Mani Ratnam

Mani Ratnam
Mani Ratnam

Mani Ratnam was born on 2 June 1956, as the second child of a family that was closely associated with film production. His father S. Gopala Ratnam was a film distributor who worked for Venus Pictures, and his uncle "Venus" Krishnamurthy was a film producer. His elder brother G. Venkateswaran would go on to produce some of his films. His younger brother is G. Srinivasan, who like Venkateswaran would co-produce some of his films. Mani Ratnam grew up in Madras (now Chennai), along with his siblings and cousins. Despite being a film family, the children were not allowed to watch films as the elders considered it a "taboo".

"As a youngster, films seemed like a waste of time", he claimed in a 1994 interview; however, he started watching films more actively when he was studying in the Besant Theosophical School. During this time, he developed an admiration towards actors like Sivaji Ganesan and Nagesh; watching all their films. When he was 15 he discvered director K. Balachander and became a fan. Upon completing his schooling, he graduated with a degree in commerce from the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, affiliated to the Madras University. Later, he did his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.

After finishing his post-graduation in 1977, he was employed in a firm in Madras as a management consultant, and continued to work there for sometime. Mani is married to Suhasini, an established actress in South Indian cinema then. The two first met in 1988 and got married the same year. The couple have a son Nandhan (born 1992). The family resides in Alwarpet, Chennai, where he runs his production company, Madras Talkies.

Mani Ratnam developed a script—originally written in English—into a film and named it Pallavi Anu Pallavi. His uncle Krishnamurthy agreed to produce the film but imposed a condition that it should be made under a limited budget in Kannada, to which he agreed. As a debutant, Mani Ratnam wanted to make sure that the technical aspects of the film are good.

In 1986, Mani directed the Tamil romantic drama Mouna Ragam, which starred Revathi and Mohan. The film was critically acclaimed for portraying urban Tamils in a "realistic" manner. Ilaiyaraaja's musical score and Mani's work were highly appreciated as they both went on to win the Music Director and Best Director awards respectively at the 39th Filmfare Awards.

With Thalapathi, Mani ended his long-term association with music director Ilaiyaraaja, bringing in debutant music director A. R. Rahman to score his Tamil classic Roja (1992). The venture was successful, earning Mani various awards. Roja, a romantic film, was about terrorism in the Kashmir region. Starring Arvind Swamy and Madhoo, it was nominated for the Golden St. George Award at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival.

His next film was Kaatru Veliyidai, starring Karthi, Aditi Rao Hydari and RJ Balaji. Kaatru Veliyidai was released with mixed reviews and was an average in box office. His upcoming, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is a multi-starer from his home productions; starring Jyothika, Arvind Swamy, Silambarasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Arun Vijay, Antony Varghese, Aishwarya Rajesh & Aditi Rao Hydari with Santosh Sivan, A.R.Rahman & Sreekar Parasad handling Cinematography, Music and Editing respectively.

Mani is well recognized outside India with a retrospective of his films held at various film festivals around the world such as Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, Tokyo Filmex and Birmingham International Film Festival. His films are being screened regularly at many film festivals such as Venice Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival.

In July 2015, he was honoured with the Sun Mark Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival for his esteemed contribution to international cinema. Around the same time, the Museum of the Moving Image, New York City, paid a special tribute to Mani. His films Roja, Bombay, and Dil Se were screened at the museum as a retrospective.

He has won several film awards, including six National Film Awards, six Filmfare Awards South and three Bollywood Filmfare Awards.

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