Mani Ratnam Birthday (Photo Credit: File Image)
In cinema, we come across filmmakers who, how much hard they try, can never make awful movie. Their ‘bad’ films are only highly flawed films that couldn’t survive the bundle of expectations heaped upon them. Mani Ratnam is one such director. The Tamil filmmaker is known for his amazing human dramas that transcend the barriers of language and tell a story that is relatable to someone in Guwahati as much as a person in Thanjavur. Think SS Rajamouli broke boundaries with his Baahubali movies? Ratnam did that way back in the ’90s with Roja and Bombay, that too at a fraction of Baahubali‘s budget. Mob Lynching in India: Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma, Mani Ratnam and 46 Others Write Open Letter to PM Narendra Modi.
While Tamil cinema has been his favourite workplace, Mani Ratnam had actually made his debut in Kannada cinema with the 1983 film Pallavi Anu Pallavi. The movie has Anil Kapoor in the lead, before he made it big in Bollywood. Pallavi Anu Pallavi received critical acclaim and Ratnam then moved to Kollywood and directed classics like Mouna Ragam, Nayakan, Agni Natchathiram, Thalapathi, Kannathil Muthamittal, Alaipayuthey. He also made a Malayalam film, Unaru, starring Mohanlal in the lead, that revolved around labour union conflicts in Kerala. Not to mention, four Hindi movies in Dil Se…, Yuva, Guru, and Raavan. Ponniyin Selvan: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Next with Mani Ratnam Will Release in 2021, Director Will Shoot in One Go to Meet the Deadline.
Yuva and Raavan were bilinguals that were also shot in Tamil as Aayutha Ezhuthu and Raavanan respectively with variation in the cast. As mentioned before, Roja and Bombay were big hits in Bollywood even in their dubbed versions. The same goes for Anjali, Ratnam’s fantastic effort in children’s cinema, whose dubbed version also got attention.
Beyond these films, Bollywood also found inspiration in Ratnam’s other masterpieces. As Mani Ratnam turns an year older on June 2, let’s check out the six times Bollywood filmmakers found his films inspiring enough to get them remade.
Revathy and Karthik in Mouna Ragam
Mouna Ragam, that was released in 1986, is still considered as one of the finest dramas on romance and marriage in Indian cinema. Starring Revathy, Mohan and Karthik, the movie is about a girl who is married to a businessman in an arranged marriage alliance, but couldn’t just let go off her past involving a lover. Mouna Ragam is essentially considered as Ratnam’s breakout success and paved way for his acceptance in mainstream cinema. Mani Ratnam Birthday Special: From Rajinikanth’s Thalapathy to R Madhavan’s Alaipayuthey, 5 Classics Made By The Legend That Can Be Rewatched for Eternity.
The Remake: Kasak
Six years later, K Bapaiah remade Mouna Ragam in Hindi as Kasak, with Neelam, Rishi Kapoor and Chunkey Pandey in the lead. Kasak, however, failed to garner the same critical acclaim and box office success as the original.
Kamal Haasan and Saranya in Nayakan
Influenced a little by Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II, Nayakan is considered as one of the best gangster dramas ever made in Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan is scintillating as the titular anti-hero, who is pushed into the world of crime much against his wishes and rises through the ranks to be a powerful don. He won the National Film Award for Best Actor. Nayakan was also considered by Time in its “All-Time 100 Best Films”, the only Indian movie to do so.
The Remake: Dayavan
Madhuri Dixit and Vinod Khanna in Dayavan
There is a reason why Bollywood should never attempt to remake classics from other languages. The nuances and subtleties get lost in translation and what is left is merely a soulless ripoff. Which is the case with Dayavan, directed by Feroz Khan, who also has a supporting role in the film. Vinod Khanna steps into Kamal Haasan’s shoes in the pretty okayish remake, that is mostly remembered for his steamy kissing scene with a much younger Madhuri Dixit.
Karthik, Amala and Prabhu in Agni Natchathiram
Agni Natchathiram is a thriller about two warring half-brothers who unite when their father falls in trouble. When it came out in 1988, Agni Natchathiram was praised for its visual flair, Ratnam’s direction, the performances and Ilaiyaraaja’s music. The movie starred Prabhu, Karthik, Amala Akkineni and Nirosha.
The Remake: Vansh
The Poster of Vansh
Director Pappu Verma remade Agni Natchathiram in 1992 as Vansh with Sudesh Berry and the late Siddharth Ray in the lead. It was mostly a faithful remake of the original, though lacking the finesse that made the Tamil film such a cult classic. Vansh was, however, a decent hit at the box office. Interestingly in 2016, there was a news going on that Agni Natchathiram would be remade in Bollywood again and that Dhanush would play one of the leads. However, that rumour died a silent demise and we haven’t heard about this project since.
Nagarjuna and Girija in Geethanjali
Another romantic classic by Mani sir, that was a bilingual made in both Telugu and Tamil. Even before the world was fawning over Nicholas Sparks’ The Fault in Our Stars, Ratnam has his own wonderful story to say of two young lovers, both afflicted by terminal illness and find strength in each other. Nagarjuna plyed the hero, while Girija Shettar of Vandanam fame is the female lead. The songs of the film are still popular, especially the “Oh Priya Priya!” track, (that was rehashed in Dil starring Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit, a year later).
The Remake: Yaad Rakhegi Duniya
Aditya Pancholi and Rukhsar in Yaad Rakhegi Duniya
Aditya Pancholi and Rukhsar played the lovers in Bollywood’s remake of the film, that came out in 1992 and was directed by Deepak Anand. The movie tanked at the box office, but the songs were popular then.
Shalini with Madhavan in Alaipayuthey
The movie that made stars out of R Madhavan and Shalini and showed Ratnam can be a bit bubbly, if he wants to. Madhavan and Shalini played young lovers who elope and get married after facing stiff opposition from their families. But Alaipayuthey, that came out in 2000, was different from the usual romantic films – it showed the life beyond the ‘happily ever-after’ part that is more challenging than the courtship period. Which is what makes Alaipayuthey so relatable. And yes, it has an amazing soundtrack by AR Rahman. Fun fact – most of the song titles in the film inspired future movie names. R Madhavan Birthday: From an Unseen Hindi Debut to a Zombie Film, 7 Film Appearances of the 3 Idiots Actor That You Weren’t Aware Of!
The Remake: Saathiya
Vivek Oberoi and Rani Mukerji in Saathiya
There is no doubt that Saathiya is the most faithful, most successful and most acclaimed remake in this list. Directed by Shaad Ali, who worked as an assistant under Mani Ratnam, had made his directorial debut with Saathiya, that was produced by both Ratnam and YRF. The movie made a romantic star out of Vivek Oberoi, who made a gritty debut earlier in Company. Rani Mukerji was fabulous in the film as the female lead. Also noteworthy are the cameos by Shah Rukh Khan and Tabu, paired for the first time. (Arvind Swamy and Khusbu Sundar did the same roles in the original).
O Kadhal Kanmani
Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen in O Kadhal Kanmani
If Alaipayuthey was breezy, then this is breezier. If Alaipayuthey was about life after marriage, then O Kadhal Kanmani was about live-in relationships. O Kadhal Kanmani was Mani Ratnam’s attempt to click with the younger generation, which was also kinda the film’s weakness as he struggles a bit to get the connect. This is the only film in this list where it was the actors – Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen – who fabulously drove the movie to its finishing point, instead of the narrative. And yeah, Rahman’s score is LIT!
The Remake: OK Jaanu
Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor in OK Jaanu
Like I mentioned in the previous para, OK Kanmani wasn’t one of Mani Ratnam’s finest efforts and it was the pairing of the lead stars that worked in its favour. Sadly, in the case of its Hindi remake, again directed by Shaad Ali, Aditya Roy Kapur and Shraddha Kapoor couldn’t bring the same magic. despite their best efforts, and the movie tanked at the box office.
Mani Ratnam is in the works on his next, Ponniyin Selvan, which is also his first attempt at a historical film and also his most ambitious. The movie has an ensemble cast in Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Parthieban, Jayaram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Trisha, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Amitabh Bachchan and Ashwin Kakumanu. His last release was Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, a crime thriller starring Silambarasan, Vijay Sethupathi, Aravind Swami, Arun Vijay, Jyothika, Aditi Rao Hydari, Aishwarya Rajesh, Dayana Erappa, and Prakash Raj.