Site hosted by Build your free website today!




Film Director, Writer and Producer

Date of Birth

June 1956 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


Late Sri Venus Gopal Rathnam (Film Distributor)


Late Sri G Venkateshwaran (Film Producer)


Suhasini Mani Rathnam (Actress and Director)


MADRAS TALKIES, 15, Cresent Avenue Kesava Perumalpuram, Chennai - 600 028.


20+ years experience in Film Industry.

Mani Ratnam is certainly the biggest director in South India today and a much-respected one all over India as well. He has revolutionized the Tamil Film Industry with technically strong films that are beautifully photographed with well picturised songs. Every frame in a Mani Ratnam film is perfectly composed and beautifully backlit even if this style involves total violation of tonal, focal and colour continuity.Born in 1956 in Madras, he studied at Madras University and then received a management degree at the Bajaj Institute, Mumbai. He worked initially as a management consultant before getting in to films. (His father was a producer - 'Venus' Gopalrathnam and his brother G. Venkateshwaran, a distributor turned producer)Ratnam's debut film in Kannada Pallavi Anu Pallavi (1983) starring Anil Kapoor, Lakshmi and Kiran Vairale hardly caused any ripples though one song in the film shot stylishly in an auditorium gives a good hint of the Mani Ratnam to come in later years. His initial films (both in Tamil and even one in Malayalam) still did nothing for him till he broke through with Mauna Ragam (1986) starring Mohan, Revathi and Kartik.The film deals with a woman who is forced into an arranged marriage and lives with her husband in Delhi. She recalls her carefree days with her first boyfriend, a gangster who was shot dead in front of a temple even as she waited to marry him. She seeks a divorce but as the law requires the couple to stay together for a year, they stay separately in the same house and by the years end decide to stay together. The film is notable for its sophisticated approach and execution.His next film was also perhaps his greatest, Nayakan (1987). A take off from The Godfather (1972), the film is based on the life of the Bombay based gangster Varadarajan. The film, with stunning cinematography by P.C. Sriram (taking its cue from Gordon Willis) and art direction (The entire Dharavi slum was recreated in Madras!) with meticulous detail to cars and décor much like the Hollywood gangster films, established Ratnam as the leading Tamil director of his time and won its star Kamal Hassan the National Award for Best Actor. The film draws on 30 years of Tamil Nadu's star/ politician images and directly plays to Tamil people's anti-Hindi feelings when the hero, beaten up, tells the Hindi Speaking Bombay Cop in Tamil 'If I ever hit you, you will die.'Agni Nakshatram (1988), the story of friction between two step brothers was shot in an ad like manner with glossy camerawork using extensive backlighting and flare filters with rapid cutting and extensive dissolves much like a long slick music video. The film set a trend for a whole new visual style in Tamil Cinema.Gitanjali (1989) was a touching love story between two people who both have less than six months to live. The film was mainly shot in the misty landscape of Ooty to give the film an almost soft and poetic feel. The comedy track in the film however was totally forced and unnecessary ruining what was otherwise a great film.Anjali (1990) about a mentally handicapped child brought back to her family with two normal siblings is perhaps sourced in a novel by Fynn, Mr. God, This is Anna. The scenes and songs with elaborate choreography featuring the children and neighbouring kids are the film's highlights.It was Roja (1992) however, a patriotic love story against the backdrop of Kashmir terrorism that made Ratnam a household name all over India as it was dubbed and released in Hindi and proved to be a huge success all over the country. A semi-political, romantic thriller, the film reinforces in a big way Ratnam's reputation as a filmmaker of style and substance. The film also marked a highly auspicious debut for young music director A.R. Rahman whose music contributed to the film's success in a major way. India's then election commissioner T.N. Seshan took the unusual step of officially endorsing the film.Thiruda Thiruda (1993) was a misfire about two petty thieves and a girl on the lines of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) but Ratnam bounced back with his next film, Bombay (1995).Bombay, a love story between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl against the backdrop of the Bombay riots of 1993, again released nationwide but ran into controversy as the film was released in Bombay only after getting clearance from Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. The film was attacked for its anti-Muslim stand, its misrepresentation of widely reported events in order to blame the Muslims for having started the riots and for its tendency to equate the 'voice of reason' with Hindu majority. But all the controversy helped the film as it scored heavily at the box-office.Continuing with his obsessions with politics, Ratnam made Iruvar (1997) loosely based on the MGR - Karunanidhi story and his first Hindi film Dil se (1998) supposedly based on the North-East Indian problem. The last though a visual spectacle with a pulsating musical score by A.R. Rahman is a totally strange and confused film heading nowhere and represents a nadir in Mani Ratnam's career.Alai Payuthey (2000) sees him returning to more familiar ground as he tackles the love story of a young couple in love that get married and realize marriage is not the bed of roses it is made out to be. And his latest film Kan Nathil Mutha Mittal (A Peck on the Cheek) reaffirms Mani Ratnam's return to form as one of Indian Cinema's best storytellers.