Mission Kashmir: Mani Ratnam to return to the Valley for his next starring Karthi
With 2015's O Kadhal Kanmani going on to be a runaway hit in both Tamil and Telugu, Mani Ratnam has further cemented his brand as a filmmaker with pan-India appeal.OK Kanmani worked even with Hindi-speaking audiences (it was screened with English subtitles) and became the highest grosser among regional films in north Indian multiplexes.
Now, we hear that Mani is all set to make another film — partly set in Kashmir. The new untitled film, to be produced by Mani’s Madras Talkies, will have Tamil hero Karthi (the younger brother of actor Suriya) and Aditi Rao Hydari in the lead, with music by AR Rahman and camera by Ravi Varman (Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela, Barfi, Tamasha etc). The film is rumoured to be a romantic entertainer mixed with terrorism, one of Mani’s favourite themes (remember Roja, Dil Se, Kannathil Muthamittal).
The grapevine has it that Karthi is playing a pilot who falls in love with a doctor (Aditi's character). Karthi is currently undergoing a crash course in flying, to make it more authentic, as flying an aircraft is a pivotal part of the story. The story of the film of course has been kept under wraps but Mani Ratnam had made a few recce trips to Kashmir, to get permission to shoot in the valley. If permission to shoot in certain sensitive areas is denied, then sources close to the director say he will then zoom in on Himachal Pradesh, an alternative location.
Incidentally, a large part of Roja was shot in and around Shimla, and passed off as Kashmir. Ratnam has revisited the valley 24 years after this path-breaking Tamil film, which featured Arvind Swamy and Madhoo, and marked the launch of AR Rahman's film music career (some portions of the Shah Rukh Khan-Manisha Koirala starrer Dil Se also depicted Kashmir).
Roja was dubbed in Hindi and became a blockbuster, opening the doors for Mani in Bollywood. After the cold reception to Raavan (2010), the Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai-Vikram starrer, Mani has stayed away from making Bollywood films.
Meanwhile there has been no official announcement from Mani Ratnam or Madras Talkies regarding his new film. The shoot of the film is likely to commence by July end (depending on the permissions being granted by the J&K government).
However, even before the shoot of the film started, most of its rights have been sold. The biggest Tamil distribution concern Sri Thenandal Films has taken over the Tamil theatrical rights of the film, while the Telugu theatricals have also been sold. The overseas right has also been grabbed for an astronomical rate. The buzz is that there will be also a Hindi dubbing of the film, as North Indian television channels are trying their best to procure the satellite rights.
At 60, Mani Ratnam clearly continues to be the biggest brand in south Indian cinema.