Mani Ratnam was born on 2 June 1955, as the second child of a family that was closely associated with film production. His father S. Gopala Ratnam was a film distributor who worked for Venus Pictures, and his uncle "Venus" Krishnamurthy was a film producer. His elder brother G. Venkateswaran would go on to produce some of his films. His younger brother, G. Srinivasan, who like Venkateswaran would co-produce some of his films. Mani Ratnam grew up in Madras (now Chennai), along with his siblings and cousins in a joint-family. Upon completing his schooling, he graduated with a degree in commerce from the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, affiliated to the Madras University. Later, he did his Master of Business Administration in finance from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai. After finishing his post-graduation in 1977, he was employed in a firm in Madras as a management consultant, and continued to work there for some time. He is married to Suhasini, an established actress in South Indian cinema then. The two first met in 1988 and got married the same year. The couple have a son Nandhan (born 1992). The family resides in Alwarpet, Chennai, where he runs his production company, Madras Talkies.
Ratnam is particularly known for his eye for technical detail in the art of film making, having worked with and also introduced some of the best music directors, cinematographers, art directors, dialogue writers and editors in India. Several international papers and books have been published on his critically acclaimed movies. Mani Ratnam's directorial debut was in 1983, through the Anil Kapoor starring Kannada film Pallavi Anu Pallavi. Mani Ratnam made significant headways in his first film, and also managing to persuade acclaimed director and cinematographer Balu Mahendra to serve as his cinematographer. Finally in 1986, Mani attained commercial success in Tamil Nadu through the Tamil language romantic drama Mouna Ragam with Revathi and Mohan. With commercial success coming back to back, Ratnam wrote and directed Agni Natchathiram.
Mani later made another underworld-themed Tamil film with Thalapathi in 1991 starring Rajnikanth and Mammooty. With a theme of friendship between a local don and a slum king, Thalapathi earned both critical acclaim and commercial success upon release. However Bombay was financially very successful and well appreciated by the critics. It won the Special Award from the Political Film Society, the Wim Van Leer In Spirit of Freedom Award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Gala Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Inspired by the real life story of iconic Tamil film star and politician MG Ramachandran and also current Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, it was hailed critically as a fine effort in film-making, winning Best Film at the Festival of the Auteur Films in Belgrade.
Ratnam returned to Tamil films after that and directed the romance drama Alaipayuthey (which has been remade in Hindi as "Saathiya") in 2000, starring R. Madhavan and Shalini. Alaipayuthey was a huge success both commercially and critically, as it explored post-marital problems between a young Chennai couple who married beyond their parents' consent, and also returned Ratnam's position as a box office factor. In 2004, Mani made his second Hindi language effort with Yuva. The film, which tells the story of three different youths and how one incident sends their three lives on a collision course, received positive reviews and was a hit in the box office.
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