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    I am in a mood to make song-less movie: Mani

    Monday, February 28, 2005
    He is as taciturn as the characters he chisels on screen.

    But when Manirathnam speaks, you had better listen. For, he not only speaks his mind but also his brain. If you are a cineaste, listening to Mani speak will be a rewarding experience.

    Excerpts from a chat with the man when he released ''Manirathnam Retrospective'' in the form of DVD brought out by AP International.

    You have worked with music legends like Ilayaraja and A R Rehman. How do you compare them?

    I am lucky to have worked with the two legends. Both are different in their style and approach. Ilayaraja is a prolific music-composer, who comes up with amazing tunes instantly and does his re-recording in just half-a-day. His grasp of music has astounded me always. Rehman is a music wizard in his own way. He revolutionized Tamil film music and brought a new quality to it.

    It is reported that you wanted no songs in Ayutha Ezhuthu?

    I am in a mood to drop songs from my movies. As far as Indian cinema is concerned, when a script and screenplay is over, the immediate thing in the creator's mind is where to place the songs. The songs should be enjoyable. It is a challenge to any director.

    How do you work with your cinematographers? Your films have frames that are extraordinary

    My relationship with cinematographers is like the one between a husband and wife. There will be love interspersed with the few arguments. It's the end product which matters. Quality is what we strive for. I am indeed fortunate to have worked with the likes of Santhosh Sivan, Rajeev Menon, P C Sreeram and Ravi K Chandran.

    You have always given you characters an extra depth and dimension. How do you do it?

    I don't start with set notions in my mind. I start with a clean slate while writing the script. As the story develops, the characters are slowly built around. There is no conscious effort to make them look different. These things just happen.

    Does it mean you improvise on the characters?

    No, they do. In the sense, the improvisation happens in an automatic sort of way. To convert the character on paper onto the screen needs extra effort from the director. And it also hinges on the performer, who brings emotions to the script on the screen.

    You seem to have a fascination for real life incidents…

    There should be some real life incidents that need to be converted in cinema. And then the dramatizing part comes in. If you combine realism good cinema happens.

    You are also influenced by mythological characters

    People say Roja was an inspiration from Sathyavan-Savithri and Dalapathy from the relationship with Karnan and Duryodhana. I do not deny that. We have grown up reading mythology and folk tales. It is sure to have an influence on you. However, as far as my movies are concerned, nothing is a conscious attempt

    Why are not many Tamil movies made out of novels?

    Picking a novel and converting it to screenplay is a challenge

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