“Raavan is a contemporary story and totally set in today’s time” – Mani Ratnam

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From Dil Se to Bombay, Roja to Guru, Mani Ratnam has acquired the reputation of being India’s foremost talent when it comes to making quality cinema. With an internationally recognized body of work, Ratnam is about to be honored with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award 2010 at the 67th Venice International Film Festival. Bollyspice met with the illustrious director in his London hotel on the day of the international premiere of Raavan.

How was the experience of shooting Raavan?

It’s always very exciting at the start of the film. But I think none of us really anticipated it would be such a tough journey. But we are glad to be here on this side of it. I think though if we had to do it all again we would.

You are working with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan again. What made you decide that these actors were right for your project?

What makes a director think that at any time someone is right for a character? You know that they would be good for you, and if it works for them also, then it’s very good.

A lot of people are saying that the film is based on the Ramayana. What would you say to that?

It is a contemporary story and totally set in today’s time. The main character is called Raavan, so we used that element to explore how we look at things, how we draw lines between good and bad and whether something that was written two thousand years back could remain amongst us even today.

It seems that at the moment, many films such as My Name Is Khan and Kites are aiming for cross over success. Is that something you are attempting with Raavan?

That is not the intent here. We just try to make a film first and if it is good enough it will cross over. I don’t think you really have to design a film for that, you just try to do as well as you can, and if it works it will work across.

All of your shooting is done within India. Do you ever feel that you would come outside India and shoot overseas?

I shoot all my films in India because my scripts are based in India. If the story is based outside India, then I will shoot outside.

You are releasing two versions of the film in Hindi and Tamil. Do you have to change the aesthetics of the film for the two different language versions?

The background is slightly different in that the setting has to look real and rooted to the respective location. That is the change. It is really like twins – they are not identical but they are very similar.

It was reported that Raavan was originally going to release at the IIFAS, but now it is debuting in London.

IIFA was not on the cards for us. We were scheduled for release on the 18th June and this was the premiere that was planned.

Bollyspice was in attendance at the world premiere of Raavan at the BFI Southbank, introduced by Mani Ratnam and the cast of the film. Read our review of the film here.

Red Carpet photo credit: Allie Macdonald

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