Press Trust of India
October 29, 2012 11:50 IST
Mani Ratnam says he was interested in cinema only as a viewer.
Noted filmmaker Mani Ratnam, who has
given some landmark films including Roja, Bombay and Dil
Se, says he was enjoying his life as a well-paid management
consultant after finishing MBA from a top B-school 35 years
ago when chance gave him an entry into the world of films.
"It was an accident. I was interested in cinema only as a
viewer. I never thought I'd take it up as a career. I never
thought I would sit and write and actually direct films," the
director says in a new book 'Conversations with Mani Ratnam'.
The book, based on the filmmaker's freewheeling
interactions with film critic Baradwaj Rangan, published by
Penguin, reveals how the reticent man who went on to deliver
gems in Hindi and Tamil films switched over to cinema.
During the seventies, Ratnam was so fed up of watching
sub-standard Tamil films that he decided to push the bar
"Even now I feel that if enough good Tamil films were
made, I wouldn't become a filmmaker," the acclaimed filmmaker,
favoured both by critics and the box-office, says.
Besides those by Balachander and Mahendran, he says,
"The rest of the films, predominantly, were not good. Tamil
cinema had stagnated. The films were so ordinary and without
any flair that you felt you could do better even if you didn't
know anything about cinema".
When his friend Ravi Shankar was making a Kannada film
in 1979, the 56-year-old Ratnam had his first brush with the
visual medium as he helped him in the script.
"Up to that point in my life, except for writing a few
letters occasionally to my father from the hotel asking for
money, I had not done any form of creative writing," he
This stint in script-writing proved to be career-changing
for him as he decided to direct films.
"That's when I thought I'd write a script, sell it to a
director, work alongside and learn everything about direction,
and then I thought I would be ready for a full-fledged career
"In the worst case scenario, I could go back and get a
job. But that was just insurance. Once you get bitten by this
bug, you get seriously bitten," he said.
His first film was the Anil Kapoor starrer Kannada film
Pallavi Anupallavi in 1983.
Striking a fine balance between art and commerce, he went
on make films in many south Indian languages and his Tamil
classic Nayakan is among Time magazine's '100 best movies
Although some his works like Yuva and Bombay have
touched upon various issues affecting the society, Ratnam
insists he is not attempting to give any messages.
"I don't make movies to give messages. Films are about
sharing an experience or sharing your angst or your concerns
about something with a larger group of people," he said.
Offering readers a peek into the mind of the auteur, the
book examines the evolution of Mani Ratnam's works taking
one film at a time.