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Decoding Brand Mani Ratnam

He has done 25 films in 35 years, but is still relevant in commercial Tamil cinema. Can the filmmaker pull it off with his latest release, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam?

Director and producer Mani Ratnam is one of the biggest brands in Tamil cinema. He has been shining bright for the last 35 years and is still relevant in commercial cinema. Unlike superstars, only a handful of directors have survived at the box-office for more than a decade.

Mani Ratnam falls among that rare breed of film directors in Indian cinema and has done 25 films in 35 years, with many of them being trend-setters. He still appeals to the youth audiences (who were not even born when he started out in 1983), who are going ga-ga over his 26th film Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (CCV), a multi-starrer hitting the screens on September 27, 2018. The advance booking for the film has been phenomenal across the world, especially in urban areas of Tamil Nadu, like the three Cs (Chennai city, Chengalpet and Coimbatore).

 

A spokesperson of the All India Multiplex operators says, “We have registered impressive advance booking across India for the Tamil (CCV) and Telugu (Nawab) versions of the film. In Bengaluru, shows start as early as 6 am on the opening day. In a way, the opening looks bigger on the first day than Rajinikanth’s Kaala.” Closer home, Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatres in Chrompet says, “The demand for the opening day is unprecedented. All 11 shows on day one have been sold out in advance.”

CCV comes at a crucial time for Mani Ratnam, who has not had a genuine superhit in years. In the last five years, the director has made three films — Kadal (2013), O Kadhal Kanmani (2015) and Kaatru Veliyidai (2017). While Kadal and Kaatru Veliyidai didn’t do well at the box office, even O Kadhal Kanmani was just a break-even hit. This perhaps prompted him to do a “quickie”, something more commercial than any of his films so far.

 

Apart from being an accomplished filmmaker, Mani Ratnam also understands the importance of star-driven Tamil commercial mass films. For the first time, he has worked with a multi-starrer cast, comprising saleable actors whom he’s not worked with earlier (like Simbu, Vijay Sethupathi, Arun Vijay and Jyotika). Of course, he has his regular actors like Arvind Swami and Prakash Raj as part of the cast, and a strong core team of technicians (AR Rahman, Santosh Sivan and Sreekar Prasad). At a crisp running time of 142 minutes, he also seems to be making the film commercially attractive for multiplexes to fit in with their programming.

 

The first trailer clearly indicates that CCV is a Godfather-like gangster story, where Prakash Raj and Jayasudha head a family of three brothers played by Arvind Swami, Arun Vijay and Silambarasan. The online character introduction of Varadan, Thyagu and Ethi has also kicked up the curiosity factor. The second trailer has raised the doubt — which of the three power-hungry sons will take over from Prakash Raj? All this has led to mammoth expectations around CCV. The film has been sold at a reasonable price by its producers and all stake holders are expecting it to turn profitable by the end of the first week. If the content lives up to the hype, CCV has the potential to be among Mani Ratnam’s biggest hits.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 10:04:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/decoding-brand-mani-ratnam-how-the-filmmaker-is-relevant-even-today/article25047271.ece

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