The ace director Mani Ratnam received the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the ongoing 67th Venice Film Festival late last night(September 6, 2010 – Monday). The ceremony was followed by a screening of Raavanan in Tamil. Happily so, for, of the two versions — the other being in Hindi– the one in Tamil with actor Vikram is by far the best.
Vikram, who plays the role that Abhishek essays in the Hindi Raavan, was also present at the ceremony. Curiously, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, who appear in both the Hindi and Tamil editions, were not to be seen. Raavan was also screened at the Festival.
The award is a tribute to Ratnam’s achievements. He is one of the few helmers in southern India, more so in Tamil Nadu, who broke away from the melodramatic histrionics of men like Sivaji Ganesan. The theatrical influence was so strong in the late actor that he often treated cinema as an extension of the stage.
One of Ratnam’s earliest movies made in 1986, Mouna Ragam with Revathy and Mohan was critically praised as a realistic portrayal of urban Tamils.
Then came Nayagan with Kamal Hassan playing Godfather of sorts. Inspired by the true story of the Tamil underworld don settled in Mumbai, Varadaraja Mudaliar, the film was India’s official choice for the 1987 Oscars. Though it did not even make it to the foreign lingo shortlist, Nayagan is undoubtedly one of Ratnam’s finest movies. Perhaps, the best in his basket, and Hassan contributed in no small measure to this feather in Ratnam’s cap.
Ratnam made several movies after that. Some did not make a mark at all. Some did, and among his most notable ones were Alaipayuthey, where Madhavan and Shalini portray a couple who go through marital upheavals. Personal and intimate, this film, much like Mouna Ragam, showed Ratnam at his best.
The helmer made other movies, a few inspired by real life characters. His 1997 Iruvar (which brought Rai to the screen for the first time) was loosely based on the rivalry between two Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers, M.G. Ramachandran and Karunanidhi, who cut their teeth in the same political movement, but later split to form separate parties. Rai is said to have been modelled on Jayaalalitha, a one-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and erstwhile actress who’s pairing with Ramachandran produced many box-office hits.
More recently, Ratnam made Guru with Bachchan playing India’s late business tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani. Rai is his screen wife (his real one too). Although the plot closely resembled Ambani’s life, Ratnam never admitted that his work was based on the businessman. Nobody knew why.
Mani Ratnam is always at his glorious best when he creates small, intimate and even romantic cinema. Perhaps, he should stick to that and give us many, many more hours of joy.
Vikram accompanies Mani Ratnam:
‘Raavanan’ Vikram accompanied Mani Ratnam during the event. After the award ceremony, the festival premiere of ‘Raavanan’ was screened the Sala Grande Palazzo Del Cinema on Monday. Vikram, Mani Ratnam and Suhasini Mani Ratnam walked the red carpet to attend the premiere.
|Actor Vikram Kennedy, Mani Ratnam and Suhasini at 67th Venice Film Festival|
|Actor Vikram Kennedy, director Mani Ratnam and writer Suhasini Maniratnam attend the “Raavanan” photocall during the 67th Venice Film Festival at the Sala Grande Palazzo Del Cinema on September 6, 2010 in Venice, Italy.|
Aishwarya Rai – Abishek were missing in the event due to brand loyalty
It was supposed to be a handsome entourage of the Raavan team. The three principal players Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Vikram were to accompany Mani Ratnam to the Venice Film Festival
It so turns out that Abhishek and Aishwarya would perforce have to opt out of accompanying Mani to the Festival for very practical reasons. One of the Festival’s sponsors is a global watch company that is in direct competition with the two watch brands that Abhishek and Aishwarya endorse.
Being brand ambassadors for Omega and Longines respectively, Abhishek and Aishawrya have no choice but to give this very important day in their favourite director’s life the miss.
Says a source close to Abhishek and Aishwarya, “They were extremely keen to accompany Mani. The award he is getting has earlier gone to the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Takeshi Kitano. Little did they know that such an unexpected road-black awaited their journey to Venice.”
Confirming these unexpected and unfortunate developments Mani Ratnam’s official spokesperson says, “Yes Abhishek and Aishwarya won’t be able to accompany Mani Sir to Venice because of their brand loyalty.”