My Inner Voice with Mani Ratnam – 2. First Step is an Inspiration


2. First Step is an Inspiration

Life is something which we always dream of doing what we want. But only few could end up writing their own screenplay against the destiny. Though was an MBA graduate, he chose to become a film maker being influenced by Bala Chandar and several others. Mani Ratnam’s first film was “Pallavi AnuPallavi”, a Kannada film which was made in the year 1983 starring Anil Kapoor, Lakshmi and Kiran Vairale.


Before I gave it a read, I watched this film. I searched the entire internet for the Telugu version of the film but ended up watching the original Kannada version on YouTube. I followed the story and action but couldn’t understand the dialogues. One can read the plot and story of this film on Wikipedia but the main points to be noted here are: The struggle of a debut director who has never been to film school and has a very less knowledge on film making.  How he managed to work with already established crew like Cinematographer Balu Mahendran, Editor Lenin and Music Director Ilayaraja in his very first film. This is the best example for the young upcoming film makers.

While I was reading the very first chapter on his first film, I came to know about the several pressures that a debut director undergoes. The very surprising part was how he overcame and made his first film. It was always the budget issues that trouble the debut directors on a large scale. Today is very different, Internet is ruling everything and YouTube is the best platform to showcase the talent. Cameras have become so cheaper that even college students have started making short films. It is said that Ram Gopal Varma has started this new trend of making films in a very low budget and paved a way for the young film makers, but when I studied Mani Ratnam, he has already shown us how to make a film in a very low budget as unfortunately he couldn’t afford any professional equipment for his first film.

Balu Mahendra

For the Cinematography students, this film is one of the very good examples on shooting using natural available light and minimal house hold lights. Balu Mahendra is one of the great masters who have experimented a lot in cinematography. He always loved to shoot using natural available light. The way he shot “Pallavi Anupallavi” was worth a great lesson for the students.  The extensive use of back lighting has added a new dimension to the frames in every outdoor scenes of the film.

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Screenshot (131)

Screenshot (130)

Mani Ratnam, in first chapter, explains about the struggles that he has faced during the production of the film and how he has overcome all kind of fears that were haunting him. Being a Tamilian, he made his first film in Kannada which he doesn’t know at all. He is quick learner. He used to learn and apply things very fast. While direction is always a different ball game, he has explained how he managed to coordinate all the 24crafts in his first film.

Thotta Tharani’s production design which has added a artistic youthful beauty to this film is worth discussing too. His artistic works can be discussed more in Mani Ratnam’s fifth, “Mouna Ragam”, the film which made him famous. Some of the interesting frames that have attracted me in this film are shown below. I have connected to these frames very quickly while I was watching “Mouna Ragam”. 

Most interesting thing that surprised me was the present Idea cellular Network official theme music was nothing but the official background score of the “Naguva Nayana” song in this film. Here is the song:

Here is the Idea Cellular Network ad:

In my point of view he had left us some inspiration behind. Those can be noted as:

  • It’s easy to have a dream but one need some guts to step in and try a hand to fulfill that dream.
  • Inspire from great films but only do what great is possible at that moment and pressure you are in.
    Eg: Picturisation using natural light.
  • Be quick in learning things.
  • Grab the chances which come your way.
  • It depends on how strong you stand and how much you fight back to portray the film exactly which is in your mind on to the film.
  • Whatever you do – see that it is perfect.

 His first step is an experience to him and an inspiration to us.

“I wanted to be accepted or rejected for the content
and not for the spelling and grammatical errors”
– Mani Ratnam –

About the Author:


Dinesh Dinu,
Founder & Chief Editor @ Smile Art Beats.

An Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate from Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies,  Basar. With pure passion for cinema, he had a Masters Degree in Film Technology(M.F.Tech) specialized in Cinematography from Ramanaidu Film School (under Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad). He is the Founder & Chief Editor of an online Arts & Photography Magazine – Smile Art Beats. He has published about 100 artists in 20 successful issues all across India till date. He is associated with 100’s of photographers in India in coordinating the issues of this magazine. Besides he is an artist, photographer and a writer who loves to write about cinema and its technicalities. Presently he is into cinematography and have made few short films in coordination with WITALKS.

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