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ratnam

I would confess before starting that I would not claim myself as a big fan of Maniratnam, but I would not deny the fact that I had a strong liking for his films and there was a sense of inquisitiveness to know more and this book was the perfect tool.  The structure of this book is in an interview format and Bharadwaj Rangan comes with all guns blazing with some intelligent, stupid and sometimes adolescent questions; and the ever intangible Maniratnam seemed to brace on to them and answer them with equal poise and a pinch of cynicism at times.  In the process, we get to know the underlying layer of the craft and finesse that Mani spins across all his scripts including the finer details like blending of emotions with music, lighting, camera angles and stuff like that.

In freewheeling conversations, frank, witty, contemplative, and sometimes combative, many aspects of his films are explored.  Mani elaborates in a personal vein on his choice of themes, from the knottiness in urban relationships to the rents in the national fabric.  His directing of children in Anjali.  His artful use of songs; his innovative use of lighting, as also his making films in Hindi and other languages. The delectable behind the scenes stories from the contrasting working styles of the legendary composer Ilayaraja and Rahman to the unexpected dimensions Kamal Haasan brought to the filming of Nayakan to what Raavan was like when originally conceived.  In short, like Mani Ratnam’s films, conversations with Mani Ratnam, surprises, entertains and stimulates.  In nutshell, this book could be defined as an opulent treat for serious lovers of cinema as well as the casual moviegoer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Baradwaj Rangan is a National Award-winning film critic, currently Deputy Editor at the Hindu.  His writings on cinema, music, art, books, travel and humour have been published in various national magazines like Open, Tehelka, Biblio, Outlook and the Caravan.  He teaches a course on cinema at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

MY TAKE:  I think this is the finest conversation ever recorded by a film critic and a filmmaker.  Very few filmmakers in the world have articulated themselves with such precision.  Mani Ratnam does it with no references to any philosophical systems or theoretical positions.  There is a certain kind of honesty and sincerity in purpose which Baradwaj Rangan has managed to bring about and that is very important for all aspiring filmmakers to learn from in this book.  Few filmmakers acknowledge their own trepidation in the way Mani confesses in his introduction to the book.  Even the opponents of Mani will acknowledge the courage that Mani has shown in exposing his techniques and strategies to the lay reader.  If you are a big fan of Mani and you enjoyed all his movies, you would love this book.  And I bet after reading about each movie, you would want to watch the movie again to observe the amount of detail that was actually put in each storyline.  This book has also changed my point of view on Mani's films.

 

DETAILS:

BOOK:  Conversations with Mani Ratnam

AUTHOR:  Baradwaj Rangan, A. R. Rahman

PUBLISHER:  Viking

NUMBER OF PAGES:  352

LANGUAGE:  English

PRICE:  Rs. 799

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