People talk about Mani Ratnam movies almost everyday at some nook or corner in Telugu and Tamil states, for sure. He will be remembered for decades or until the cinema exists in some form for the many years it does. His impact on filmmaking style and the kind of films he made in Southern Languages of India will always remain lessons for upcoming young generation of filmmakers to ponder upon and for common audiences that will be their dose of entertainment away from regular stuff.
Now, there are highly popular films like Nayakudu, Dalapathy, Gharshana (old), Sakhi and his recent big hit OK Bangaram that Telugu people tend to not forget. Someone or the other watches them on repeats or first the first time to discover and rediscover the masterpiece artworks that he crafted early and recently as a filmmaker. What about rest of his movies? Are they not that interesting? Or are they not as gripping as these films?
Let’s discuss about the ten films from Mani Ratnam, other than the ones we mentioned above, that Telugu people shouldn’t miss
Best Mani Ratnam Movies In Telugu
Amrutha won National Award for the social message that it delivered from the point of view of an young kid who had to grow up in another country away from her birth parents for no mistake of hers, as her parents, especially mother is busy fighting a war. Her father dies on the war front and mother decides give her birth in India as a refuge and then joins the war back in Sri Lanka for Tamil Eelam. Movie was based on the war in Sri Lanka fought by LTTE for a separate Tamil Country.
Indian Tamilians decided to take the side of LTTE but as the leader of the group killed ex-Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi for helping out Sri Lankan Government and refusing to give them refuge in India, country banned the extremist group, labeling them as terrorists. This led to more chaos for Tamil settlers from Sri Lanka to seek refuge in India and they needed to go through strict protocols to establish themselves as harmless citizens only seeking refuge from India as they lost everything to ongoing war. Basing on these circumstances, when the influence of Prabhakaran was at its peak, Mani Ratnam made the film, Amrutha seeking end of war in Sri Lanka.
Simran, Madhavan, PS Keerthana, Prakash Raj, Pasupathy and Nanditha Das gave brilliant performances. Especially, Keerthana who was an young kid back then, gave a spell binding performance as a kid who seeks to meet her birth mother under any circumstances.
Bombay is more popular these days for the music album composed by AR Rahman. Yes, the music from the film is really great. But the love story is beautiful too. The way Mani Ratnam delivers a message in simple way and that too in an effective way, cannot be missed. He made the movie when communal riots in India between two religions were at their peak. He sorted out friendship and love between the two waring groups. Some did not like the message and issued death threats against him.
Aravind Swamy, Manisha Koirala in lead roles played their career best roles. They both belong to these two waring communities and hence, their lives are always in danger of being thrashed away by people who don’t understand life or look at it, as they do. These two lovers had to face their parents wrath for choosing to elope and then they are constantly under society’s judgemental eyes too. Finally, their parents understand their love and they get separated in the riots. So, how do they meet again forms the climax. You need to watch the film for its riveting portrayal of human love and desperation to fight against the hatred.
With this film, Mani Ratnam started making films without stars as he earned enough respect and box office recognition to tell his stories without taking stars but the actors that fit the story. Before this film, like everyone he used to write stories for stars and from this film, he started experimenting more. As Dalapathy film with Rajanikanth became a big box office hit, Mani Ratnam immediately decided to make a small budget film with children in lead roles.
He started making Anjali with Tharun who was 10 years old back then and a popular kid actor with Baby Shamili to tell this story. It is about a “special” kid who is not as fast as others and who is easily mocked for being different. Kids from the family feel ashamed to accept her as their own and the screenplay is about them finally, realising their mistake and accepting her as their own. You have to watch the film for the kids and Raghuvaran, Revathi performances as parents.
Some might get shocked to see this film on the list. Actually, it is still highly popular among older generation audiences as the best love story they saw as kids. But that is not the case for younger generation audiences. They know the songs and they know few scenes that have been mocked or recreated in several recent films but they don’t know the film as well as the older generation do. Hence, for them we had to mention it here
Akkineni Nagarjuna wanted Mani Ratnam to make a film with him and the director after repeated requests came up with this film for Nag. The movie created history at box office for the lead actor and his pairing with new artist Girija remained iconic. She did not act in films after this film but this remains as her best and Nag’s best love story too. Music by Ilaiyaraja from the film is still iconic and highly popular.
This film is not as popular as other films in the list. While it is highly appreciated by critics and revered by a section of fans of the director, the film deserves even better recognition. Without being too direct on the face, it handles the life stories of two big politicians from India as friends who became foes. It is an inspiration for Nag Ashwin to make Mahanati and we can say that by looking at the style the young director used to make his film.
Iddaru has Mohan Lal and Prakash Raj in lead roles and it doesn’t have action sequences or comedy tracks which were the norms of Filmmaking back then. It did disappoint few people who were expecting it to be as gritty as Nayakudu and as smoothly commercial as Dalapathy. But as a film it works because of the style Mani Ratnam adapted to tell the story on screen. The music composed by AR Rahman for this more artistic film is still popular to date.
Yuva is a commercially charged film from Mani Ratnam Pan-India. It takes three stories of youngsters whose lives cross paths with one incident, as main plot. Mani Ratnam crafted a highly compelling story that includes all commercial elements and his political commentary as well. Suriya, Madhavan and Siddharth look dashing and Madhavan as the villain delivered his career best performance.
The climax of the film worked for few and did not work for certain people but it is not as talked about as Nayakudu or Dalapathy. This film deserves applause for its bold content and attempt to be original rather than a copy of several International films. Also, the performances from the lead cast work like magic on the screen.
It has been criminally underrated by many due to its box office performance when it released. This film and Iruvar forced Mani Ratnam to go back to his staple romantic tale like Sakhi. This comedy of errors and heist film deserved far more appreciation from the crowds as it stayed true to the genre and young as well. Audiences of that generation couldn’t understand the sleek screenplay but several from this generation like the film.
We think still think the film deserves much more. Ram Gopal Varma got writing credit for this film but the director denied any huge contribution towards the screenplay from his side, when quizzed recently. Film’s music and story follow pattern that is still new to filmmakers to date. This was called way ahead of its time upon release and even today, it will be rated similarly, as Mani Ratnam did not hesitate from doing everything at his behest as a writer and filmmaker to make this film perfect.
Music album of Dil Se/ Prema Tho is highly popular. But the film in Telugu is not well received. People felt the screenplay was thick and complicated for their taste upon release. While it has some of the best tunes of AR Rahman, it does have best performances from lead cast Shah Rukh Khan, Manisha Koirala and Preity Zinta. As the tone of the movie is not similar to other popular films of that time, it did not work at the box office as much fans of the actors and director expected.
But it earned him International recognition. His other films were sought out by International audiences and the popularity that this film brought him helped his Ravan to premiere at Cannes International Film Festival as well. Film is a must watch for the romance between the leads.
This 1980’s classic made Mani Ratnam what he is today. Young generation seems to not bother about checking this film out. Hence, we are recommending it in this list. As most of the discussions about Mani Ratnam’s films start with Nayakudu and diverge into his other Romantic films, this one seems to have been missed by Telugu youth.
Tamil youth still remember the film and regard it highly. For today’s audiences the story might not come across as new but in 1980’s it was. Still, the execution of the film keeps it real and enjoyable. Revathi, Mohan and Karthik feel like people we encounter in our daily lives than characters created for the film. Ilaiyaraja’s music and BGM are biggest assets for the film.
Nawab/ Chekka Chivantha Vaanam
Nawab did not receive much appreciation from common public while critics lauded it. It was a film from Mani Ratnam for his fans. We can say so, as he decided to make a film that tries to tell stories that he did touch before but in a new screenplay pattern. Film majorly works because of the performances by Simbu, Vijay Sethupathi and Aravind Swamy. Even Arun Vijay, Prakash Raj are very good.
While the film is not anywhere near the best of the director, it deserves you to watch because of the craftsman on display by him and the people involved in it. The ensemble of actors includes brilliant performers like Jyothika, Aditi Rao Hydari and Aishwarya Rajesh too. Film tends to be different and gripping for most part of the runtime and it is better than many recent films too. You will enjoy this gangster drama with a difference for sure.
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