I could have done better in my first film
... says Manjima Mohan, fresh from the release of her second film, Sathriyan
After her much publicised debut in Gautham Menon's Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, Manjima Mohan has taken it rather slow, "despite offers pouring in." She's careful not to accept every role that comes her way. "If I did that, I wouldn't be around in the industry for too long.”
She isn't perturbed by some of the unsavoury attacks on her. "When Achcham… was released, I was criticised for being fat. I was even rejected by a popular director for his film. Today, I’ve reached a point that I don’t care about such things," she says. "I want to work with filmmakers who care more about my performance. Gautham Menon, for instance, was one such.”
Manjima, however, has been working hard at the gym. “I didn’t lose weight to please others. I did it because I wanted to. Owing to how I looked earlier, I couldn’t wear certain clothes. Now, I enjoy wearing them. I feel good. Also, gymming gives me a lot of positive energy,” she says.
For an up-and-comer to decline offers calls for conviction; something the outspoken Manjima isn’t short of at all. “I've just got started, and can't really control the films that are offered to me. Even though my father (Vipin Mohan) is a cinematographer-director, I have got my roles on merit. Success means being able to do things on your own terms.”
She says she looks for four things in a film: The script, story, director, and her role. “The director’s judgment is most important.” She isn't one to be worried about the stature of the lead actor. “It definitely isn’t why I sign a film.”
A film alongside Vishnu Vishal that will be directed by Muruganandam.
Actor you want to do a film with
Fresh from the release of last week's Sathriyan, Manjima's desire to do films that matter to her is further reinforced. “Films aren’t just about getting noticed. I am very serious about this profession."
Up next, she has Ippadai Vellum opposite Udhayanidhi Stalin. “We have finished the shooting. I’ll be seen throughout the film. My character is quite unlike the ones I played in my previous two films. It’s more the person I am in real life--boyish, bold and straightforward." Manjima, however, says that the character is funnier than she is. “I am an emotional person. I can cry, but can’t laugh or make jokes easily. I think I need to work on that.”
Manjima isn't the sort of actress to oversell her work. “Though I gave my 100 per cent in my previous films, I kept asking myself how I could have done better. In Achcham… I wasn’t really happy about my expressions overall. To be specific, in parts of Thalli Pogadhey. Gautham liked it, but I didn’t.”
Being relatively new in the industry, she likes to take cues from her seniors. “Vineeth Sreenivasan, whom I worked with in Oru Vadakkan Selfie, is about internalisation and improvisation. Gautham Menon takes you deep into his world. He painstakingly explains why the character feels a certain way. Sathriyan director SR Prabhakaran has a terrific eye for minute details. He wants even junior artistes to do their jobs well.”
She's also working on a few other aspects. "I register things quickly. So, when a director explains the same scene more than once, I get zoned out. Also, I don’t check the monitor unless I am asked to,” she laughs.
She isn't too concerned that she didn't dub for herself in Sathriyan. “In Achcham… I knew I could do justice to the character that I played. My character in Sathriyan, however, had to speak the Trichy dialect. I am also not dubbing for my character in Ippadai Vellum. But I think it’s okay. I don’t want to meddle with things that I am not comfortable with.” Another actress would end the conversation with the promise of dubbing for herself in the future, but not the candid Manjima.