A thespian story teller who is known to weave a good narrative along with the audiences interest. One of the gems from Indian cinema, Mani Ratnam celebrates his birthday today and we can’t help but take a look at all the masterpieces churned out from his stable. 

An impressive list of films that talk about his passion for story telling intertwined with some stellar music. The man has an eye for all things spectacular. Be it stories, actors, music or even the background score that adds magic to the simplest of scenes. We came up with a list of must watch Mani Ratnam films that movie buff’s in the country must watch only for its brilliant story telling:

1. Mouna Ragam (1986)

Mouna Ragam earned Mani Ratnam a National Award for Best Film and Best Director. Starring Revathi and Mohan in pivotal roles. The film spoke about a woman’s displeasure in the marriage and the husband’s calm demeanor in dealing with the rejection. The treatment in which the two lead characters dealt with the story is commendable. 

2. Nayagan (1987)

The film was inspired by Mario Puzo’s cult book, The Godfather. A film known to have made some stupendous business at the box office coupled with critical acclaim. Nayagan has Kamal Hassan and Karthika in the lead. The film’s popularity prompted Bollywood to attempt a remake with Vinod Khanna in Dayavaan. Unfortunately the film failed to garner the same acclaim as the original did. Way back in 2005, The revered TIME magazine listed Nayagan as one of the 100 best films of all times. That speaks volumes of this Mani Ratnam masterpiece. While Nayagan fetched Kamal Hassan a National Award for Best Actor Dayavaan was soon forgotten by the audience. 

3. Thalapathi (1991)


Mani Ratnam is a man with vision. In Thalapathi he had two superstars, Rajnikanth and Mammootty so aptly cast where neither ate up into the other’s scene with their stardom. The essence of the story was so strong that the film till date remains a classic to watch out for. A story that drew inspiration from the Mahabharat and the characters written on the lines of the relationship between Duryodhan and Karna. This film wouldn’t have been possible without Ratnam’s understanding of cinema. 

4. Anjali (1990)

One of the best Children film being made in the 90’s. Anjali was full of heart. The directors handling of a sensitive subject with finesse was the key to the films critical acclaim. Starring Revathi and Raghuvaran in the lead. Anjali bagged 3 National Awards and went on to be dubbed in Hindi and Telugu as well. The style in which Ratnam showcased the apathy of a family with a special child was commendable. 

5. Roja (1992)


Roja was about love being torn between politics and terrorism. A beautifully crafted piece of cinema that showcased some crackling chemistry between the lead actors, Arvind Swamy and Madhoo. The chemistry was so strong that even the audience got involved in their story and felt their trauma. The film had a great soundtrack by AR Rahman that added more value. Roja went on to win 3 National Awards for Music direction, Best Lyrics and Best Film on National integration. 

6. Bombay (1995)

Not the first time that Mani Ratnam dealt with the subject of terrorism. But this time he had pushed the bar even further inviting the wrath of many political wings around that time. The film dealt with a love story between a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl around the time of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the aftermath leading to the horror of Hindu-Muslim riots in the country. Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala brought out the tragedy of the circumstances very well on screen. The songs from the film are some evergreen classics composed by the Mozart of Madras, A R Rahman. Just like Roja, Bombay too won the National Award for Best Film on national integration along with Best Film editing.

7. Iruvar (1997)

A film set to have been inspired by the rivalry between Politicians, Karunanidhi and M.G Ramachandran. The film is said to be a cult classic that gained a lot of critical acclaim for it’s narrative. Iruvar also went on to win 2 National Awards for Best cinematography and Best supporting actor. The film had Mohanlal and Prakash Raj in pivotal roles. Iruvar marked the debut of Aishwarya Rai as an actress. The film was considered as a brave attempt by the filmmaker.

Just the name of the film will leave you with a sense of nostalgia as the film boasted of an incredible soundtrack by the maestro, AR Rahman. With Shah Rukh Khan, Manisha Koirala in pivotal roles the films narrative dealt with a love story between a civilian and a terrorist. But here the story was not about the typical communal riots that Ratnam had showcased in his earlier films but more on the lines of human rights violation. Dil Se was the film in which Preity Zinta made her Bollywood debut. 

9. Alaipayuthey (2000)

An urban love story between two immature adults is how Alaipayuthey can be summed up. Starring the effervescent R Madhavan and Shalini. The film had a melodious soundtrack by Rahman and went to be remade in Hindi by Ratnam’s then assistant director, Shaad Ali starring Rani Mukherjee and Vivek Oberoi.

10. Yuva (2004)