Born in: Madurai
Education: MBA (from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies)
Career: Director, Producer, Writer
Mani Ratnam is one of the biggest directors of South India, who has made movies in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam as well as Hindi. Credited with having revolutionized the Tamil Film Industry, he is also recognized as a talented director in Bollywood. Apart from being an ace director, Mani Ratnam also writes screenplays and is involved in production (Madras Talkies). His movies have spanned various genres, right from thrillers to romantic dramas to political themes. They present the perfect combination of substance and style and are, more often than not, box office hits.
Childhood and Education
Mani Ratnam was born on 2nd June 1956, in Madurai city of Tamil Nadu, India. Born to Hindu Tamilian parents, he had two siblings, one of whom - G. Venkateswaran, a notable film producer, is no more. Mani's father - Gopal Ratnam Iyer was also a known film producer. Mani Ratnam did his graduation, in commerce, from Vivekananda College, University of Madras. Thereafter, he pursued an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies. In the initial days of his career, he worked as a management consultant.
Debut As A Director
Mani Ratnam entered the arena of film direction with the help of his late brother, film producer G. Venkateswaran. He made his directorial debut in the year 1983, with the Kannada film 'Pallavi Anu Pallavi'. For a debut director, he took on a rather bold topic for his film. 'Pallavi Anu Pallavi' was based on the relationship between a young man and an elder woman. Though he managed to get the ace cinematographer Balu Mahendra for his first film, box office success eluded him and continued to do so till quite some time.
Following 'Pallavi Anu Pallavi', Mani Ratnam directed 'Unaru' (1985), a Malayalam film. His first Tamil film was 'Pagal Nilavu'(1985), which was succeeded by 'Idaya Kovil'(1985). Four films old, Mani was still a long way from success. Then came 'Mouna Ragam' (1986), a Tamil film starring Revathi and Karthik. The romantic drama gave Mani his first commercial success and is still considered to be one of the best films of his career. A year later, he did the screenplay as well as direction for 'Nayagan', another commercial and critical hit.
'Nayagan', based on real life underworld king - Varadarajan Mudaliar, was included in "TIME Magazine's All-Time 100 Greatest Movies". In 1988, Mani Ratnam directed 'Agni Natchathiram', for which he wrote the screenplay as well. The movie is, till date, renowned for the use of new techniques in cinematography. After the success of 'Agni Natchathiram', Mani directed 'Geethanjali', a Telugu film starring Nagarjuna Akkineni. By this time, he had established himself as a director known for handling emotional stories beautifully.
Mani Ratnam opened the decade of 1990s with the film 'Anjali', based on the story of an autistic child. The following year, he his second movie based on the underworld, named 'Thalapathi', which starred Rajnikanth and Mammooty. The movie earned him both, critical acclaim and commercial success. His next film 'Roja', starring Arvind Swamy and Madhubala, was released in 1992 and became a huge hit. It was also nominated for Golden St. George Award at Moscow International Film Festival and was dubbed in a number of languages.
It was in 'Roja' only that Mani Ratnam introduced A.R. Rahman, the ace music director who went on to become a legend in his own right. With 'Thiruda Thiruda', Mani took a more light-hearted approach and met with moderate success. In 1995 came 'Bombay', a movie based on Bombay riots and bombings of 1993. It garnered much critical acclaim and also won the "Special Award" from Political Film Society. The same year, he co-wrote and co-produced 'Indira', his wife Suhasini Mani Ratnam's directorial debut.
After a gap of two years, Mani Ratnam returned to direction and gave 'Iruvar' (1997). Amongst his finest films till date, it is based on Tamil film star and politician MG Ramachandran and current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. 'Iruvar' was honored with 'Best Film Award' at the Festival of the Auteur Films, in Belgrade. The following year, Mani made his debut in Bollywood, with the movie 'Dil Se', based on Kashmir conflict. Its song 'Chhaiyya Chhaiyya' turned out to be a huge hit.
Mani Ratnam welcomed Y2K with 'Alaipayuthey', starring R. Madhavan and Shalini. A commercial and critical hit, it was later remade into a Hindi film - 'Saathiya', which form the directorial debut of Shaad Ali. In 2002, he directed 'Kannathil Muthamittal', based on an adopted Tamil refugee girl, from Sri Lanka. Apart from being a commercial success, it was acclaimed critically as well. The movie received six National Film Awards, Ratnam's second Filmfare Award -South for Direction, Awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival and Awards at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
The year 2004 saw Mani Ratnam directing 'Aayitha Ezhuthu', which was later remade into a Hindi film 'Yuva'. The latter served as Mani's second film in Bollywood. Though both the versions failed to garner much box office success, they did gain critical acclaim. For the next three years, Mani was nowhere to be seen at the box office. It was in 2007 that he directed a Hindi film 'Guru', based on the life of Late Shri Dhirubhai Ambani. It was one of the biggest hits of 2007. Currently, Mani is working on 'Ashokavanam', a Tamil film simultaneously being made in Hindi, as 'Ravana'.
Mani Ratnam married actress Suhasini, niece of Kamal Haasan, in the year 1988. The couple has a 17-year old son - Nandan. Nandan has authored a book called 'The Contours of Leninism'. Ratnam lives in Kodambakkam, Chennai, and runs the production company Madras Talkies.
As A Director
1983: Pallavi Anu Pallavi (Kannada)
1985: Unaru (Malayalam)
1985: Pagal Nilavu (Tamil)
1985: Idaya Kovil (Tamil)
1986: Mouna Raagam (Tamil)
1987: Nayagan (Tamil)
1988: Agni Natchathiram (Tamil)
1989: Geethanjali (Telugu)
1990: Anjali (Tamil)
1991: Thalapathi (Tamil)
1992: Roja (Tamil)
1993: Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil)
1995: Bombay (Tamil)
1997: Iruvar (Tamil)
1998: Dil Se (Hindi)
2000: Alaipayuthey (Tamil) - Remade into 'Saathiya' (Hindi)
2002: Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil)
2004: Aayitha Ezhuthu (Tamil)
2004: Yuva (Hindi) - Remake of 'Aayitha Ezhuthu'
2007: Guru (Hindi)
As A Non-Director
1990 - Chatriyan (Tamil) - Story & Screenplay
1993 - Ghayam (Telugu) - Story & Screenplay
1995 - Indira (Tamil) - Screenplay
1995 - Aasai (Tamil) - Producer
1997 - Nerrukku Ner (Tamil) - Producer
2000 - Taj Mahal (Tamil) - Story
2001 - Dumm Dumm Dumm (Tamil) - Story, Screenplay & Producer
2002 - Saathiya (Hindi) - Screenplay & Producer
2003 - Five Star (Tamil) - Producer
2006 - Netru, Indru, Naalai