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We like each other’s company: Shaad Ali on continuing to assist Mani Ratnam


Taking time off from his busy schedule promoting the upcoming Soorma, Shaad Ali travelled to Serbia to assist his mentor on the Tamil film Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.

Shaad Ali (Shutterbugs Images) and Mani Ratnam

Keyur Seta

Actor-director Shaad Ali shares a special bond with celebrated filmmaker Mani Ratnam.

He started off as an assistant director on Mani Ratnam's 1998 movie Dil Se... starring Shah Rukh Khan, Manisha Koirala and Preity Zinta.

Generally, when assistant directors rise to become directors, they do not go back to working as assistants. However, Shaad Ali has no qualms doing so. He made his directorial debut with Saathiya in 2002 but has continued to assist Mani Ratnam even thereafter.

Shaad Ali's respect for his mentor made him work with Mani Ratnam on films like Guru (2007), Raavan (2010) and Raavanan (2010). He again took the director's chair for Kill Dil (2014) and OK Jaanu (2017). 

He is now gearing up for the release of his next directorial, Soorma, a biopic on India hockey star Sandeep Singh. However, Shaad Ali took time out from his busy schedule and travelled all the way to Serbia in the erstwhile Yugoslavia to assist his mentor on the upcoming Tamil film Chekka Chivantha Vaanam.

During an interview with Cinestaan.com, Shaad Ali spoke of his new project with Mani Ratnam. “I assisted him last month. I went to Serbia and again shot a film with him,” he said.

Elaborating on their bond, he said, “I have worked with him for 21 years now. Almost half my life I have known him. It is different [with him]. It’s like knowing your parents or a family member. You know what the relationship is going to be like if you know someone for half your life. It’s just that we like to be in each other’s company.”

On whether he considers the celebrated director his mentor, Shaad Ali said, “I can’t categorize it. The lines have become blurred over the past few years.”

Shaad Ali's Saathiya and OK Jaanu were official remakes of Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey (2000) and O Kadhal Kanmani (2015), respectively.