A Mani Ratnam Movie is not just a credit that rolls before and after a movie. It is a hallmark of top-quality cinema, which is by default a visual spectacle. No, high-end special effects, just the play between shadow and light. Most of the time, dialogues in his movies are monosyllabic. No overly dramatic and lengthy dialogues. It is because as a filmmaker, he prefers images over words. His movies are simple but deep.
Born as Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam, Mani Ratnam started making movies to get away from the mundane 9-5 job. The ex-management consultant has since improved the taste of the audience with an entree of good cinema that has become a reference point to judge modern-day bad films.
He is also a daring, bold and wise voice of Indian cinema. Given that his creative freedom was limited by a producer’s understanding of what the market wants, he launched his own production banner, Madras Talkies, just so he can make movies the way he wanted.
As Mani Ratnam turns a year older today, here is a look at the ace filmmaker’s movies which are readily available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
A girl refusing to fall in line quietly with an inconsiderate practice of society, is what put Ratnam on the map. The movie provides a female gaze of the arranged marriage system by showing the struggles of the protagonist, who finds it extremely difficult to settle down in a marriage with a stranger.
This is the movie that informed the world about the arrival of a world-class filmmaker. A Mumbai-based gangster drama tells the classic tale of haves exploiting have-nots and finally forcing the have-nots to rebel against the haves. Nayakan has several scenes inspired by Hollywood classics – Once Upon A Time in America and The Godfather. But, the fact remains this is one of the most inspired works in the history of Indian cinema.
After directing Kamal Haasan, it is only fair that he also makes a movie with Rajinikanth to restore the balance to our world. The movie is a reimagination of Mahabharata and Rajinikanth plays the modern-day Karna, who stands by his friend against his own family.
It is one of the boldest movies of the 90s that tried to capture the politics, culture and human cost of terrorism. The protagonist is held captive by a terrorist group, which is demanding the release of its leader. The government is in a dilemma unable to make up its mind whether it is worth trading a high-value terrorist for the life of a guy who basically provides tech support for the intelligence. Now, it is left to the female lead to persuade the government to compromise for the release of her husband.
It was another daring movie by Ratnam, which showed horrors of communal riots. No matter how many times you have seen it, the climax scene supported by AR Rahman’s soulful music will move you.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the heavy themes, you can catch a breather by watching this movie. It is easily the most light-hearted heist movie.
Iruvar, a movie loosely based on the lives of two titans of cinema and politics of Tamil Nadu, is a visual wonder. It is the work of a director, who was at the top of his form as a visual storyteller. And it has some magnificent performances by Mohanlal and Prakash Raj.
At the heart of this modern romance lies a story of class struggle. The story of this movie begins at the point where most romantic movies end. Okay, you rebelled against your family and society to marry the person your heart desires. Now what? Is your love strong enough to endure the challenges in a post-modern society?
What is the best way to demonstrate the futility of hate politics and violence but to show it from the vantage point of innocence: through the eyes of a child.
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