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When I heard that Mani Ratnam decided to sign on Priyanka Chopra for Ponniyin Selvan, it was like eating Idli’s with tomato ketchup. Dreadful combination; distasteful to the palette.

Believe me, am not a Tamil Zealot. I don't take language to the bloodlines or speak ardently about Nama Tamizh Mannu. Tamil is a romantic, poetic and patriotic language. So is Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, Arabic, and Hebrew. Every region and every language has a unique beauty that is best portrayed in its true form without polluting it.

India is a country with million languages and the myriad differences don't just stop there. If you intend to make a movie that would appeal to the entire Indian audience, then pick a story that is universal, not a cast that is universal. Audiences have the intelligence to understand the subject no matter how regional and applaud performances even if they can never associate with it.

Titanic did not have Jothika romancing De Caprio, yet it captured the hearts and minds of people worldwide. We loved Erin Brokovich, every woman is fighting and is always challenged - that is a universal story. Sholay and Aradhana are movies which Tamil audiences thronged the theaters for. Nayagan and Bombay were lauded by Indians worldwide. Kannathil Muthamittal was part of Mothers’ Day International Film Week in North America. Roja was simply dubbed in Hindi and it ran to packed houses. The plot has to be universal; not the star cast.

Remember how misplaced Esha Deol was in Ayutha Ezhuthu. That being said Madhu Bala lived the role of Roja. I’m not sending mixed signals. Bring on Bollywood stars to star in Tamil movies, if the character demands it or if they can transform into the role. Tapasee in Aadukalam was the ideal choice; Simran & Khushboo ruled the roost in Kollywood. Sridevi blended with Tamil, Telugu and Hindi audiences, Endhiran with Aishwarya Rai was a blockbuster. We welcome talent from everywhere with open hearts, open arms and open doors.

My sincere claim is, in trying to make multilingual movies never lose the essence. Guru could only pull out the magic in Hindi and Raavanan did not perform well, because it was trying to appeal to an entire Indian audience, it did not connect well with any of them.

Raavanan was based on Ramayana, an epic which every India is most familiar with. Vikram, Prithviraj and Aishwarya performed iconically and the visuals were breathtaking. While people connected with a simple Tamil girl running pillar to post to find her husband in Roja, we did not sympathize with Ragini held captive by Raavanan. We fantasized the romance between Divya and CK in Mouna Ragam but did not feel the butterflies for Michael Vasanth and Geetha in Ayutha Ezhuthu.

A movie transcends languages and all other barriers when its emotions and characters connect to the audiences. The more regional a movie gets, the more international its appeal is. Sometimes remakes are worth the time and effort since every tweak ensures the movie sits well with the target audience. Sometimes, subtitling would do the trick.

Mani Sir, am I glad that Ponniyin Selvan was dropped. In case you try to reboot, please look at Ambasamudram before reaching for Andheri. Stop making movies for an entire Indian audience, instead make movies that romance our eyes, kindle our emotions, blend into our minds and stays forever in our hearts. We will take it worldwide...In other words; don’t put the cart before the horse.

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