- Actor, Director
Aug 15, 1961 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Aug 15, 1961 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
National Award-winning actress Suhasini Maniratnam is most popular for her performance in K. Balachander’s Tamil drama Sindhi Bhairavi (1985). Her performance in the film not only impressed audiences then but is also spoken about today. Even though she forayed into the film industry with a Tamil movie, she has gained widespread recognition of being of the finest actresses across South Indian cinema during her extensive movie career. This Filmfare Award recipient’s most appreciated films include Ezhuthappurangal (1987), Theerthadanam (2001) and Nenjathai Killathe (1980). Along with being an actress, she has also tried her hands on direction and dialogue writing.
Suhasini was born into the prominent Haasan family of Tamil cinema. Her father Charuhasan is the elder brother of actor Kamal Hassan. After completing her education in Chennai, Suhasini enrolled into the Madras Film Institute to learn cinematography.
Suhasini married celebrated director Mani Ratnam in 1998 and the two have a son named Nandan from their marriage. She is vocal about being an atheist.
After completing her course from the Madras Film Institute, Suhasini assisted cameraman Ashok Kumar, but soon switched over to acting and found success in her very first film. Her debut role in Nenjathai Killathe (1980), directed by Mahendran, won her the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress. She played the protagonist alongside Sarath Babu, Mohan and Pratap Pothan. The film was a complex romantic drama about love and trust. It was ahead of its time and the magazine Anand Vikatan said, “The film is one more attempt to change the taste of the audience, which should be welcomed and the audience is unable to cope with the speed of change but slowly the gap is reducing.”
S.P. Muthuraman’s Kudumbam Oru Kudumbam (1981) was her next major Tamil film, which was based on the role of money and the life of working women in 1980s Indian middle class society. She played the role of Parvathy who is forced to take up a job as her husband’s sporadic income is not sufficient to run the family. S.V. Shekhar, Prathap K. Pothran, Sumalatha, Visu and Kamala Kamesh were here co-actors in the film. Suhasini did not limit herself to Tamil cinema. She eventually forayed into other South Indian film industries, and found success in all of them. She impressed the Malayalam film audience with her first Malayalam film Koodevide? (1983) itself. In the movie, she was seen in the role of Alice, a school teacher who mentors an unruly boy, but her boyfriend gets jealous of the boy leading to further complications. Mammootty played the boyfriend whereas Rahman was cast as the unruly boy. The film won a lot of praise including a few State Awards upon its release.
In the next year, she was seen in a Kannada film Bandhana (1984), directed by Rajendra Singh Babu opposite Vishnuvardhan, which was a blockbuster. Suhasini plays a doctor wife in a troubled relationship with her husband and finds love in a teacher Harish(Vishnuvardhan) who is admitted to her hospital. Things turn complicated between the three. The movie Bandhana reportedly ran for more than 25 weeks in many theatres making Suhasini an instant Kannada star. The role even won her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress in a Kannada film that year. It also began a very successful collaboration for Suhasini with the actor Vishnuvardhan as the pair went on to be part of many hit Kannada films.
Even though the actress has given a number of successful films, K. Bhalachander’s Sindhu Bhairavi (1985) is considered to be the most notable film of her career. She plays the protagonist Sindhu who falls for a married musician J.K. Balaganpathy played bySivakumar, which leads to a turmoil in their lives. Her performance won Suhasini The National Film Award for Best Actress.
The year 1986 saw her being a part of two highly acclaimed Telugu films Chantabbai and Sirivennela. Chantabbai, directed by Jandhyala, was a much praised comedy opposite Chiranjeevi, a detective character who falls in love with Jwala (Suhasini). The movie Sirivennela on the other hand was a romantic drama written and directed by K. Vishwanath, which saw Suhasini in the role of a mute painter who falls for a blind flutist played by Sarvadaman Banerjee. Both the films are hailed as classics of Telugu cinema and made Suhasini a big name in that industry as well.
Her next collaboration with the legendary director K. Balachander for Manathil Uruthi Vendum (1987), was also applauded. She played the titular role of a nurse who faces many difficulties in her personal life but overcomes them successfully. The Kannada film Suprabatha (1988) opposite Vishnuvardhan was also a box office s uccess like her previous one with the actor. So was her next film Muttina Hara (1990), in which she played the wife of a soldier. Her films with Vishnuvardhan made her one of the most popular actresses of Kannada cinema. She has won several Filmfare awards for her acting in Kannada films.
The actress had a successful string of movies in the 90s too. Himpatha (1995) marked her collaboration with Vishnuvardhan once again. She played the woman whom a photographer Arvind (Vishnuvardhan) loses his heart to. Much like other films of the pair, this one too did exceptionally well, commercially. It was directed by Rajendra Singh Babu with whom, she has worked several times. Amrutha Varshini (1997) saw Suhasini in the role of Veena who is happily engaged to Hemanth (Sharath Babu), but the entry of Hemanth’s friend Abhishek (Ramesh Aravind) affects their bond. The role won Suhasini the Filmfare award for Best Actress in a Kannada film.
Vanaprastham (1999) opposite Mohanlal is one of her most acclaimed Malayalam films. Directed by the celebrated director Shaji N. Karun, the film had Suhasini play an upper caste woman who falls for a lower-caste Kathakali dancer. The film won prizes even at international film festivals. She then was cast in Theerathadanam (2001), directed by G.R. Kannan and written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, which was another much praised film she has done in Malayalam cinema. She played the role of a student who reunites with her guru after 35 years. The role earned her the Best Actress at the Kerala State Film Awards.
Suhasini made a revelation with her role of an exorcist in the Tamil film Shock (2004), directed by Thiagrajan, starring Prasanth and Meena in the lead roles. It was a remake of the hit horror movie Bhoot (2003). The Kannada movie Maathad Mathadu Mallige (2007) had her back to her home turf playing a devoted wife to her yesteryear co-star Vishnuvardhan. The film was about a farmer fighting a lone battle against land acquisition. It garnered positive reviews and all so earned handsomely at the box office. Makante Achan in 2009, was a Kannada film about a young lad participating in a reality show against her father’s wishes. , Suhasini plays the role of a doting mother in this film which was a major commercial success.
The Rana Daggubati starrer Leader (2010) had Suhasini playing a mother, who is more like a guide to her son taking baby steps in the big bad world of politics. The Telugu film was a major hit and also garnered mostly positive reviews. Another Telugu film starring Suhasini that earned a lot of commercial success was Gabbar Singh (2012). It had Pawan Kalyan play a cop who faces a major backlash from the goons of an upcoming politician. Suhasini played Pawan’s mother in the film. In 2013, she played Jr. NTR’s mother in the movie Baadshah, which was a huge blockbuster too..
In 2016, apart from doing a mother role in Preethiyalli Sahaja, she was seen playing a powerful Chief Ministerin the Kannada film Viraat.. While the former film was directed by Ratnaja and had Surya play the lead role, the latter was directed by H. Vasu and had Darshan play the protagonist. In 2017, she was seen in Nagshekhar's Maasthi Gudi.
As a Director
She has directed a one film Indira (1995) with Arvind Swamy, Nassar and Anu Hasan in the lead roles. The film is about the caste system and how the younger generation are trying hard to overcome it. Though the film won Best Cinematographer and Special Jury Award at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards it was only a moderate success at the box office.
As a Dialogue writer
Suhasini has also written the dialogues for her husband Mani Ratnam’s films, namely –Iruvar (1997), Guru (2007) and Ravanan (2010).
As a Producer
She was an executive producer for the 1997 film Iruvar.