Another set of thoughts revolving around dear old Mani Ratnam saar: those that can seem strictly worthwhile to triviamongers. It hasn't gone unnoticed that MR doesn't repeat actors very frequently. Where Balachander had his Kamal & Rajni, Raj Kapoor had his family, Prakash-Manmohan-Hrishikesh had the Big B, Mani Ratnam hardly repeated any main actor more than 3-4 times in his 17-odd films.
I took this conjecture a little further ahead by attempting to list down the total appearances of notable actors and actresses who had appeared to the accompaniments of mumbled dialogues, great soundtracks, slow-motion dance sequences and brilliantly shot scenes (to the best of my knowledge):
Four: Revathi (Pagal Nilavu, Mouna Raagam, Anjali, Iruvar), Arvind Swamy (Dalapathi, Roja,Bombay,Alaipayuthey)
Three: Nasser (Nayakan, Bombay, Iruvar), Janakaraj (Nayakan, Agni Nakshatram, Roja),, V.K.Ramaswamy (Mouna Raagam, Agni Nakshatram, Anjali)
Two: Prabhu (Agni Nakshatram, Anjali),Madhubala (Roja, Iruvar), Manisha Koirala (Bombay, Dil Se), Prakash Raj (Iruvar, Kannathil Muthamittal), Madhavan (Alaipayuthey, Kannathil Mutthamittal), Mohanlal (Unuru, Iruvar), Mohan (Idaya Kovil, Mouna Raagam), Karthik (Mouna Raagam, Agni Nakshatram), Tinnu Anand (Nayakan, Bombay), Delhi Ganesh (Nayakan, Iruvar)
Notable Singles: Anil Kapoor (Pallavi Anu Pallavi), Kamalhassan (Nayakan), Nagarjuna & Girija (Geetanjali), Raghuvaran
(Geetanjali) Anjali (always meant this: thanks Harish for pointing out), Rajnikanth (Dalapathi), Mamootty (Dalapathi),
Pankaj Kapur (Roja), Prashant, Anu Agarwal (Thiruda Thiruda), Gautami, Aishwarya Rai, Tabu (Iruvar), Shah Rukh Khan,Raghuvir Yadav &
Preity Zinta(Dil Se), Shalini, Khushboo, Vivek, Sukumari (Alaipayuthey), Chakravarthi, Nandita Das & Simran (Kannathil Muthamittal),
Amrish Puri, Shobhana & Bhanupriya (Dalapathi), Satyaraj (Pagal Nilavu)
So Revathy and Arvind Swamy top the list. If one were to consider Arvind Swamy's offscreen contributions to Iruvar, he might go up the list. For that matter, Revathi might've done the same too (she has voiced a few characters on screen).
I learnt a few things and remembered a few forgotten cameos along the way, ultimately using the IMDB entry to fill in a few holes. If I've left out someone or some appearance, let me know.
Aayudha Ezhuthu (untitled as yet in Hindi) will add a few more first-timers (Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi in addition to the others in Hindi & Tamil) to the list, while Simran makes her second Ratnam film in a row. More significantly, Madhavan will have completed a hat-trick, no other person has done this AFAIK. I haven't mentioned some of the other character artistes, or the Mani Ratnam pioneered guest song appearances.
What about the most notable absentees from this list? Sivaji Ganesan for sure (will never happen now, sadly). Amitabh? Aamir? And how about Suhasini! And one wished Kamalhassan and he could get down to making a movie again, something that almost happened last year.
Enough trivia timepass for now.