Happy Birthday Mani Ratnam: 11 Landmark Tamil Films by the maverick filmmaker

By: FPJ Web Desk | June 01, 2023

Having worked with every top actor from South for over four decades, filmmaker Mani Ratnam has left an indelible impression upon the minds of avid movie lovers across the world. As the revered 'Ponniyin Selvan' filmmaker turns a year older, here's looking at his best films in Tamil cinema that serve as huge inspirations for aspiring filmmakers

Mouna Ragam - 1986 - Fetching Ratnam his first Filmfare Award and National Award as Best Director, 'Mouna Ragam' was a poignant tale of a woman torn between her former lover and her husband. Starring Revathy and Mohan in the leads, the film established Ratnam as a force to reckon with

Nayagan - 1987 - The movie that established the winning duo of Ratnam and Kamal Haasan, 'Nayagan' was listed in the Best 100 Movies of all-time list by TIME Magazine. Blending fact and fiction with inspiration taken from 'The Godfather' and the life of Varadarajan Mudaliar, the film, during its time, ran for more than a 150 days at the box-office and emerged as the biggest blockbuster of the year

Anjali - 1990 - A heartbreaking portrayal of an autistic child, the film won three National Awards, including Best Child Artist for Shamili who played the titular part. The film also starred Revathy and Raghuvaran as Shamili's parents

Thalapathi - 1991 - In a rare feat pulled off by Ratnam, 'Thalapathi' brought together the reigning superstars of their time Rajinikanth and Mammootty together, on-screen. A crime drama that views the relationship between a mentor and a protegee, 'Thalapathi' further cemented the stardom of the lead actors

Roja - 1992 - Winner of the National Award for Best Film on National Integration, 'Roja' is the tale of a young woman's search for her missing husband, amid the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. Starring Madhoo and Arvind Swami in the lead, the film gained nationwide popularity for its soundtrack that marked the debut of music maestro A.R. Rahman

Bombay - 1995 - Starring Arvind Swami and Manisha Koirala, the film also won the National Award for Best Film on National Integration. However, the release of this film was not easy with Ratnam inviting the wrath of socio-political outfits for depicting inter-faith love and marriage

Iruvar - 1997 - Based on the friendship shared between M.G. Ramachandran and M. Karunanidhi, both prominent political figures of Tamil Nadu, 'Iruvar' starred Mohanlal, Prakash Raj, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Revathy in key roles. The film fetched two National Awards, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Raj

Alaipayuthey - 2000 - Ratnam's first attempt at a modern love story starring R.Madhavan and Shalini, went on to acquire blockbuster status with its hummable soundtrack by A.R Rahman and the infectious chemistry between the leads. It was remade as 'Saathiya' in Hindi starring Rani Mukerji and Vivek Oberoi

Kannathil Muthamittal - 2002 - With six National Awards to its credit, the movie stars R Madhavan, Simran and Nandita Das. Based on a heartaching story about a Sri Lankan child who wants to meet her biological parents, having been adopted by an Indian couple, this film will surely leave you moist-eyed

Aayutha Ezhuthu - 2004 - Three men belonging to different socio-political strata find their lives intertwined, when they accidentally meet at a bridge at the heart of Chennai city. Starring Suriya, R.Madhavan and Siddharth in lead roles, the film was remade as 'Yuva' in Hindi starring Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan and Vivek Oberoi

O Kadhal Kanmani - 2015 - Ratnam's most layered and complex take on the idea of live-in relationships, 'O Kadhal Kanmani' has the biggest cult following amongst the Indian youth today for its soundtrack and the infectious chemistry between the leads Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen

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