The first thing one will notice in Mani’s directorial style is his complete disregard to spatial orientation. Every frame is an independent space and the viewer has no clue to entrance, exits, and the ‘real’ address of the location in the narration that unfolds.
In this context, Mani’s artistic interpretation of liberalisation and subsequent consumerism were going to be deeply persuasive across India’s urban film centres for all kinds of filmmakers and technicians who were entering into this arena.
In a very unprofessional system of film financing and distribution, Mani Ratnam’s productions have had to go through constant uncertainties And yet, Mani does his best to satisfy the financiers by casting well-known actors, giving his cinematographer the best of equipment and his music director with a lot of ideas and time too.
Mani often refers to K. Balachander, Guru Dutt and American cinema overall as his influencers. But watching Mani’s films one will realise what he took away from them was only their radical spirit to break away from convention to define what should be seen as ‘modernity’.
Mani gives his female protagonists a significant amount of agency. Therefore, barring Nayakan and Thalapathi, the occasions that he worked with superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, in all his other works he balances this equation out, in his own creative ways.