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20 May 2005

In Focus: Mani Ratnam

Posted by Oblivion in General | 2:37pm

Mani Ratnam.

One cannot put him in the same league as Satyajit Ray, but Mani Ratnam has his own style of filmmaking. Few would disagree he is the best in India today. Yes, some filmmakers - Ketan Mehta, Kundan Shah, Vinod Chopra, etc - started with great promise but lost their way. Shekhar Kapur is seen talking about making films more than actually making them. Aditya Bhattacharya had been making a film for more than a decade, and I'd be happy if it gets ready for the next generation. Nihalani doesn't come up with his magic touch any more. It's too early to say anything about Farhan Akhtar. Only Mani Ratnam has been consistent in maintaining excellence.

Astute camera work, brilliant screenplays, and inimitable use of music distinguish Mani Ratnam. And he is unbeatable at picturising songs. For all his skills, he has the knack of screwing up his work by minor and avoidable diversions and excesses. No wonder the National Award has eluded him thus far.

A brief take on his filmography:

Pallavi Anu Pallavi - forgettable
Idhaya Koyil*
Pagal Nilavu*
Mouna Ragam - compelling performances by Revathi, Mohan and Karthik. The take-off of the song 'Manthram Vantha' is like an ace in a tennis match.

Nayakan - the best movie India has managed to send to the Oscars till date. One of the best performances by Kamal, first-rate work by Sriram and Tharani. Such perfect screenplays come just once or twice in a decade.

Agni Nachatiram - although not quite acknowledged, this is a path-breaking movie, in that it made every filmmaker realize how important cinematography is for a movie. Ilaiyaraja at his best, brilliant screenplay - with some avoidable comic scenes though, and who can forget those songs!

Gitanjali - some of the best background scores of Ilaiyaraja, great camera work by Sriram again. Could have been just another love story, but Mani Ratnam's magic shows. Right from poster designs, the title font, the imagery - it's a lesson in branding.

Anjali - Ilaiyaraja excels again. With a baby as the centre, it demanded deft and innovative camera work, and Madhu Ambat pulled off brilliantly. Borrowed a lot from ET, yet did it leaving no room for complaint.

Dalapathi - more a Santosh Sivan's movie than Mani Ratnam's. Ilaiyaraja again comes up with great scores. A couple of songs are, not surprisingly, visual treats.

Roja - screenplay stands out. Made measured use of mush to good effect. Outstanding work by Santosh Sivan and, yes, Rahman.

Thiruda Thiruda - fun movie, for a change. Some impressive numbers by Rahman, and equally good work by Sriram.

Bombay - excessively mushy. Disappointing work, going by Mani Ratnam's standards. Managed to attract good acclaim though.

Iruvar - brilliant script, impeccable camera work by Santosh Sivan. Intricate storyline and screenplay made it difficult to follow.

Dil Se - passion runs from the first frame to the last, in the lyrics, and Shahrukh reflects it in his performance. Santosh Sivan at his best yet again.

Alaipayuthey - the sweetest of Mani Ratnam's movies. Great screenplay in years, some timeless numbers by Rahman, and non-pareil work by Sriram. Songs are a delight to watch. Any time.

Kannathil Muthamittal - magnificent work by Ravi Chandran. Some fantastic songs timed by flawless screenplay that has now become characteristic of Mani Ratnam.

Yuva - idealistic theme proved a drawback, although screenplay was again brilliant. Barring great work by Ravi Chandran and compelling performance by Surya, it was below par for Mani Ratnam's standards.

( * - movies I have not watched) 

Goes without saying then - waiting eagerly for his next movie. 

Current Mood: Happy
Current Music: ---

2 Comments | "In Focus: Mani Ratnam" »

  1. By Chakravarthy

    2 Aug 2006, 12:53am [ Reply ]

    Maniratnam is by far the best Director as far as screenplay, content, story, direction, music and the use of technique goes in Indian films. He knows exactly how to balance content and technique. Others don't even compare to him, they don't even come close. Yes, all his films have great music. He has used only two persons so far to compose music for his films, and they have both gone on to become legendary music directors - Ilaya Raja & A.R. Rahman. That's what a good director can do to the technicians he works with! And guys, another very good music album I have heard in recent times is that of a Telugu Movie called 'Sambhavami Yuge Yuge' - a relatively less popular Telugu Film. But all said and done, great music for a not-so-great film! Another legendary music director in the making?? Hey, you never know!!!

  2. By chotacyrus

    20 May 2005, 11:33pm [ Reply ]

    what I like the most abt Maniratnam is his knack of getting the best out of
    A.R.Rehman.I haven't seen most of his movies,but I enjoy listening to music of all the movies he has directed so far.

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