Mani Ratnam: The pandemic cannot be an excuse to make bad movies

It is known that Mani Ratnam He is a man of few words, and the director reiterated this fact in a recent media interaction about his upcoming movie Bonin Sylvan 1. Although the director kept his answer brief, he also touched on topics such as why Vikram’s Aditya Karikalan is at the forefront of the film instead of Jayam Ravi’s Arulmozhi Varman, the support he received from Jeyamohan, who worked during the pandemic, and his first choice for a Nandini character before Aishwarya Rai .

Excerpts from the conversation:

How would Tamil be in Punyen Sylvan, given that the novel uses a form of Tamil that is not in use now?

We tried to use the same pure Tamil in the dialogues. Jeyamohan (the talk show writer) only gave us dialogues in pure Tamil, but they are presented in a way that is easy for the actors to express.

Is this modification your interpretation of Amar Kalki’s novel or is it an honest representation?

It will be both. I admire Bunyan Sylvan’s novel and Kalki’s writing. I’m also a fan I was sitting this side of the table. So, Kalki will reflect, but will also have some of my explanations and presentation.

Have you ever used this story as inspiration for your previous work?

In Thalapathy, there is the song “Sundari Kanaal Oru Sedhi”, where Shobana is waiting for Rajinikanth’s song. The entire sequence is inspired by Poonguzhali’s waiting for Arulmozhi Varman.

What is your reason for choosing?

When I read Ponniyin Selvan, I didn’t think I’d make a movie based on it. I went through the same experience as everyone else, I had my own version of characters in my head. When it comes to making a movie, I thought these actors would fit in somewhat of the roles. Once I started working with them, they had access to the characters.

Is the shooting of Ponniyin Selvan 2 over? When will it be issued?

Yes, filming is over. After the first part is out, it will take six to eight months to get the second part out. In the meantime, the visual effects work will be completed.

Audience tastes are constantly changing and film makers complain that it is difficult to adapt to changing trends. Did you add or do something to make the movie more audience-friendly now?

I didn’t add anything specific to the movie. It was better to do the movie in parts or series because one movie wasn’t enough to cover it all. So, I think it’s a good thing that the novel hasn’t been made into a movie before. I think it’s time for a Ponniyin Selvan movie because we’re making it in at least two parts.

Is Aditha Karikalan (Vikram) your favorite character, because he seems to be more on top than Ponniyin Selvan (Jayam Ravi) in all posters and promotions?

If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that Ponniyin Selvan got into the story pretty late. So, we wanted to travel the same way we travel.

After the trailer was released, I had received some negative comments. Did the comments make you want to change something in the movie?

The trailer is just a glimpse into the movie, and negative comments are best ignored as the entire movie is yet to be released. People make assumptions about the entire movie just by looking at the trailer. So, if a filmmaker thinks he’s done his best, you don’t have to worry about anything else.

Are you thinking of anyone else for a Nandini character other than Aishwarya Rai?

As Sir Ragini said that day (at the sound launch of PS I), Rekha was someone I had thought of before. After that, it was always Aishwarya Rai, who I thought was the best choice for this role.

Who tortured you more and who tortured more in groups?

Everyone tortured me and I tortured everyone.

A few words about the writer, Jiamohan, who wrote the dialogue in the film.

The only thing I was concerned about the movie was the dialogues. I wanted it to be pure Tamil but it should be simple and support acting. However, Jeyamohan completely fixed it this way. His contribution to the film is enormous. In Kalki’s novel, all the characters are well embodied. If you take Sundara Cholan, through a book you can write a lot about it and how powerful it is. But with cinema, you can’t tell everything. So, every dialogue becomes important. Jeyamohan make all the fonts reflect their personalities.

There is an obligation for celebrities to be present on social media. Even Vikram joined Twitter recently. Do you have a fear of getting lost or how to update yourself?

If you are in the moment and aware of everything that is happening around you, you will be updated. For creative people, everything around them is a story, and no one can miss it. And… social media is not my sight.

Have you ever felt that without the pandemic, you could have shot the movie in a better way?

The one thing I’ve been worried about during the pandemic is that the actors shouldn’t be weighing themselves down. I kept texting the actors, keeping them in check. I’ll say, “Hi, Trisha, how are you?” But I can’t use the pandemic as an excuse. The pandemic has infected everyone, not just me. It is not at all an argument to say that I could have made a better movie had it not been for the pandemic. Our mission is to deliver against all odds. I can’t release the movie in theaters, and I go and tell everyone there, “Because of the pandemic, the movie has become the way.”


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