Mani Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan to Produce India COVID-19 Fundraiser ‘Navarasa’ (EXCLUSIVE)

London Indian Film Festival/Netflix

Revered Indian filmmaker Mani Ratnam (“Nayakan,” “Bombay”) and pioneering cinema exhibition technologist and filmmaker Jayendra Panchapakesan (“Margazhi Raagam”) are producing Netflix Tamil-language anthology film “Navarasa.”

The nine-part anthology will narrate stories across the nine ‘rasas’ (emotions) – anger, compassion, courage, disgust, fear, laughter, love, peace and wonder – that are the cornerstones of Indian storytelling.

The films will be directed by actor Arvind Swamy (“Roja”), making his directorial debut, Bejoy Nambiar (“Shaitan”), Gautham Vasudev Menon (“Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa”), Karthik Subbaraj (“Petta”), Karthick Naren (“Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru”), K.V. Anand (“Kaappaan”), Ponram (“Seema Raja”), Rathindran Prasad “Trail of Blood”) and Halitha Shameem (“Sillu Karuppatti”).

The cast includes Suriya (“Soorarai Pottru”), Parvathy Thiruvothu (“Halal Love Story”), Vijay Sethupathy (“96”), Nithya Menen (“Breathe: Into The Shadows”) and Siddharth (“Leila”).

The film is being produced under the banner Justickets in association with AP International and Wide Angle Creations as executive producers. All the talent and companies involved in the project have offered their services pro bono, with the objective of supporting the normally vibrant Tamil-language film industry, now devastated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The proceeds from the sale of the rights  to Netflix will go towards the well-being of film workers in the Tamil industry.

“We have always loved to brainstorm and come up with unique ideas to raise money for deserving causes. This time the brainstorming was for the cause of our own industry, to soothe and try and alleviate to some extent the agony of our people who had no work for months,” said Ratnam and Panchapakesan. “The idea of making short films and raising money through them for this cause was born on one such brainstorming evening. We were thrilled when the idea resonated well instantly with leading directors, actors and technicians of the industry that we approached. The idea of ‘Navarasa’ was a spark when we discussed it and the industry has come together to make it glow, give it soul and make it count for its people.”

Srishti Arya, director, international original film, Netflix India said: “We admire how this wonderful ensemble of filmmakers and talent have joined hands to support the creative community. ‘Navarasa’ is a celebration of the craft of filmmaking and the magic of Tamil cinema that we can’t wait to take to the world.”

It is raining Tamil-language anthologies at the moment in India. Amazon Prime Video recently released “Putham Puthu Kaalai,” while Netflix’s first Tamil anthology “Paava Kadhaigal” is due imminently.

Ratnam’s oeuvre over the years has been a huge influence on an entire generation of Indian filmmakers. In 1998, he won Berlin’s Netpac award for “Dil Se,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, and in 2010 the Venice Film Festival honored him with its annual Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award.

Panchapakesan revolutionized the Indian exhibition sector when he co-founded Qube, a low-cost digital cinema package that eased the burden of transitioning from traditional movie projection systems.