Mani Ratnam

  • Director, Writer, Producer, Executive Producer, Screenplay, Dialogue Writer

Jun 02, 1956  in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Also Known as: Gopalaratnam Subramaniam, Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam, Manirathnam

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Famous for making films with a strong socio-political theme, Mani Ratnam is an Indian director and producer, who blurred the lines between parallel and commercial cinema in the Tamil movie industry. He made his directorial debut with the Kannada film, Pallavi Anu Pallavi (1987) which won him the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Screenplay. However, what catapulted him to stardom was the smash hit Nayakan (1987). The film ended up winning three National Film awards apart from being included in Time magazine's All-time Greatest Movies list. He then helmed Geethanjali (1989), Thalapathi (1991), Roja (1992), Bombay (1995) and Dil Se (1998). Dil Se starring Shah Rukh Khan also won a special award at the Berlin International Film Festival. Over the years, Mani has delivered a string of hits including Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Saathiya (2002), Yuva (2004), Guru (2007), and Kadal (2013).

Early Life
Born in Madurai to film producer Ratnam Iyer, Mani Ratnam graduated with an MBA degree from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. His brothers G. Venkateswaran and G. Srinivasan are also film producers. The cinematic background paved the way for Mani's entry into films.

Personal Life
Mani Ratnam tied the knot with the celebrated South Indian actress, Suhasini, in 1988. The couple has a son Nandhan, born in 1992.

Movie Career
As a Director
Mani Ratnam made his directorial debut with the Anil Kapoor and Lakshmi starrer Kannada language movie Pallavi Anu Pallavi. Although the movie bombed at the box office, Mani Ratnam bagged the Karnataka State Film Awards for Best Screenplay. He then made his Malayalam movie debut with Unaru, which was also a flop. His subsequent directorial ventures were Tamil films Pagal Nilavu (1985) and Idaya Kovil (1985), which again failed to impress the cinema goers. After giving a string of flops, Ratnam finally tasted commercial success with the romantic drama Mouna Ragam (1986). The movie starring Mohan and Revathi proved to be a major milestone in Ratnam’s career, as he took home his first Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director.

His subsequent film Nayakan starring Kamal Haasan was India's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988. The movie was roughly inspired by real-life Bombay underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar and was included by TIME magazine in its list of "All-Time 100 Best Films". Post this, Ratnam, directed Akkineni Nagarjuna and Girija Shettar in his first Telugu film Geethanjali (1989). A romantic drama, the film established Nagarjuna as the heartthrob of Andhra film industry. In 1991, Ratnam helmed the Tamil crime drama Thalapathi, starring Rajinikanth and Mammootty. The movie was a blockbuster hit and gained much attention as it was the last collaboration between Ratnam and the Tamil music composer Ilaiyaraaja.

By this time, Mani Ratnam had already become a sought after name in the South Indian movie fraternity. But, he gained nationwide recognition with the political romance Roja. The film, starring Arvind Swamy and Madhoo opened to rave reviews from the audiences and critics alike and put Mani Ratnam amongst the top notch Indian filmmakers. The movie won multiple National Film Awards, with its soundtrack, composed by A. R. Rahman being a global success. Released in 1992, Roja was dubbed into many languages and was welcomed with an equally phenomenal response. A couple of years later, Ratnam the story of a Hindu-Muslim couple in the midst of the 1993 religious Bombay riots and bombings, after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Featuring Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala in the lead, the movie went on to receive a cult status, both in Hindi and Tamil cinema. It won the Special Award from the Political Film Society, the Wim Van Leer In Spirit of Freedom Award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Gala Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Three years later, in 1998, Ratnam directed his maiden Bollywood film Dil Se.. and completed the trilogy of “terror films” after Roja and Bombay. Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala in lead roles, the movie was a perfect balance between, what is known as parallel cinema and the commercial one. Based on the love story between a journalist and a Northeastern woman in the backdrop of the insurgency, Dil Se.. became the first Indian film to enter the top 10 in the United Kingdom box office charts.

He then directed the romantic drama Saathiya (2002), the political drama Yuva (2004), and the biographical drama Guru (2007), which was loosely based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of Reliance Industries. Saathiya and Guru found immense box-office success, with Yuva, failing commercially, in spite of having some flourishing performances. In 2015, Ratnam directed the blockbuster romantic drama film O Kadhal Kanmani. The Tamil film starring Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen opened to positive reviews, with Baradwaj Rangan of The Hindu writing, "O Kadhal Kanmani is something of a greatest-hits package of Mani Ratnam." Following the success of the film, it was later remade in Hindi as OK Jaanu (2017) directed by Shaad Ali. However, unlike the Tamil version, the film starring Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor received average critical reviews but managed to do well at the box office. His other release of the year includes Tamil-language romantic thriller Kaatru Veliyidai starring Karthik Sivakumar, and Aditi Rao Hydari and Rukmini Vijayakumr, Shraddha Srinath and RJ Balaji in supporting roles. The film is simultaneously dubbed in Telugu as Cheliyaa.

As a Writer
As a writer, Ratnam has written most of his films excluding Unaru (1984), Idaya Kovil (1985), Dasarathan (1993), Nerrukku Ner (1997) and Five Star (2002).

As a Producer
Ratnam has also produced films like Chatriyan (1990), Dasarathan (1993), Bombay (1995), Aasai (1995), Dumm Dumm Dumm (2001), and Five Star (2002),

His 2017 release as a producer includes the official Bollywood remake of Mani Ratnam's Tamil film O Kadhal Kanmani. Starring Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in the lead, the movie is directed by Shaad Ali.

Following the success of the film, it was later remade in Hindi as OK Jaanu (2017) directed by Shaad Ali. However, unlike the Tamil version, the film starring Aditya Roy Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor received average critical reviews but managed to do well at the box office. His other release of the year includes Tamil-language romantic thriller Kaatru Veliyidai starring Karthik Sivakumar, and Aditi Rao Hydari and Rukmini Vijayakumr, Shraddha Srinath and RJ Balaji in supporting roles. The film is simultaneously dubbed in Telugu as Cheliyaa.