Mani Ratnam was born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, to Tamil Brahmin parents. His actual name is Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam Iyer. He did his schooling at Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Chennai. After graduating with a degree in Commerce from Vivekananda College, University of Madras, and an MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, he embarked on a career as a management consultant before becoming a filmmaker. He got into film direction with the help of his late brother, film producer G. Venkateswaran.