India is making its mark on the West
This weekend from July 31 to August 2, The Museum of the Moving Image is honoring Mani Ratnam, one of the most successful and renowned Indian film directors around, who is known for crafting entertaining, intelligent, and thought provoking films. The Museum of the Moving Image is hosting a special tribute to Ratnam which will feature the director in person with screenings of his famous trilogy of Roja, Bombay, and Dil Se. The films explore Indian politics and culture. This series known as “Politics as Spectacle: The Films of Mani Ratnam” will run from July 31 to August 2 and as a treat Mani Ratnam will participate in a panel conversation after the films.
The Knockturnal sat down with with Ratnam at a special welcoming reception at the Indian Consulate in New York. Read our exclusive interview below:
Q: You are being honored by the Museum of the Moving Image this coming weekend. Can you speak about that recognition and what it is like to have your films and you as a director being honored like this?
A: I think any honor for any filmmaker is welcome, any acknowledgement is welcome but I think that what is special is that it is happening in New York and happening at the Museum of the Moving Image and it is happening in screening films and not digital films so it is wonderful.
Q: And you just talked about what an honor it is being acknowledged in New York and very rarely are Indian films talked about internationally so can you talk about what it is like being an internationally recognized filmmaker and having your films travel across the world?
A: I think it is just a starting point. I think in just a year from now there will be many, many, many more Indian cinemas that will be growing at such a fantastic rate. I think this recognition is just a starting point and there will be so many more.
Q: And a lot of films have a lot of social and political commentary and that is what the museum is recognizing you for this weekend so can you talk about balancing the political and social points with the actual story in your films?
A: I think if you are just doing social messages or political messages then you are actually printing out a bulletin. You are telling a story and invariably a story is the best form of telling whatever emotion that you are trying to convey. So the emphasis is always in the storytelling and if the issue just happens to be social then that gets highlighted and if the issue happens to be political then that gets highlighted or if the issue just happens to be emotional or about relationships or it is philosophical then that gets highlighted, not that you need to do any kind of particular film.
Q: And you have such a long standing and amazing career so who are some people that you really enjoyed working with?
A: I think the biggest advantage as a filmmaker is that — two things, you work with some real talent, real wonderful talent like Mohanlal and Sharukh Khan and A.R. Rahman and all the people I have worked with and all the editors I have worked with and production designers. There are so many creative people who are so good at their jobs and I had the pleasure to work with them. And it is also a pleasure to be able to go to different parts of India and be able to shoot the film. And it’s not just like visiting the place but actually trying to capture the place and it is a wonderful time.
Q: And what advice would you give aspiring filmmakers and directors?
A: I will not give them any advice. Why would I give them any advice? I think they will figure it out by themselves. I think they just have to jump in and make it and people have to do what they have to do. They have to know the way; there is no point in listening to older directors.
Q: And your famous trilogy of Roja, Bombay, and Dil Se are being honored by the museum so can you talk about those movies being honored and what those movies mean to you?
A: I think it was not planned as a trilogy; the three films that happened during a particular decade. And also the period of the ‘90s and the age at which it was that those things seemed to just find their way into my films.
Q: And any upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
A: There are upcoming projects hopefully, or else I would be jobless. I can only make a film and then share it, that is the best way that I know how to share.