ankurk: You put up a brave face after movies like Bombay landed you in trouble. Do you have any such movies lined up in near future?
Mani_Ratnam: I have movies lined up for future, and I hope that I make it better than what I have done before.

laughingbuddha: Do you think the mainstream Indian audience changed the way they viewed Tamil film industry after you came along?
Mani_Ratnam: No. I think they were always open to new ideas. There were always who were quite good before me and created niche in mainstream. So it was much easier for me to go ahead and a get a chance for what I have been doing.

sridhar_b: Do you have any plans of directing Suhasini Mani Ratnam in any future projects?
Mani_Ratnam: Right now she's directing me at home everyday!

waiting4email: Why are all directors and producers converting Tamil or any other language movies into Hindi movies. Don't they have their own storywriters?
Mani_Ratnam: I think where the story comes from is the starting point. A film is the film.

anithya: Why don't you try an English movie instead like John Woo?
Mani_Ratnam: When Anithya turns a producer and gives me the money, I will do an English film as well.

unag: If Suhasini is not around, may I ask you a question - who is your dream girl?
Mani_Ratnam: She's around. Shhhhhhhh... don't ask.

ankurk: Do you have interest in cricket? Are you supporting the Indian team? Cos that's the hot topic these days.
Mani_Ratnam: I am an Indian. We love two things very much. One is cricket, and the other is movies. I do both.

smita: You are very creative in all the movies. Is creativity an in-born quality or cultivated?
Mani_Ratnam: I don't know. I think like anything else it's both. You should have flair for it and then you have to work very hard for it. Talent could be natural but it doesn't give you anything by itself. You have to work for it.

tbalaji: Dil se was a great movie but didn't do well commercially. How did you react to that? Was there any introspection?
Mani_Ratnam: You win some, you lose some. You just need to keep trying.

sanjay: How did you get the inspiration for Kannathil Muthamittal? It is one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. And how was it to work with Nandita Das?
Mani_Ratnam: Sri Lanka has been at our backdoor for the last 20 years. So it's been there. It's what we are living with and we are going through it everyday. It was great to work with Nandita. She had to learn Tamil and that too the Sri Lankan way. She picked it up very fast.

sushma02: Are you directing the cross-over film called Dragon Fire?
Mani_Ratnam: Dragon Fire is a book which we are trying to convert into screenplay. And if we do it then we can look at it as a project at some point of time.

neenachudan: What would you prefer you son to be - an actor or a director?
Mani_Ratnam: I don't think I have a choice at all. He has a mind of his own and a very strong one. He will do what he wants to do.

sridhar_b: Do you have any plans of making a film on the Cauvery issue?
Mani_Ratnam: No. You don't look at issues and make films out of them. There are so many issues around. Some of the issues fall into place. But you really look for is human stories and that's what I do.

mod2300: You are definitely the best portrayer of relationship between two souls. What is the secret behind this?
Mani_Ratnam: You've made the decision and you're asking me for the secret?

v_vijay22: Why don't you shoot your song sequences abroad?
Mani_Ratnam: Why should I?

v_vijay22: Why do most of your films revolve around issue-based?
Mani_Ratnam: You have to see the rest of my films then.

nandan: Why don't you aim for Hollywood projects like Shekhar Kapoor?
Mani_Ratnam: You don't want me to make films here is it?

sushma02: How do you discover all the awesome locations that come in your movie? Do you really spend a lot of time hunting for locations?
Mani_Ratnam: I think India's full of awesome locations. You have to look a little. When you have a script to shoot, then you have to look for locations. The locations become a very important part.

laughingbuddha: Why do you think Dil Se failed in India but did so well in the UK? Many in the audience (when I saw it) said they had problems with the narrative technique. But when I asked a reviewer in Delhi (with leading newspaper) he said the problem was Shah Rukh Khan...
Mani_Ratnam: I have no idea. I just accepted it and got on with the next film.

hAPPYwORLD: Is your masterpiece not made yet?
Mani_Ratnam: Several!

unag: Why is it that you have been partial to non-Tamil speaking viewers?
Mani_Ratnam: Why am I? I am not.

prajukar: Who is your favourite actor from India? Someone with whom you would love to work with?
Mani_Ratnam: There's so much of talent here. You are surprised to find the wealth of talent.

ansmns: You are an expert in hunting talent. How did you manage to get those child artists in Kannathil Muthamittaal, Anjali etc?
Mani_Ratnam: We had to screen-test. We were just lucky because we got the correct girl for the film. The entire film was dependent upon the girl. She was the first that we tested and she was an absolute delight!

tbalaji: any thrillers on the lines of Alfred Hitchcock?
Mani_Ratnam: Not yet!

jmugilan: First Arvind Swamy, now Madhavan... Who is your next blue-eyed boy?
Mani_Ratnam: Maybe, if we come across somebody, we will.

shakun: Sir, I'd like to thank you for bringing in A.R. Rahman
Mani_Ratnam: If there's somebody with the talent of A.R. Rahman, you don't have to look any further.

ansmns: I have heard your first film was in Malayalam. Why don't you do more films in that language?
Mani_Ratnam: Tamil films are equally acceptable in Kerala. I am more comfortable in Tamil.

smartiee: The actors seem to give amazing performances whenever they are working with you. How do you manage to get the best out of your actors?
Mani_Ratnam: Like I just said it's my job. I am paid to do this. When I am working, the entire team is glued on to the film that we are doing. We like the actor also to be equally involved so then we get to do something which is special.

neenachudan: Name a movie that you have not directed but which is one of your all-time favourite?
Mani_Ratnam: LOL! There are too many films. I can't take them all. It will take all the space in the newspaper!

cutiesona2002: Do you think songs are essential for your films?
Mani_Ratnam: Songs are fun, and exciting. I like them ;-)

sushma02: The first phase of Tamil cinema was far too theatrical. Actors had to over act. People like Mahendran, Balumahendra and you changed that! How did you get such inspiration for your poignant storytelling?
Mani_Ratnam: I think it's not only Tamil films. The way films are being made have changed the world over. There are movies like Mother India have set standards, which people try and reach somewhere close to.

hAPPYwORLD: Who benefitted most from your combination? A.R.Rahman or yourself?
Mani_Ratnam: Myself!

shivrk: What do you think I should do to become a director?
Mani_Ratnam: Go to the film institute.

First Published: Feb 21, 2003 19:41 IST