Learning on the Job


Mani Ratnam, on why he can't make a film with Amitabh Bachchan or Rajinikanth and the censorship process in India

For a young man coming from a family which earned a living from movies (his father and two brothers being film producers), Mani Ratnam knew little about the process of filmmaking. But three decades and 20 films later, the Chennai-based filmmaker has reached an uncrowded place that is occupied by only select members of his tribe. Mani has just finished collaborating with journalist Baradwaj Rangan to bring out his story in a book called 'Conversations with Mani Ratnam', and is about to wind up his new film 'Kadal'. Excerpts from an interview with The Indian Express:

Q: How did it all began?

A: When I started, I didn't know how to make a film. I just knew I wanted to; it was more of a desire and wanting more than knowing. My learning has been on the job. I stumbled but found a way.

Q: Your first film was in Kannada, second in Malayalam, then one in Telugu and many in Hindi. How do you cross the language barrier?

A: I have no issues in making films in some other languages. It takes very little in India to go anywhere and understand what is required for that particular culture. Fundamentally it is very similar. The surface level is different, for which you have to get somebody good with that particular dialect, customs and behaviour. If somebody from UK can come here and make 'Gandhi', 'Slumdog Millionaire' or David Lean's 'A Passage to India', you should not hesitate to go from here to the North East and do a film. You don't have to restrict yourself. We have Shekhar Kapoor who made 'Elizabeth'. Sometimes an outsider's view helps. There are no rules in this game.

... contd.

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