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The Right-Wing Hindu, Hypernationalist Politics of Mani Ratnam’s Films

18 August 2020

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The Right-Wing Hindu, Hypernationalist Politics of Mani Ratnam’s Films

In July 2019, an open letter was written by 49 celebrities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that included eminent filmmakers and actors expressing concern over the growing incidents of mob violence. While it was reported that filmmaker Mani Ratnam too was one of the signatories of the letter, there were some conflicting reports about the authenticity of his signature. But after some initial confusion, it was established that Mani Ratnam did sign the letter. The open letter resulted in a sedition charge filed against all the 49 ‘pro left-liberals’ in October 2019 at Bihar’s Muzaffarpur for “tarnishing the image of the nation”.

Much earlier, in April 2017, during the release of his film Kaatru Veliyidai (2017), Mani Ratnam was interviewed by News 18 Tamil Nadu’s then Chief Editor M Gunesekaran. During the interview, Gunasekaran questioned the influence of the Dravidian movement on Mani Ratnam by quoting the filmmaker’s comment from Baradwaj Rangan’s book Conversations with Mani Ratnam.

The filmmaker had said, “To have something like the rationalist movement was fantastic – it really stood up for the backward. It opened your mind……Two things were very, very important in my formative years – the thinking of the Dravidian movement, which was such a strong movement, and the increased potency of the film medium.” Ratnam responded by reinforcing his comment in the book and agreed that the 50 years of governance by the Dravidian parties has put the state on a progressive path.

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