Mani Ratnam, who has turned 64 on June 2, 2020, is presently in the works of his most ambitious film to date, Ponniyin Selvan. The film has an ensemble cast, some of whom he is working with for the first time. Like Amitabh Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Lal, Aishwarya Lekshmi and Jayaram. And with some who he has already worked with. Like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Iruvar, Guru, Raavan), Chiyaan Vikram (Raavan), Aditi Rao Hydari (Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, Kaatru Veliyidai), Karthi (Kaatru Veliyidai). Mani Ratnam Birthday: From Kamal Haasan’s Nayakan to Dulquer Salmaan’s OK Kanmani, 6 Times Bollywood Looked to the Director’s Amazing Films for Inspiration!
Ratnam is mostly seen as one of the finest directors of human drama in the country and yet, he is a very choosy director. He likes to work with the same team if he can. Before Roja, Ilayaraja used to compose the music score for most of his films; post Roja, AR Rahman took over the duties. He is known to frequently collaborate with other technicians, like Sreekar Prasad, Santosh Sivan, etc. And actors like Arvind Swamy, Karthik, Prabhu, Abhishek Bachchan, R Madhavan, Mohanlal etc. He is a director known to extract amazing performances from an actor, even the ones who you never thought can act. Ace Filmmaker Mani Ratnam Turns 64 Today! Fans Trend #HappyBirthdayManiRatnam On Twitter.
And if an acting legend is working with him, pretty high chances are there that he or she would give the performance of a lifetime there. Mani Ratnam has worked with some amazing actors in our lifetime, and yet he never worked with many of them again, for reasons best known to both the parties. Check out those amazing actors, who gave a terrific performance in their sole Mani Ratnam outing and left us asking for more (collab).
Film: Pallavi Anupallavi
Mani Ratnam's first film as a director was also the first film of Anil Kapoor as a lead. Even if the language is alien to both of them - Kannada - Pallavi Anupallavi that dealt with romance in an unusual setup managed to bring attention to both the director and actor.
It is a huge surprise that Mani Ratnam hasn't got to work with Kamal Haasan, or the superstar in the next entry, again. Despite the fact that the '80s show the rise of these stalwarts together in Tamil cinema. More so, Mani Ratnam is also married to Kamal Haasan's niece, Suhasini. Nayakan is considered one of the greatest gangster dramas made in India cinema, if not the greatest. And Kamal Haasan won the National Award for Best Actor for his performance as Sakthivel Naicker. Who can just forget the scene where he utterly breaks down when he learns of his wife's death? Absolutely brilliant acting moment there!
The bilingual Geethanjali was an iconic hit and an emotional love story about two young people suffering from terminal illnesses. Nagarjuna, usually known for his angry men acts, is amazing in a softer arc, that leaves you reaching out for the handkerchief at quite a few points of the film.
Rajinikanth and Mammootty
If Nayakan is Mani Ratnam's best gangster drama, then Thalapathi, this writer's personal fave Ratnam film, comes a very close second. It was the movie that made Rajinikanth keep his swagger aside and bring out the actor in him. Watch the temple scene where he watches the train go by, silently crying, not knowing his mother, who abandoned him as a baby, is doing the same in the vicinity. Or the anguish and pain he brings out in the scene where he finally learns his lineage. Thalapathi still remains Rajinikanth's best performance to date, and we are hoping for that Thalaiva-Ratnam encore anytime soon.
Similarly, Mammootty was in a more supporting capacity in Thalapathi, being Duryodhana to Rajinikanth's Karna. It may not be one of Malayalam superstar's best performance, with the focus more on his co-star. But when the spotlight is on him, Mammootty shines through and through with his dialogue delivery and powerful body language.
The political drama is about two men whose friendship turns rivalry as they enter politics. The women are mostly in their shadows, but they occasionally do comes out make their presence felt. Like Tabu, who plays the paramour of Tamizhselvan (Prakash Raj). Indubitably, one of the finest actresses in Indian cinema, we do wish Mani Ratnam could have repeated her in another film. Though Tabu did do a cameo in Saathiya, the remake of Ratnam's Alaipayuthey. She also worked with her Iruvar-co-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (who made her debut here) in another Tamil film, Kandukonden Kandukonden.
Shah Rukh Khan
Film: Dil Se...
Mani Ratnam made his Bollywood debut with Dil Se... and the actor he chose in the lead was reigning at the top then, Shah Rukh Khan. AR Rahman's mesmerising soundtrack, especially the "Chaiyya Chaiyya" song, made viewers curious about the film. What they didn't expect was a slow-burning, grim, forbidden love story between a journalist and a terrorist that doesn't seek for a happy ending. Dil Se was a flop at the box office then, but over the years, people are recognising the value of this underrated film, and Shah Rukh Khan's fine performance in it. While Mani Ratnam went on to make three more Hindi movies, King Khan didn't feature in any of them, though he appeared in a cameo in Saathiya, that had Ratnam as a producer.
Suriya and Ajay Devgn
Film: Aaytha Ezhuthu/Yuva
Yuva/Aaytha Ezhuthu was a bilingual political thriller set in Kolkata and featuring different cast in each movies (save for Esha Deol). Suriya and Ajay Devgn played the same character in both the movies - a righteous, bold student leader who wants to shake the corrupts state politics to the core. Both the actors in their individial capacities were incredible in the roles, even though R Madhavan and Abhishek Bachchan threatened to steal away the show. Ratnam later went on to work with Suriya's younger brother Karthi in Kaatru Veliyidai, and wife Jyothika in Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.
Wasn't Rani Mukerji fabulous as the brave, gutsy Shashi whose sole mistake was that she fell in love and married the wrong man? It was one of the actress' best performances. Rani Mukerji was also in Saathiya as the female lead, but she never got to work with Mani Ratnam as a director again.
Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen
Film: O Kadhal Kanmani
OK Kanmani was Mani Ratnam's breeziest film that has its share of admirers, even though it is one of his weakest films. The biggest strength of the film is the casting of the lead pair - Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen - whose amazing chemistry sealed over the flaws. Despite both being Malayali actors, the Tamil audiences accepted them and the film wholeheartedly.
Jyothika, Silambarasan and Vijay Sethupathi
Film: Chekka Chivantha Vaanam
Mani Ratnam's last release was an engaging crime thriller, though not in the same league as Nayakan or Thalapathi. Based on a disjointed crime family with three estranged brothers, the movie featured an ensemble cast. Three stars who stood out were Jyothika, Silambarasan (STR) and Vijay Sethupathi, all working in a Mani Ratnam directorial for the first time. Jyothika (who has worked in a Mani Ratnam production, Dum Dum Dum) gave a solid act as the elder brother's impassive but supportive wife. Silambarasan was excellent as the youngest brother; the scene where he questions his mother on the injustice meted out to him was excellently enacted by him. And of course, Vijay Sethupathi was the surprise package of the movie!
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 02, 2020 07:07 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).