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Mani Ratnam's latest films to debut at Singapore's IIFA Awards

By Fakir Hassen, IANS

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The mainly Tamil-speaking Indian community of Singapore will get a special treat with the world premiere of filmmaker Mani Ratnam's latest film during an awards show in the city state next month.

Speaking to IANS on phone from Mumbai, Ratnam said he was excited about "Yuva" in Hindi and "Aayitha Ezhuthu" in Tamil being premiered as the choices for 2004 of the prestigious International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend.

Ratnam said he had been very busy making Tamil films since his last Hindi hit, "Dil Se", six years ago. "Yuva" is his first Hindi venture since then.

"The script is essentially the same, although I shot simultaneously in both languages with two different sets of artistes."

"Yuva" stars Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Kareena Kapoor and Esha Deol as youths with different approaches to life as they try to make some sense of it.

"Aayitha Ezhuthu" stars Madhavan, Surya, Siddarth, Esha Deol, Trisha and Meera Jasmine in the same roles.

Agreeing that the films are about changing value systems and attitude to life of the youth, Ratnam said: "It is about the options the youth have in front of them. But it is not a message that we are trying to send across to them.

"We are just talking to them about their options and how to deal with them. It's a story about three different people and three different views towards life."

The films will be screened at the Lido Cineplex at Shaw House in Singapore May 20 as part of a three-day event that will culminate in the annual IIFA Awards for the best in Indian cinema.

Prominent Indian cinema personalities and international guests are expected to attend the event being hosted in conjunction with the Singapore Tourism Authority.

Esha Deol, the only star common to both films, said: "My mother tongue is Tamil and I was first shooting for the Tamil version when Mani asked me to do the Hindi version as well.

"Even the most difficult thing seems easy when you work with Mani because he's such a fantastic director."

Deol, who has not had any hit so far, admitted she had some hopes of "Yuva" helping her career.

"I'm the kind of person who goes with the flow. I take in my stride whatever comes along my way and I give it my best. I never expected 'Yuva' to come my way.

"I've been a fan of Mani ever since I was a kid and when this movie came along I thought it was a blessing in disguise, so let's hope and see what happens."

Deol said she had learnt a lot from Ajay Devgan while shooting for "Yuva".

Siddarth, one of the male stars in "Aayitha Ezhuthu", said: "This is my second outing with Mani Ratnam. I've been assisting him earlier and it's been great working on both sides of the camera with him."

Abhishek Bachchan too said he could not pass up on the opportunity to work with Ratnam.

Bachchan, whose first film before "Yuva" will be "Run", agreed that his roles in the two films were totally different but declined to give details about "Run".

But he was more forthcoming on his role in "Yuva".

"A lot of people nowadays end up on the wrong side of the law. A lot of people have speculated about my role in 'Yuva' being a negative one. It's not a negative role, but one of a normal human being who has to live with the circumstances that he finds himself in.

"He's not a negative person at all - he's just a character in the film," said Bachchan.


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