Manju Warrier:Most scripts I get are on women battling odds

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Manju Warrier:Most scripts I get are on women battling odds

Manju Warrier

Manju Warrier re-defined roles for actresses in the first phase of her career with films such as ‘Kanmadam’, ‘Summer in Bethlehem’ and ‘Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu’. Her second innings has been a bit of hit and miss for the actress.

While she proved her mettle in movies such as ‘How Old Are You’ and ‘Ennum Eppozhum’, her recent character in ‘Jo and the Boy’ received a lukewarm response.
Manju though maintains that she’s strived to pick different and challenging characters of late and her recent outings as a police officer in Vettah and a volleyball coach in ‘Karinkunnam Sixes’ are a result of that.
In a candid chat, the actress opens up about her worries of being typecast, her upcoming projects and how she plans to fulfil the late theatre legend Kavalam Narayana Panicker’s dream of staging ‘Abhijnana Shakunthalam’.

Preparing for the role as a volleyball coach in Karinkunnam Sixes…

My character is called Vandana, a volleyball coach in the movie. She was forced by certain circumstances to accept an assignment to train a group of convicts for a match. Not just me, but the entire cast of the film underwent rigorous training under the Kerala State volleyball coach T Harilal for two weeks. For my role specifically, I also had to train myself on the mannerisms of a sports coach and the zest and body language required in leading a team to victory.

Manju Warrier1
Being the sole female protagonist in films like Vettah and this film…
Being the protagonist in a movie is itself exciting and challenging. It involves a lot of commitment from the actor. But beyond that movies are all about teamwork. It doesn’t matter whether we are acting with men or with women. I believe the more we co-operate with each other, the more successful the venture will be.

Reel characters vs the real self…
Being an actor is the profession I have chosen for myself. When it comes to acting, I give my 100 % to the project that I work on. But beyond that characters are the brainchildren of the director, storywriter and script team. As an actor, I only breathe life into them. As an individual, I have my preferences in my personal life.

Being accepted by the audience in her second coming…
I feel humbled and blessed about the reception that I have received within the industry and from lovers of cinema. Even the roles that I have been getting are really special. It’s all because of the audience’s love for me. However, I know that stardom is momentary and in cinema it is the performance that matters, in the long run. I want to be counted as an actor who has contributed to cinema.

Recreating the charisma of the ‘old Manju Warrier’ on screen…
It is a complaint that I often hear from audiences and movie lovers, that the roles and characters I do are not as challenging as before. But as an actor, I have to select from the roles that come my way. It is a dream to act in roles that are loved by audiences.

Getting typecast as the woman who battles against odds…

I choose my scripts carefully and try to do diverse and challenging roles. I am fortunate that there are writers who write scripts with me in their minds. I understand my responsibility towards the audience and try to select roles and characters that are truly to their liking. Having said that, about 80 % of the scripts that I receive are about women characters who battle against odds. I do wish different and challenging scripts came my way.

Stepping into the Tamil film industry…
There are a few projects in Tamil that are under various stages of discussion. I am also considering a few projects in Marathi and Bengali.

Training under Kavalam Narayana Panicker…

I have always admired the world of theatre. Some of the best actors in Malayalam cinema have come from theatre. I was looking for a theatre stint and the opportunity to work with Kavalam sir came like a boon. He was a multi-faceted genius and the founder of modern Malayalam theatre. Without his constant encouragement, I would not have been able take up such a challenging role as Shakuntala of Abhijnana Shakuntalam, a Sanskrit play by Mahakavi Kalidasa. His team at Sopanam also helped me tremendously.
It was his wish that Abhijnana Shakunthalam be staged again and he had booked stages in Ujjain and New Delhi for the play. I want to now fulfil his dream and am looking forward to acting in the play.

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