Born Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam, and better known by his stage name, Mani Ratnam is one of Indian cinema’s most celebrated directors. Films of this National Award-winning filmmaker are often on socially relevant issues, relationships and emotions. His films are backed by strong stories and yet conveyed in a very subtle manner. They evoke powerful emotions that you can connect with. If you’ve watched some of his films like Bombay, Iruvar and Roja, we’re sure you would agree. But what makes his films unique are that they lack melodrama, and are often close to reality. Not just Tamil films, Mani Ratnam has made his mark in other languages as well. On the occasion of his birthday, we bring you some less-known facts about the director.

1. If you thought Mani Ratnam made his debut in Tamil cinema, then think again. Mani Ratnam made his directorial debut with Kannada film Pallavi Anupallavi. The film starred Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and Lakshmi in the lead. Although the film didn’t do well at the box office, it won Mani Ratnam the Best Screenplay Award from the Karnataka State Government.

2. Mani Ratnam has made only one Malayalam film so far. Titled Unaru, the film starred Mohanlal in the lead. Mani Ratnam finally made his Tamil debut with the film Pagal Nilavu starring Murali and Revathi in the lead. 

3. Mani Ratnam’s classic film Nayakan was featured in TIME Magazine’s All-Time 100 Greatest Movies in 2005.

4. Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Varma have teamed up for a film in the past. Surprised? Yes, the duo worked on the 1993 film Gaayam which was directed by Ram Gopal Varma, while Mani Ratnam penned the screenplay of the film. The film went on to win several awards.

5. In a time when filmmakers fly to foreign locations to shoot their films, Mani Ratnam’s USP is to shoot only in India. Be it the picturesque locations in Alaipayuthey or O Kadhal Kanmani – they were all in India.

Do you admire the director? Which film of his is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.