In a first, National Award-winning filmmaker Mani Ratnam on Tuesday interacted with his fans on social media for over an hour and answered many questions about the way he goes about making a film.
After the first nationwide lockdown was announced in the country, actor-filmmaker Suhasini started a series of celebrity interactions on her social media handles. And on the last day of the 21-day lockdown, she invited her husband Ratnam to join in.
The session allowed the Raavanan director to find out the kind of influence he holds on millennials. He made his debut as a director in the early 1980s with Pallavi Anu Pallavi, which he had first pitched to Kamal Haasan. However, he ended up making the movie in Kannada with Anil Kapoor in the lead. He went on to become one of the most influential filmmakers in the 20th century, and continues to influence young filmmakers to date.
Many young fans who had video-recorded their questions for the session, prominently noted that they were drawn towards filmmaking after watching his movies. “If you have taken up filmmaking because of me, I want to tell you one thing. What you make and how you make is your problem. Don’t blame me for what’s going to come out finally. I can’t help it,” responded Mani Ratnam with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
Also, Tuesday coincided with the 20th anniversary of Ratnam’s blockbuster romantic drama, Alaipayuthey. The movie, which released on April 14, 2000, marked the silver screen debut of Madhavan.
Madhavan joined the live discussion with a few questions of his own. The actor also recalled that he was not just an actor on the sets of Alaipayuthey as he doubled up as an assistant director, and at the time, he was also on crowd-control duty.
“Do you do that to all the actors that you introduce?” asked Madhavan.
“Maddy that was special for you,” Mani Ratnam responded.
Actor Khushboo and her daughter Anandita also made a short appearance during the live session. Aditi Rao Hydari also joined the chat with a few questions. Aditi also recalled when she visited Ratnam’s office to audition for her role in Kaatru Veliyidai (2017).
“I am looking for somebody who will give me the least trouble,” Mani Ratnam told Aditi when she asked him how he picks actors for his movies.
“Sometimes you just have to feel it is right. It is not always the first choice you get. But it could also be for the better. You try not to go to stereotypes. You know there is somebody who is the right fit for the character, and so you try to avoid that,” he added.
“Casting is 50 per cent of the job. I think if you cast well and have correct sync with the person, then your job on the set is so much easier,” Ratnam said, adding that he always looks for actors who help see him a different interpretation of his characters.
“I am not looking for someone who does exactly what I say. I am looking for an actor who can put a bit of himself or herself into the role. So we get something more than what’s just on the paper. I am looking for that extra thing,” Mani Ratnam said.
All aspiring actors, please make a note.
Mani Ratnam’s next movie is Ponniyin Selvan, and its production has been stopped due to the lockdown. “Ponniyin Selvan is a two-part film,” revealed the ace filmmaker. Ratnam also revealed he is working on a script, and if all things work out, he can film it in Hindi after Ponniyin Selvan.
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