Script ? No way !!

Mumbai Mirror has some news on Mani Ratnam’s next flick, Guru.

This is the first time that Mani Ratnam is finding it difficult to get a star for his next, Guru. He can’t find a hero opposite Vidya Balan in his film. Ratnam has signed Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai as the lead pair of his film, while Vidya Balan has been finalised as the second lead. But it seems that most of the Bollywood actors are giving this ace filmmaker grief as none of them seem to be interested in playing second lead to AB Jr.

While we go to press, we have been informed by our source that Mani Ratnam is disappointed with the attitude of Bollywood actors, and he wants to cast a fresh face opposite Vidya Balan. Mani sir will come to Mumbai to conduct screen tests and in all probability he might sign on a new face for the film, he informs.

I would love if Ratnam drops the entire plan and returns Chennai to shoot the movie in Tamil.

Niruthanum…Ellathayum Niruthanum !!

thalapathi

Filled with tight close-ups and trolley shots, the 5 minute sequence where Deva – Surya meet Arvind Swamy, is probably one of the best edited scenes in kollywood. The broad view of Arvind Swamy’s office is never shown until the conflict happens. Until then the camera just captures the emotions on the faces. As the trolley moves and the camera comes behind someone it cuts surprisingly to another face. May seem to be an old technique now but then it was so new.

A true team effort from the cast, Mani Ratnam, Suresh Urs and Santhosh Sivan. Illayaraja seems to have provided ample support with a perfect silence during the close-ups. Classy.

Guru !!

mani ratnam guru.jpg
[Source – Madras Talkies. Via – Brijesh]

There is this relatively old rumor[a month old] that Mani Ratnam‘s latest flick will be a Bollywood film with Aamir Khan.

Few days back, they let the cat more or less out of the bag that Mani is looking to direct another bollywood flick with Abhishek, Aish and ‘Parineeta’ Vidya Balan.

So what’s the movie name? GURU. Yeah, more or less[in Times of India tone], its Guru. Is that why my collar seems to be perpetually raised, since then ?

P.S – Its a surprise to see the image of Mani Ratnam on Madras Talkies site. Its probably the first time, I see Mani indulging in such a self-promotion. Either Yuva must be spotted in some recent film festival or, I’m guessing, some webmaster who is an ardent fan like Guru[yeah, this is me] put up Mani’s photo on the homepage.

Mr.Mani , If you are reading this, can you ask that webmaster to send me a bigger image with better resolution. I need an image like this to be hosted at maniratnamfilms.com.

Mani Ratnam on Personal Film-making

I think we are on the threshold of development. Today, a lot more films are made for an international audience. Technology will play a big role with the growth of the digital medium. Filmmaking will become a lot more personal. It will become like writing. Anybody will be able to make a film.

Those are words of Mani Ratnam in a short interview to Deccan Herald. Interesting observtion. Rest of the interview, has already appeared on print before, in some form or other.

With the way things are exponentially progressing, what Mani says will happen sooner than expected. Like blogging, anyone will be able to make a film. By then, most of us would be already standing with a Sony movie handycam and loads of ideas. Ofcourse, rehearsing the script within ourselves. mylazymovie.com !!

Nayakan on All-'Time' Top 100 Movies

Kamal as Velu Naicker

Bollywood is shorthand for Bombay Hollywood, seat of the largest Indian film industry. But it manufactures only about 200 of the thousand or so Indian feature films; a half-dozen regions boast production sites larger than most of the world?s national cinemas. Madras, capital of the Tamil state, is one such place, and its leader – arguably India’s top pop-film auteur – is Mani Ratnam. His movies, often dramatizing social unrest and political terrorism, churn with narrative tension and camera energy that would be the envy of Hollywood directors, if they were ever to see them. Nayakan, an early, defining work in his career, tells the Godfatherish tale of Velu, a boy who embraces a life of crime after his father is killed by the police. Velu (Kamal Hasan) has trouble juggling his family life with his life-and-death mob “family”; Ratnam has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster’s miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin’ in the rain. – Excerpt from Time Magazine.

Again, just like the Oscars for a tamil movie, I don’t think something is achieved when you have a Tamil movie featuring in the list of global all-time favorites. But it’s a feel good factor. One reason why I am personally happy is for Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan[needs subscription] making it to the Time’s Alltime Top 100 movies, is that despite being based on Mario Puzo’s God Father script, Nayakan had its own share of Mani Ratnam’s brilliance at throughout the movie. If you ask me to stick out a single favorite shot from the film, I may be dazzled.

Nayakan had a team that was one of the best during that decade. It had geniuses like Illayaraja, PC Sriram and the Nayakan himself.

I haven’t subscribed to Time and hence couldn’t read the entire article. Thanks Vilvanboy and Srivats for passing on the link, It made my day.

A Mani Ratnam scoop or a spoof


[Click the image for a bigger version]

A friend of mine, Karthi, did forward the above pic with a subject – Mani Ratnam’s New Film, Aalayam.

I probably wanted to verify the source and then post this. Am not posting this to make a scoop out of it or to bring in a speculation. Infact, going by previous instances this isn’t the way Mani Ratnam unleashes his new movie. Because I believe the movie shooting hasn’t started yet and many a time such teaser posters get released only when post-production works are in progress.

This could be true on one reason. K Sera Sera production house’s name is there on the list. Maybe K Sera Sera is co-producing the film alongwith Madras Talkies. But be it a spoof or a scoop, am posting it just because I am happy for the way the poster is designed. He/She must have been a Mani Ratnam fan. The font and the collage of pics at the background just makes it for a Mani Ratnam flick. Just couple of small mistakes, Mani Ratnam usually makes sure that he has the crew names written in tamil when its a poster for tamil movie. Also silly statements like With an International Cast never happen on a Mani Ratnam flick banners. I am sure.

Anyone with the details on the source of this so-called-Mani-Ratnam-poster gets a warm applause in the next post.

Update 1 – Koushik, got inspired by this poster above, created one more using the same poster. Check it out here.

A Peck on the Cheek – Reaching Out

KM_Keerthana.jpg
[Pic: mybindi.com]

This is how Kansas City Star has rated Mani Ratnam‘s Kannathil Muthamittal [A Peck on the Cheek], which is being featured in this year’s Kansas Film Festival. Though with small mis-informations, this small preview, would make Kannathil Muthamittal get a warm welcome in the fest.

“A Peck on the Cheek”: This recent Bollywood hit from writer/director Mani Ratnam stars the adorable P.S. Keerthana as a young girl who, upon learning from her Indian parents that she was adopted, begins a journey to strife-torn Sri Lanka to find out who her biological parents are.

Part war film, part domestic tearjerker and part musical (if it doesn’t have singing and dancing, it isn’t Bollywood), this winning entry should provide local audiences with a fitting introduction to one of the most popular cinema styles in the world today.

Also read about the review of other films which are to be screened in the Kansas Film Festival 2004.

Here is another review of Kannathil Muthamittal made in the Toronto Film Festival 2002.

Give Yuva a chance. Don't pre-judge the film – Mani Ratnam

mani_yuva.jpg
[Pic : Rediff]

Why do you assume anything has gone wrong? Nothing has gone against the film. Word-of-mouth is good. The film is good, so everything is okay.

It is also too early to analyse the film. If you ask a filmmaker to analyse his own film, it would take three or four years to do that, honestly. Because when you make a film, you have to be convinced about it. You are married to that film for a year.

I am very happy with the film. I am happy with the response I have got so far from the theatres.

I am glad that we can make bold films, different films within the commercial market and still do well.

This interview with Mani Ratnam explains all. Read it on here on Rediff.

P.S: Aptly said Anti/Viji. As Viji pointed out Kamal literally came out of Bollywood for these same reasons.

However, the reason that he isn’t tall enough for a bollywood hero was a humbug. Pity that Mani Ratnam is also pushed to the same state of affairs. But Mani Ratnam has always stood against such acts. Be it the censors or terrorist attacks, he had remained calm in the face of the media. His sudden press meet, I should say, is certainly because he is upset about the movie pundits too much.

Aayitha Ezhuthu Movie Review – A True 'Maathiyosi'


*No Spoilers Ahead*

As you stroll down the dark cinema hall to watch Aayitha Ezhuthu and if you are a few minutes late, you might assume that the climax is around. So begins the latest Mani Ratnam flick Aayitha Ezhuthu. And hey, you needn’t worry for there is lot more to come and even if you miss this first scene, the scene repeats more number of times than the cost of your popcorn. Aayitha Ezhuthu is about serious cinema and not just for the popcorn eating cinema commoner.

Aayitha Ezhuthu’s premise is all about the rare species of progressive youths who are not opportunists and escapists from stamp paper scams and water-scarce society of the modern day India. It is Mani Ratnam’s expression of the angst against the middle class escapist mentality of the country and his endeavor to handover the country to such modern, intellectually progressive youth.

While conveying this Mani Ratnam chooses to adopt a style of film-making which is still in its experimental state, at least in India. The basic rule for the screenplay is that there no rules. There are only directives. Playing with this fact, Mani Ratnam has taken liberties to play with the style of film making. While he has adopted the classic structure that demands to introduce the characters, create the conflict and give an ending, he has just meddled with the timing of each the above mentioned components. Though I haven’t seen any of the movies they say has inspired Aayitha Ezhuthu like Ameros Perros, City of God or Kurasowa’s Rashomon, I personally think they might have had little to do with this film. As reported Aayitha Ezhuthu doesn’t sport overlapping events or even points of view. The movie, if observed meticulously, is told from a third person’s point-of-view.

In Mani Ratnam’s earlier super hit Alai Payuthey, the movie oscillates from the past to present and in one point the flashback merges with the present event. This same thing if you deploy as three flashbacks which gets merged with the present through a common incident, you get Aayitha Ezhuthu.

Pity the media as it reports the highlight lies in this connection of three stories to one point. It merely takes a pulp-fiction writer to manufacture such stories. The ‘Maathiyosi’(think different) lies in shaping these characters and using them to unfold the story in the later half. But in Aayitha Ezhuthu, the character build-up occupies for more than two thirds of the movie. The reason being all the three characters form the core of the movie and the movie details up their lives and their view of life. So every character’s story is detailed until which the other characters wait for their chance.

The risk involved in having such a story-telling style is that, relating to a character becomes tougher as there is no one central character that gets focused. It is only finally when the repercussion of that common incident gets focus, we clearly see the main theme and the protagonist of the movie. Despite these risks and shortcomings, it’s Mani Ratnam’s sheer ability to keep up the interest of the viewer with his character sketching. But after the two flashbacks and one common incident, one will tend to feel what the director wants to convey. Well, there is a long dense second half to come. But patience waits for none and you tend to loose it by the first half.

Madhavan as Inba Sekhar fails poorly to portray ‘the guy from streets’. Just because of Writer Sujatha’s Chennai slang the character of Inba Sekhar escapes without a curse. His Chocolate boy image and his intonations bring out the urban actor in him. With the kind of character that Mani Ratnam and Sujatha has etched out, one would expect a splendid and powerful performance from Madhavan. Though by his characterization Madhavan would tend to get noticed it is one of Mani Ratnam’s biggest mistake is to cast Madhavan for this role.

Surya as Michael Vasant, a child prodigy who comes from a middle class Christian family. Mike is rigidly violent and a genius of his own kind. Be it the way he rigs the politician or the way he proves that the universe is made of dense matter with a single equation, the character of Michael Vasant is here to stay with us. Surya has played his role very subtly like Kakkha Kakkha and gets full points for his perfect body language. Surya enters the flashback with the same walk into a mall just like Karthik in Mouna Ragam. The strength of his character doesn’t lie in all the powerful stunts he does with Madhavan but by the intelligent dialogue delivering skills of Surya.

Sidharth, the rascally flirtatious young man comes as a relief to the rather serious movie and his flashback just after the second half of the movie reminds us the romantic yester-year Mani Ratnam. For Sidharth is very natural and he portrays the present day $ dreaming yuppie youth. Actually it is Sidharth’s life that get entirely changed by the Napier Bridge incident and not the other two.

Bharathi Raja as Selvanayakam is convincing and does his role better than expected. A great find. Meera Jasmine who pairs Madhavan has done an appreciable job and it is her character that earns all the sympathy. Easha Deol’s character could be easily avoided because she does nothing more than just appearing on-screen. Trisha is also convincing as Meera.

Writer Sujatha again steals the show with his appropriate dialogues for the three characters. The difference he has shown in the dialogues of each character shows the genius he is.

Ravi K Chandran excels with his camera techniques, as expected. The kind of hand-in-hand exercise Ravi K Chandran, Editor Sreekar Prasad and Stuntman Vikram Dharma has done makes the stunts very remarkable.

Art Director Sabu Cyril is certainly a let down. His sets for Madhavan’s house, near the Chennai port is very artificial. The streets and roads leading to Madhavan’s house is clearly noticed as sets. We all know that each character gets a color. If only it was subtle, it would have won the praise. But these contrasting colors is so evident even in the sets and costumes. Madhavan’s neighborhood is fully painted red which makes it very artificial. For Surya, even the prison walls also are in Green. And the worst thing is for Sidharth, from the discotheque, his basketball walls and his bike, all feature blue. Even Trisha is forced to wear blue costumes to pair Sidharth. Not the kind of color thrust that we expect from a Mani Ratnam film.

Not all songs are picturised like typical Indian film songs. That’s however a relief. But Fanah and Hey Goodbye Nanba songs fill up that gap. A R Rahman also scores very subtly for Aayitha Ezhuthu. The extra bit song for Surya-Easha Deol in pallavan bus is a surprise. Mani Ratnam – A R Rahman deliver this surprise every time. Each character gets a theme of music and the music flows throughout the flash back for all the three characters. This background score is however very subdued and the difference can be heard only in a theatre. Having said that, this is certainly not the best of Mani Ratnam – ARR combo.

It is a fact that time pass films de-humanize the viewers and give a superman image to the heroes. Mani Ratnam has always tried to portray his heroes as practical humans. So he does that with class in Aayitha Ezhuthu too. Mani Ratnam spontaneously evolves towards the leftist line of thinking as his protagonist believes the change should not only be made in urbanized cities but also from villages like Neikaaranpatti.

Just like how Shakespeare’s Macbeth starts very sensationally with the introduction of the three witches, Aayitha Ezhuthu story starts right from the first second of the movie. It is just that Mani Ratnam takes time to set the dramatic need to the characters; the movie looses the chance to find a place in the viewer’s heart. If the movie fails it is because of this experiment that he has chosen to make. Though this effort may prove costly for him, Indian Cinema would go a long way because of such pioneering efforts. Mani Ratnam proves again that good film-making is an exercise in style.