The Tamil Romance Ponniyin Selvan, written by well-known author Kalki R Krishnamurthy, has dominated the imagination of readers in Tamil for several decades. The novel, which was first published in Tamil magazine Kalki in the early 1950s, it is among the top sellers at the Chennai Book Fair every year. The book, which is a fiction based on Chola’s story, has always caught the attention of filmmakers. In the 1970s, the former chief minister and leading actor MGR wanted to make Ponniyin Selvan in a movie. So, in the 90s, artist Kamal Haasan came down to make a movie out of it. But all the projects fell apart.
But now director Mani Ratnam more or less got the project amidst great difficulty (pandemic), and the movie teaser was released amid fanfare a few days ago. Ponniyin Selvan has a cast that includes Vikram, Karthi, Jeyam Ravi, Jayaram, Vikram Prabhu, Prakashraj, Trisha, Aishwarya Lakshmi, and not to forget Aishwarya Rai.
Since Mani Ratnam is the talk of the town, so to speak, here’s a list of her movies on Netflix to better understand her aesthetic. Ponniyin Selvanwhich features music by AR Rahman, is due for release on September 30th.
This is a touching love story that begins in the countryside of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, but traverses the cultural melting pot of Bombay. Interfaith love marriage in the Bombay setting that is afflicted by the bloody community riots of the 1990s is typically Mani Ratnam territory — a compelling tale of human emotions surrounding a broader political situation. AR Rahman’s music and songs in the film are another highlight.
Bombs were dropped (opens in new tab) by alleged Muslim groups in his home and the director had to be hospitalized after the release of this film.
Dil Se (1998)
Although his films were popular in India, and films like red and Bombay had done well in the Hindi dubbed version, Dil Se marked Mani’s Bollywood debut. Dil if, which did not do so well commercially, is now considered an underrated classic in his work. The film, part of what is called the terrorism trilogy (the other two are red and Bombay), addresses the rarely discussed issue in India: Terrorism in the Northeast. This film, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Manisha Koirala and Preity Zinta, is set against the backdrop of the insurgency and ULFA-type terrorism in Assam.
Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)
Mani and his fascination with places ravaged by terrorism won yet another game in this film. the film, which begins in Chennai, spreads to the violence-torn forests of Sri Lanka. The story is about a child, who is of Sri Lankan Tamil descent but adopted by a couple in Chennai. The child wants to meet his birth mother in the midst of the Sri Lankan Civil War. It also sparked some controversy for the way it portrayed the ethnic conflict in Lanka. The film won a record six National Film Awards, the highest set of any Tamil film (the other being adukalam).
A controversial subject. And a director who does not shy away from addressing controversial issues. Guru, on the life and times of Dhirubhai Ambani, the patriarch of the Reliance empire, stirred up some wasp nests. But Mani, with his typical dexterity. Of course, there was also some criticism that Mani kind of airbrushed some aspects of Ambani’s life. Of course, in a country like India with a sensitive audience, it’s almost impossible to show popular personalities with warts and all on screen. Aside from the movie, it was around the movie’s release that the main pair of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai got married. Their on-screen chemistry really showed.
OK Kanmani (2015)
Mani Ratnam is a director who is always interested in aspects of the relationship between a woman and a man after marriage. It’s one of his fascinating themes. We saw this among his early, and what is considered to be, his groundbreaking film, Mouna ragam. Another film that dealt with this theme was his Alaipayuthey. The Kadhal Kanmani can be said to complete this relationship trilogy. The film tackles the subject of live relationships without exactly pushing the envelope. In the end, it was a romantic caper full of frothy fun. Of course, he was covered with great music, courtesy of his longtime co-runner AR Rahman.
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