Mani Ratnam's Instagram live: A first-of-its-kind interaction of the director with fans and celebs
Mani Ratnam went live on Instagram with his wife Suhasini and answered questions from many celebrities and fans
Mani Ratnam did something atypical of his reserved demeanor, something even extroverts would be hesitant to do - he went live on Instagram! The director interacted with fans through his wife Suhasini’s social media account.
Suhasini hosted the event, and from the conversation, it is learnt that Mani Ratnam even helped to set the lighting for the interaction. Hundreds of fans sent videos of themselves asking questions to the idol, and many of these were aspiring filmmakers who said that Mani Ratnam was the reason behind their career choice. The director said that while he might have influenced them, he could in no way take responsibility for whatever they make. The director kept up this light-hearted sarcastic tone all through the live session.
Apart from Mani Ratnam, a few other celebrities, including Madhavan, Aditi Rao Hydari, and Khushbu Sundar, also joined the live event and asked about his filmmaking decisions. Khushbu’s daughter Anandita getting emotional and Madhavan asking about the iconic dialogue from Alaipaayuthey (which is celebrating its 20th anniversary) were some of the highlights of the event.
Here are some excerpts from the interaction:
Interaction with Madhavan: Suhasini said Madhavan changed Mani Ratnam’s life by introducing him to golf. Maddy said, “When he first saw me play golf, he asked 'Why are you playing an old man’s game?'” But when the actor challenged Mani to outdo him at the game, he ‘beat the crap out of’ Maddy.
Madhavan went on to ask about the popular dialogue: Nee azhaga irukanu nenikala. He asked how Mani let such a filmy dialogue, something so very different from his style, be part of the film. Mani, in response, asked him to ‘go watch Iruvar’. He then said that he was more worried about filming the scene as soon as possible since he had the two trains for only a few hours.
Insta with Anu Haasan: Suhasini’s sister Anu Haasan joined the interaction saying, “Coffee With Anu thaan nadakala, Insta With Anu nadakattum.” She had some rapid-fire questions for the director. Here is how it went:
- Mani’s Definition of a good holiday: Anything other than lockdown
- Lessons he learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic - Being in zen mode
- Is it easier to deal with experienced actors or actor-directors? - When the person has come to act, they are an actor no matter if he/she is a director or not. I treat them as an actor. Both are equally difficult, anyway.
- Things that are amusing about Suhasini - Paerae apdi thaan iruku.
- Unbearable things about Haasan women - They are quiet. (sarcastically)
Actor Poonam Dhillon: Does Mani Ratnam pick extraordinary actors or change normal actors into extraordinary ones?
I normally plead and tell them, ‘Please act well’. Sometimes, they do the exact opposite of what I ask for. But we let it stay if it serves the purpose. We search together to find the right thing. It is not a technique, it is actually a search.
Khushbu Sundar: How do you manage to impress all generations? I am your fan and so is my daughter.
These are secrets that I will not tell. It is like a magic potion and you don’t reveal the secret.
Aditi Rao Hydari: How it is that you find the right actor for the role?
I am looking for somebody who will give me the least trouble. It should also feel right. You don’t always end with your first choice. Good casting is actually half the work done. I am not looking for someone who does exactly what I say. He/she has to put in something extra.
He also took some questions from the fans:
Why don’t you do series or films for OTT and television mediums?
If I have been playing tennis for 20 years and you ask me to play football, it won’t work. One should do what they are good at.
If you want to make a sequel to one of your films, what film would you choose?
We are doing Ponniyin Selvan in two parts.
Will you write a role for Suhasini in your films and will you make a socio-political film?
It has to be a natural process. I will not start out saying I am going to write a role for Suhaasini. Same with making a socio-political film. If it has to happen, it will happen.
Have you ever wanted to act? Have your friends asked you to act?
Suhasini: Rajinikanth's daughter asked once.
Mani Ratnam: But I said no, only because it is better this way.
Neenga Nallavaraa kettavara?
A special person from whom he expects approval for his films.
Every good comment matters. Even if we seem nonchalant about it, everything makes a difference. It is good to know when somebody says, ‘This is good’. The same goes for negative feedback also; you will know what went wrong.
What is your next project after Ponniyin Selvan?
I am currently trying to write a script. But it hasn’t moved an inch forward. That will be in Hindi.
If there is a divine power that can answer any question, what will you ask?
Let me be honest, I will ask, 'Where have you been all this time? Where have you been hiding?'
How are you spending the time in COVID-19 lockdown and what contribution are you making to society at this time?
My biggest contribution is staying at home. Being patient, being in zen mode, trying to write. Not worrying much. Hoping tomorrow will be fine.
Has he cried on the sets?
I have made people cry, but if I cry it doesn’t serve the purpose. But while working with children, I have been worried about how their next day would be… the impact the film would have on their lives. I don’t cry, maybe I scream.
How do you choose the cinematographers?
I am interested in someone who is also into the story I want to tell. Not just cinematography. For me, the cinematographer is like the first box that I have to check before starting a film.