Time for rebranding  Mr Ratnam! 

The problem with brand positioning is that it sticks!

Yes! the problem with any positioning of any brand is that it creates a lasting impression on your consumer and that is what they perceive you to be. Brand’s need to be careful to keep enough elbow room to be able to diversify or have space to explore other ideas as well. Or simply keep a broader vision.

And my personal feeling is that this  could be the very reason for an expectation and reality GAP with many Brand’s. For example you don’t expect an Apple product to have a sync issue. Or you don’t expect a Volvo car to be not safe or you don’t expect fake goods in Macy’s or you don’t expect a bad filter coffee at Saravana Bhavan.

Take for example the latest Mani Ratnam film, while the ardent fan still loves it because as I just mentioned he/ she is the fan, The rest of the crowd are mere cynics, technical critiques and obviously still wondering what’s all the hype about Mr Mani!

Well, if you ask me it’s a positioning problem. Mani as a brand,  positioned himself as the out- of-the-box director, delivering scripts with twists, turns, a reflection of life with a contemporary edge and thinking  and now at every level and era people want him to jump out of the box.. literally. Giving the man no scope for any change. A film maker’s journey itself is a journey of discovery and yet we want Mani the man to always discover new planets he cannot possibly keep the story on earth. So the first problem is positioning himself so niche and so fragile that it sometimes does not allow the consumer to accept the craft he is creating or presenting as is. They have to compare and they have to pinpoint the problem or the difference. People stop looking at it as an art form or a point of view, they start comparing it with the positioning and see if it lives up to it. And this happens to brands who have only actually applied thought and positioned themselves. Those who have not positioned themselves, actually do not get questioned.

The second, is also a branding issue, the name of the product needs to connote something integral to the picture or the feeling.  What the hell was going on in anyone’s mind when they named this, it is not a literary work, it’s for the masses, and Katru  Veliyidai ( apart from some interestingly sad connotations)  is definitely a tongue twister. And the name reveal in the movie, does not have this great significant aha! moment under the snow for you to feel the justification.

Coupled with of course, the sequence as you see in most of his films is a little disjointed and of course cerebral and mono syllabic dialogues which again is a  trademark he has stuck to (again a positioning sticky) and so you kind of expect and accept those ideas.

The disconnect with many of his audience is the fact that each of his fans go out there and expect a really intelligent film. The problem simply is in the days of Nayagan or Roja or even MounaRagam there was a certain dearth in the dissemination of creativity in the world.  You did not have the internet bursting with ideas, short videos, interesting memes or even awesome photography of Uttaranchal.

But today, there is tons of interesting ideas, awe inspiring real life stories, quirky thinking and beautiful and awesome real life videos and pictures that when a movie is all about great looking locales and a barge of interesting shots it just falls flat. No matter how great the cinematography or the photography or the music is.

So, the script and the delivery of the story is the hero of the entire thing. And the simplicity of saying things like the typical Mani film sometimes gets into a glitch.

But nevertheless, it’s a typical Mani Rathnam film… and as always interesting to note the, logical casting Rukmani in the cast because of the Tango or  Anokhi rustic clothes in full display. But what or why was RJ Balaji kept lurking as though he was the villain, the expressionless curiosity was mutual.   And the typical wedding scene song, why!? Clearly you can see it’s a filler of sorts. We have this typical set-up in Roja, in Bombay,  and in Alaipayuthey. Except this one was a  reddish garrish version of the much aesthetically done Bhansali’s Lahu Munh Lag Gaya.

Btw, the internet and almost all of the reviews floating around are glorifying the performance of Aditi Rao and actually do not say much about Karthi. To dwell on that a bit.

What is the expectation of a male actor these days … is it to play the role or to create incredible drama or a little bit of both.

It’s not new news that Mani Ratnam definitely gives more prominence for the women in his films, so it actually looks like there is more performance for Aditi’s role, while Karthi has been overshadowed for playing the quintessential male .

Look at it this way, there is no elbow room beyond what Karthi did for him in that film, and you started judging him the moment he appeared. Not fair. Not the least. A character with genuine issues of bonding which is demonstrated in the arrogance yet smart, intelligent, fun loving yet awesome guy can only do so much. Even if he had  done anything more than what he did it would have been perceived as over acting or he could look like a schizophrenic.

So in the defence of Karthi, I think he did his job! Hands down!

It is the story teller who kind of left us bewildered because even after the movie ended we kind of did not understand why Leela was so much in love with VC! Reason being simple – it was a Point of view!

Imagine the entire story told from Leela’s perspective….

Imagine Leela as the narrator, explaining her bit on his past and what he went through .. does it click for you! Yes! It would have made us love VC and it would not have diluted Leela’s perspective in any case. And definitely not have made Karthi the villain in our minds. It would definitely enhanced this movie a wee bit as an interesting MR’s Love stories.

So, as is about most of my view points it’s about branding, positioning and perspective. And that is the order of the day.

You position a brand to give you whiteness – stick to the promise. You position a brand to give you edge and fashion – you have to feel the promise.

And you position yourself to be edgy, out-of-the-box -love story,  you need to live up to that positioning. Every time. Every film. Or you should have not positioned yourself  so niche!

Or simple Just reinvent and rebrand yourself to something which you are and stay authentic to it.

That’s what won our hearts earlier and will do so in the future.



The Author is the CEO and Founder of

Brand Leverage United (BLU), a Singapore based Brand and Communication Consultancy and a certified Personal Brand Strategist. She writes what touches her and what inspires her or something that is relevant to be taken note off. She focuses on Brands both products and people. All views are her own and does not represent any organisation.
Www. Anitapradeep.com


One thought on “Time for rebranding  Mr Ratnam! 

  1. For sure MR needs re-branding.. very well analysed from your POV
    “But today, there is tons of interesting ideas, awe inspiring real life stories, quirky thinking and beautiful and awesome real life videos and pictures that when a movie is all about great looking locales and a barge of interesting shots it just falls flat. No matter how great the cinematography or the photography or the music is”- This bit is absolutely 100% true !
    One small correction though….. Aditi Rao was not wearing Anokhi in any of the scenes- she was wearing a label called ‘Vrissa’- I would have believed an Anokhi in the Red Cross Camp in the last scene but not an expensive looking ‘Vrissa’
    And I thought VC looked like a schizophrenic anyway- doesn’t matter how his character is handled or how he’s been portrayed, he would have looked the same 😉
    Good read Anita !

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