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Mani Ratnam ponders over 'Yuva' failure

Thursday, June 17, 2004 • Hindi Comments
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While Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" has done well in many centers, including Bihar where he and music composer A.R. Rahman are considered anathema by distributors, it has been ripped apart here -- and he is wondering why.

"Why do you think this is so?" the maverick filmmaker asks pensively.

He then chuckles: "I've learnt not to get shaken by initial reactions and wait for the film to grow. Of course, I'm not jumping with joy at the criticism. It makes me wonder if I've slipped up. No point in getting worried about it.

"Interestingly, now they say my first Hindi film 'Dil Se' was good. Maybe 'Yuva', too, will be praised when I make my next film."

Responding to the need to make a separate Tamil version, Mani says: "Shooting two separate versions wasn't tough since we finished the Hindi and then got into Tamil. At least that's how we planned to go about it. But then after 75 percent of 'Yuva', Vivek Oberoi had that accident in Kolkata. I suddenly had free time until he recovered. That's when I started the Tamil version 'Ayudha Ezhuthu'."

He said he enjoyed making two versions of the same story.

"Getting both the films ready together was a tough task. But I must say shooting the two versions wasn't monotonous. The actors were different and there were variations throughout. The songs were shot identically in both."

Mani ponders about moviegoers' tastes. "Audiences everywhere are similar in their tastes. I still chose to make separate versions of 'Yuva'... now I wonder why!

"The Tamil version is more raw and violent. That's because of the Tamil actors. Their body language and their screen projection affords more intensity. Also, since I went into the Tamil version after shooting a lot of the Hindi version I wanted to go further the second time. I shot the Tamil version with more edge to it. No point in doing the same thing twice."

Dismissing media reports that claimed he had suffered a health setback during "Yuva" when Vivek Oberoi was injured in Kolkata, Mani clarifies: "It was wrongly reported that I suffered a heart attack. I just had a viral infection for which I was hospitalized. The very next day I was shooting on the very same bridge in Kolkata. My blood pressure had shot up because I ran up that bridge when Vivek had the accident."

Mani hasn't decided what he wants to make next. "I need to take a break. 'Yuva' and 'Ayudha Ezhuthu' have really exerted me. I haven't thought of anything about the next. I don't even know whether it'll be in Tamil or Hindi. It all depends on the subject. Maybe I should make another Hindi film so Bollywood will get used to me."

But versatility will remain his hallmark, no matter in which language he makes his film.

"Each film that I make has to be different from the previous one. That's what keeps me going. 'Yuva' is totally different from my previous film 'Kannattil Muttamittal'. That difference is what keeps me creatively alive. It's like doing a first film each time. Instinctively, I choose a different theme every time."

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