New roles, new heights for Manju Warrier – the New Indian Express
Express news service
Now is a good time to be a Manju Warrier fan. The actor is going through one of the most prolific and exciting phases of his career. Like last year, it has even more surprises in store this year too. The effervescent manner in which she interacts tells you that she is pulling full blast. And as someone who has been following Manju’s career closely since her debut at Sallapam, it feels good to know where she is at right now.
Manju’s recent choices reflect her desire to try “something new and exciting”, both in film and in life. Even being part of a prestigious project like Marakkar was motivated by this desire. Unlike his fans, who were disappointed with his relatively short screen time in the film – compared to the other big names in the film – Manju isn’t bothered by this.
“When Lal sir and Priyan sir called me I didn’t ask a second question because being part of one of their projects is a dream for any actor,” she says, adding that she thinks that role duration or screen time does not decide a character’s impact. “It’s what the character does to the story that matters, and when I looked at this character she felt important. After Marakkar came out, I got a lot of messages from people telling me that “They were angry with my character. Working on a film of this magnitude directed by such an iconic team as Priyadarshan-Mohanlal is something I would cherish for a lifetime.”
Like us, even Manju wondered at one point why Priyadarshan took so long to work with her. She says the versatile filmmaker once thought of her, for 1997’s Chandralekha, a fact she learned while filming for Marakkar. But Manju can’t determine the exact reason they couldn’t collaborate at the time.
“Growing up watching Priyadarshan’s work, acting in one of his films was high on my wish list. His films made my childhood and adolescence colorful. The songs, romance, comedy and performances of his movies…
When asked if she ever wished she could play a role that someone, especially a legendary actress, has played, Manju says no. “I watch and enjoy these performances. Whoever played these iconic roles is irreplaceable. I can’t imagine playing them. No one else could have done what they did.
Recently, Manju became a co-producer of Sanal Kumar’s experimental feature Sasidharan A’hr (aka Kayattam), in addition to horror thriller Chathurmukham and her brother Madhu Warrier’s debut film Lalitham Sundaram. The latter, she shares, is a family artist with her and Biju Menon in the lead roles. It would also mark his first direct release on OTT. She thinks it’s a perfectly ideal movie to watch with the family.
A’hr, on the other hand, is a quirky experience that those who attended its IFFK screening last year will know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But that too is something that Manju found exciting as an actor and producer. Thinking back to the film’s risky shooting – the crew made headlines when they got stranded in their spot when heavy rains and flooding hit the area in the middle of filming – Manju recalls being was a frightening ordeal.
“Maybe ‘scary’ isn’t the right word,” she adds. “The whole movie is basically a trek, with the characters walking for real. There were no roads, good network or rooms so we had to stay in portable tents. But since it was a little movie, I thought to myself, why not give it a try?
As Manju is part of the same circle as Geetu Mohandas and Anjali Menon, I ask her if she has ever been tempted to embark on directing. She feels like she’s not good enough to do it now. “So far, all of my decisions have been spontaneous. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow. At the moment, I have no plans. ”
But if she ever considered doing that, what kind would it be? She laughs. “Well, my tastes keep changing. Even now, when new scripts come in, I search for romance because I want to. Because of the heavily female-focused movies I’ve made in the past, people assume that I would always gravitate towards stories of a woman struggling with society or something like that. It has all been done so many times.
She observes that this is also the case with offerings of other languages, especially after her highly acclaimed performance in director Vetrimaaran’s Asuran. “After Asuran, I receive more films with the same context or a similar model. I felt I had to do something above Asuran if not equal to that. I’m still waiting for the right scripts. There are some under discussion, and I look forward to them, but I am not yet ready to announce them.
Manju is also making his Hindi debut with Amriki Pandit, with R Madhavan. She shares that the film was put on hold after completing 50% of the shooting due to several factors. “We had to stop filming in April after Maddy (Madhavan) caught Covid. After that, we couldn’t resume because I was busy with my films and Maddy was not in the country. But we hope to resume by January.
Manju is currently in the middle of Vellarikka Pattanam, a political satire with Soubin Shahir. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen something like this. The frame evokes something like Sandesham, ”she concludes.