Mani Ratnam. The very name spells magic in Indian cinema. 

He is one director who transcended barriers and captured the imagination of film going public from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It is not too much to say even Bollywood changed the way it made films only after seeing the films of this genius. Film after film this maestro show new dimensions in film making. His films are a reference point in reading human relations. The true legend of Indian cinema is completing 25 years in Kollywood this June. With just 15 films in 25 years the genius stands tall first among the equals.


Mani Ratnam is widely credited with having revolutionised Indian cinema. After Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy and Guru Dutt's Pyaasa he is the only other Indian film maker to feature in TIME Magazine's All-Time 100 Greatest Movies with ‘Nayakan’. His ‘Roja’ is the only Indian film to have featured in TIME Magazine's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time.

Directing landmark films such as Mouna Raagam (1986), Nayagan (1987), Anjali (1990), Thalapathi (1991), Iruvar (1997), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Yuva (2004), Guru (2007), and his "terrorism trilogy" consisting of Roja (1992), Bombay (1995) and Dil Se (1998),[1][2] 

Ratnam is widely credited with having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema.[3] Ratnam has won five Filmfare Awards (South), four Filmfare Awards (Hindi), and twelve international film festival awards.[4] His Tamil movie Nayagan, Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy and Guru Dutt's Pyaasa are the only Indian films to have appeared in TIME Magazine's All-Time 100 Greatest Movies.[5][6] His film Roja was the only Indian film to feature in TIME Magazine's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time.[7]

Maniratnam with His Wife, Actress – Director Suhasini

With A R Rahman – The Legends

Roja is actually the story of Savitri and Satyavan retold and that the relationship of the brothers in Dhalapathi is in fact drawn from the story of Karna and Arjuna. And I admire how it is that in almost every film he has made, he wrestles with shades of grey.


Raavan – Tamil 

  – Rajini and Mammotty


Nayakan (1987), was also arguably his greatest. A take-off on Francis Ford Coppola' legendary The Godfather (1972), it established Ratnam as the leading director of Tamil-language Cinema and won its leading actor Kamal Hassan the National Award for Best Actor. The film draws on 30 years of Tamil Nadu's celebrity images and directly played to the anti-Hindi feelings of Tamil Nadu when the protagonist, beaten up, tells the Hindi policeman in Bombay, "If I ever hit you, you will die!"


The was Roja (1992) that made Ratnam a household name all over India. A patriotic love story set against the backdrop of Kashmiri terrorism, the film was dubbed in Hindi and became a huge national success. It enforced Ratnam as a director of style and substance, as well as proving a highly auspicious debut for the now-acclaimed music director A.R. Rahman, whom Ratnam had discovered. It helped that India's at-the-time election commissioner T. N. Seshan took the rare step of officially endorsing the film. Thiruda Thiruda (1993), a remake of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) was a misfire, but Ratnam bounced back with Bumbai (1995), a politically charged romance between a Hindu man and a Muslim woman during the1993 riots in Mumbai. The film underwent some controversy due to its slightly anti-Muslim viewpoint, but it contributed widely to the success of the film.

Continuing his political obsession, Ratnam made 
Iruvar (1997), based on the MGR-Karunanidhi affair, and Dil Se.. (1998), which starred superstars Manisha Koirala and Shahrukh Khan. The latter was Ratnam's first Hindi-language film. Based on the northeast Indian problem, it told the story of a radio executive and a revolutionary. It had an excellent cast, beautifully crafted scenes, and most of all one of A.R. Rahman's greatest tunes–but did not go down too well with the audience, who hailed it as a strange and confusing film that headed nowhere. However, today it is held as ahead of its time, being that it was shot pre-9/11, and is now hailed as a contemporary classic.

The man who revolutionized Tamil-language cinema, Mani Ratnam is the biggest director in south India and one of the most respected directors in all of India. Each of his films contain its own unique style, with beautifully photographed songs and unique back-lighting. However, his films contain substance as well as style–Ratnam has dealt with a wide variety of topics, from the classic Indian love story to political thrillers.


When ever you talk of Mani Ratnam you are obliged or rather compelled to talk about his film’s music in as many pages as you talk about his direction. The music in Mani Rathnam’s film is worth special chapters in the history of Tamil cinema. Be it for the special songs or the magnificent picturisation or the right placement, the songs of Mani Ratnam films are very special.


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Shankar [Above]