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The countdown has begun for Mani Ratnam’s new film Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, releasing on September 27 in the UAE.

For fans of the maverick Tamil director, it’s like waiting for a festival.

Celebrated for his engaging stories that are diverse in content and narration, the auteur of 35 years pushes the envelope every time with something new. Here are all the things you need to know about the film, which translates to Crimson Red Sky.

MAGNITUDE OF STARS

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is as star-studded as they come: From veterans of his earlier films — Prakash Raj, Arvind Swami, Jayasudha — to repeat actors such as Aditi Rao Hydari, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam promises power-packed performances. Other cast members include established actors Jyotika, Vijay Sethupathy, Arun Vijay, Aishwarya Rajesh, Thiagarajan, as well as Malayalam actor Sarath Appani of Angamaly Diaries and newcomer Dayana Erappa.

GANGSTER DRAMA

The film is a family drama with gangster elements: The ever-versatile actor Prakash Raj plays Senapathi, the patriarch and a business magnate. The trailers suggest a murky side to the enterprise. Veteran Telugu actress Jayasudha is Senapathi’s wife, who is doing her second film with Ratnam after Alaipayuthe.

“It’s always great to be on the sets of Mani Ratnam,” said the actress with more than 300 films to her credit and winner of several awards.

“Mani Ratnam chooses his actors only when he is convinced of them in a role. Working with him is like being on your first film. There is something to learn. We don’t see actors but only the characters,” she said. “Every character is distinguished by its own separate voice. Mani Ratnam does not believe in dramatic dialogues but in a natural flow. He does not okay a shot unless he is fully satisfied. CCV is a family drama — a story of relationships and I play the matriarch of this family. It’s my eighth film with Prakash Raj. After a Mani Ratnam film, I inevitably fall in love with acting again.”

Going against the grain, Ratnam, who introduced Arvind Swami as the soft hero now dispels his earlier images from Thalapathi, Roja, Bombay and even Kadal, with a look that is a complete antithesis to his earlier characters. Swami here plays Varadan, the eldest son of Senapathi. The trailers reveal a tough personality who will go to any length to secure his place as the rightful heir of Senapathi, even if it means a war with his siblings.

Jyotika plays his onscreen wife. However, Varadan seems to be in an extra-marital affair with a television channel reporter played by Aditi Rao Hydari.

Aishwarya Rajesh is paired opposite Arun Vijay. Simbu and Dayanna Erappa make the last pair.

STRONG TECHNICAL TEAM

Cinematographer Santosh Sivan, who has several international and national awards to his credit, works with Ratnam for the sixth time. Sivan won the Indian National Award for Ratnam’s films Iruvar and Dil Se, and described Ratnam as a filmmaker who always wants to innovate.

“He tries hard to steer away from the conventional and treats all his films like it’s his first one. CCV is a thriller and opens up doors to emotions. Brothers’ rivalry is very common, especially in powerful families. CCV has been shot in Dubai, Serbia, Chennai and Andhra Pradesh,” said Sivan

Seven time Indian National Award winning lyricist Vairamuthu, two of which he won for Ratnam films Roja and Kannathil Muthamittal, has written the lyrics set to music by AR Rahman.

The film has also been made in Tamil and Telugu. The Telugu version is titled Nawab.

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Don’t miss it!

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam releases in the UAE on September 27.