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Mani Ratnam opens up on COVID-19 pandemic, Ponniyin Selvan and his next project on maiden Insta Live appearance

In what could be termed a one-of-its-kind interaction, the veteran filmmaker opened up on a lot of things via the live chat session which was hosted by his wife Suhasini.

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Filmmaker Mani Ratnam, who is known for his reserved demeanour, made an exception and went live with wife Suhasini on her Instagram page to chat with his fans and also answer questions from them and from celebrities.

In what could be termed a one-of-its-kind interaction, the veteran filmmaker opened up on a lot of things via the live chat session hosted by his wife.

Hundreds of fans sent videos of themselves asking questions and a select few were answered by the Roja (1992) filmmaker. Apart from fans, the live session was joined by artistes R Madhavan, Aditi Rao Hydari and Kushboo Sundar, among others.

One of the highlights of the session was the interaction with Madhavan. Suhasini pointed out that Madhavan had changed Mani Ratnam’s life by introducing him to golf. Madhavan joked about how he challenged the director to beat him at the game; the actor said he beat the crap out of him.

Madhavan also asked Mani Ratnam about a cheesy dialogue from their film Alaipayuthey (which celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday). The scene takes place in a train and Mani Ratnam said he was more worried about filming it because he had two trains only for a few hours.

Actress Anu Haasan joined the conversation and made Mani Ratnam participate in a rapid-fire round with questions ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to what makes the Haasan women unbearable.

On his biggest lesson learnt from the current countrywide lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic, Mani Ratnam said: “Being in Zen mode.”

Answering the question about the Haasan women, Mani Ratnam said, in a sarcastic tone, that "they are quiet".

Veteran actress Poonam Dhillon asked Mani Ratnam about his casting process. She wanted to know if he chooses extraordinary artistes for his characters or changes normal artistes into extraordinary ones.

Answering Dhillon’s question, Ratnam said he usually pleads with his artistes to "act well" and they do the exact opposite. He said extracting the best performance is not a technique but a search together (with his artistes).

Aditi Rao Hydari, who worked with the auteur in two films, asked him how he finds the right artiste for a role. Mani Ratnam said he always looks for somebody who would give him the least trouble.

"It should also feel right," he elaborated. "You don’t always end [up] with your first choice. Good casting is actually half the work done. I am not looking for someone who does exactly what I say. He/she has to put in something extra.”

Answering some questions from fans, the filmmaker explained why he is not interested in making a film or show for OTT platforms. “If I have been playing tennis for 20 years and you ask me to play football, it won’t work. One should do what they are good at,” he said.

Mani Ratnam also confirmed that he is making his upcoming magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan (2020), based on the popular Tamil epic novel, in two parts.

A fan asked the director if he ever wanted to act. Suhasini said Rajinikanth’s daughter asked him once. Mani Ratnam said he said no, only because it is better that way.

The filmmaker also confirmed that his next project, after Ponniyin Selvan, will be in Hindi. “I am currently trying to write a script. But it hasn’t moved an inch forward. That will be in Hindi,” he revealed.

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