I grew up in Madras, and went to school and college here. I did my post graduation in management from a college in Mumbai. It had nothing to do with film making.
Any education helps as it gives you a rational approach. It gives you a foundation from which you can build, plan and execute. I had more interest than the average kid in films. My family was into film distribution and my uncle was a producer.
Films were talked about every day. But like every other middle-class family, films were never encouraged. We were not even allowed to go to the theatre.
I never thought of it as a career option.
I was working as a management consultant when a friend, who was directing his first film asked me to work with him. It was the first time that I had worked on something creative. That I could actually sit, conceive, think and execute it gave me such a high. I came to this field with a purpose. I thought I could make sensible cinema within the mainstream. I wanted to tell the story in an entertaining fashion to a large audience and still have the sensibility right.
In the beginning
My first film was in Kannada,
Pallavi Anu Pallavi
. It had Anil Kapoor in it and it was his first film as well. My first Tamil film was
. The early days were tough, as no one would trust me with the kind of cinema that I wanted to make. I wrote the script of
, but it took me four years to convince someone to let me make it. The really tough years were between 1983 and 1986.
But I think it is good to have the tough years early in your career.
It helped me become more determined and focused.
It is a beast!
In film making, the challenge lies in bringing the abstract image into some kind of a focus. You are seeking something that is not tangible, you are trying to reach out and take one step more than what is within your grasp. You push beyond what is convenient while looking for that bit of magic that will make it special.
All my films are like my babies.
Unless you believe in it, you can’t make films. I work on instinct. I did make a film with Rajinikanth,
. There are no limitations with subjects, but there are some subjects that I can’t work with, like horror. Technologically, India is growing rapidly. However, cinema is not in technology but in the thought, where there are no restrictions. It’s to do with the story and how you tell it. Good or bad, my product is mine! I have to deliver and it has to work as an economic model.
Awards and accolades
I think they are good, but I would not get carried away by awards. I don’t make films for the accolades.
What people think of my cinema is more important.
The Next Challenge
Every film is like a first film. I learn the art all over again. I am working on the next project, on paper. At any point of time I may have two or three scripts that are in progress. I conceptualise the scripts by myself. I only get a writer to write the dialogues.
Mani and Sport
I used to play tennis with Ramesh Krishnan, but my current sport is golf. It has been so for the past five years. Golf is like film making, it is elusively out of reach!
Indian film making
Just like the Indian English writing scene, film making too will open up. If you can make a film in one corner of the world and then reach across to the rest of the world, and communicate a thought that is totally Indian, that is the true magic of cinema.