Birth: 02-06-1956, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Mani Ratnam is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer who predominantly works in Tamil cinema, based in Chennai. Widely regarded as one of the leading directors in Indian cinema, he made his directorial debut with the Kannada film Pallavi Anu Pallavi in 1983. Despite a commercial failure the film earned critical acclaim and fetched an award for the screenplay at the Karnataka State Film Awards. Ratnam's following efforts were the Malayalam film Unaru (1984), and the Tamil films Pagal Nilavu and Idhaya Kovil—both in 1985. He came into prominence after Mouna Ragam, a story that dealt with the friction between a newly–wed couple. He followed that with the Godfatheresque Nayagan (1987) that went on to gain national acclaim. The film was among the three Indian films to be named by Time magazine's list of All-Time 100 Greatest Movies.
Ratnam entered Telugu cinema with the romantic drama Geethanjali (1989). Anjali released in 1990, story of a mentally disabled child, was submitted by India for the Academy Award consideration in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. He is well-known for his "terrorism trilogy" consisting of Roja (1992), Bombay (1995) and Dil Se.. (1998). Ratnam is widely credited with having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema.
Ratnam is married to actress Suhasini. In 2002 he was honoured with the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award given by the Government of India. Ratnam has won several film awards, including six National Film Awards. In addition to these, he is a recipient of a number of awards at various international film festivals.
Mani Ratnam was born as Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam in Madurai, Madras State, the present day Tamil Nadu. His father, Ratnam Iyer, was a film producer who worked under the banner of the production company Venus Pictures. Ratnam grew up in Chennai, doing his schooling there completed his graduation with a degree in commerce at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College which is affiliated with Madras University, Chennai and then obtained an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, after which he worked as a management consultant before becoming a filmmaker. Ratnam had two brothers—G. Venkateswaran and G. Srinivasan—both of them film producers. The former was a prominent personality who produced many of Ratnam's films, Mouna Ragam, Nayagan, Agni Natchathiram, Thalapathi, and Anjali, later committed suicide in 2003, reportedly because of financial problems. His younger brother, G. Srinivasan died in an accident while trekking in Manali on 27 May 2007. In 1988 Ratnam married Suhasini, the niece of Kamal Haasan and daughter of Charuhasan. Suhasini is a National Award-winning actress and a well-known filmmaker as well. They have a son named Nandhan Maniratnam. Charuhasan, his father-in-law, is a National Award-winning actor. Ratnam lives in Alwarpet, Chennai, where he runs Madras Talkies, his production company. Maniratnam rarely gives interview and hasn't been much outspoken about his religious views. However, sources working closely with him discuss that he is an atheist.
Like most of his contemporaries, Ratnam handled screenplay for a majority of his films. Right from the beginning of his career, his works were noted for their technical expertise in areas such as cinematography, art direction, editing and background score. For his debut film, he managed to handpick Balu Mahendra, Thotta Tharani, B. Lenin and Ilaiyaraaja, leading craftsmen in their respective fields. As Ratnam's career progressed, he worked with P. C. Sreeram and continued his collaborations with him till Geethanjali. In 1991 for his film Thalapathi, Ratnam chose Santosh Sivan and Suresh Urs—both newcomers to the Tamil film industry—to do cinematography and editing respectively. Both would later go onto become a part of his regular crew. While working on Raavan, Santosh noted "any cameraman can hone his skills just working with [Ratnam]" and described Ratnam's films as difficult to film. From his debut project till Thalapathi, Ilaiyaraaja was Ratnam's regular composer. The duo split due to some creative differences after the film. For his next film Roja, he collaborated with debutant A. R. Rahman. He has also worked with other cinematographers such as Rajiv Menon and Ravi K. Chandran while also switching between Sreeram and Santosh Sivan. Starting with Alaipayuthey, Sreekar Prasad has been his regular film editor for all his films till date.
Ratnam is highly credited for having revolutionised the Tamil film industry and altering the profile of Indian cinema. He has made films with a variety of genres and a majority of his films are characterized by a string of Socio-political themes. It was mainly because of this most of his films have garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success. With his idea of combining art and commercial elements, Ratnam was referred for bringing new dimension to the South Asian film industry. Many of his films have taken inspirations from real-life incidents such as Nayagan, Bombay, Iruvar and films like Thalapathi and Raavan were based on Indian epics. He is lauded for his casting in each of his films—he said in an interview, "I am not a director who performs and shows. I discuss the role, the scene with my actors and let them bring life to it".
Ratnam is also well recognised outside India with a retrospective of his films held at various film festivals around the world such as Toronto International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Tokyo Filmex and Birmingham International Film Festival. His films are being screened regularly at many film festivals such as Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Rotterdam Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival. Ratnam's aspiration towards films grew up watching films of K. Balachander, Guru Dutt and Sivaji Ganesan. His is greatly influenced by the film-making styles of Akira Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Ingmar Bergman. The Government of India honoured Ratnam with Padma Shri in 2002. He has won several National Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, Filmfare Awards South and state awards. Apart from these awards, many of his films have been screened at various film festivals and have won numerous accolades. Geethanjali, directed by him won the Golden Lotus Award for Best Popular Film at the 37th National Film Awards. Other films like Mouna Ragam, Anjali, and Kannathil Muthamittal have won the Best Regional Film awards at the National Film Awards. Two of his films, Roja and Bombay have won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. The former was also nominated for Best Film category at the 18th Moscow International Film Festival. In 2010, Ratnam was honoured with Jaeger-Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker at the 67th Venice International Film Festival.