I cried about the reception to Sathriyan: Manjima Mohan
The actor, in this candid conversation, talks about Thalli Pogathey, early failures, and potential redemption
Manjima Mohan, who has Zam Zam, the official Malayalam remake of Queen, besides Devarattam (opposite Gautham Karthik) in the pipeline, believes everything 'happens for a reason'. Though she was 'flooded with offers' after Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (AYM), she has had only two releases so far: Sathriyan and Ippadai Vellum.
"I wasn't really choosy either," she clarifies. "I had signed a project with Suseenthiran sir, which eventually didn't materialise. Then, I was roped in for a big hero's film, but that also got dropped as I got replaced by someone. Even today, the director and I discuss the possibility of teaming up."
The actor found that phase of life to be quite difficult. "The director told me there was heavy competition for the role, and I thought this film was going to change my career. I began picturising myself in the role, but it turned out to be my first major rejection. When the film was released, I made sure to see it, and I must say the actor who replaced me did a good job. I wondered if I wasn't lucky, but that was a learning curve anyway," she says, with a philosophical smile.
It took Manjima some time to get out of that phase. "I figured God had better plans for me, and then, sure enough, Queen's remake happened. I am back on track now."
Her recent releases haven't exactly set the box office alight. "I was not sad about Ippadai Vellum, as I knew the film was doing well. But I have to admit that Sathriyan didn't do well. When I saw the first-day-first-show of Sathriyan, I knew something had gone wrong with the film. After I reached home, I locked myself in a room and cried as I couldn't accept the fact that the film was not doing well. I remember talking to Trisha then. She was very sweet to cheer me up. A lot of people helped me and made me understand that things are not permanent."
When someone tells me that I have to lose weight, I always take it in the right sense. But when someone who is out of shape crosses the limit and comments about me, I give it back.
She attributes much of her present popularity to Thalli Pogadhey. "People started to like me even before the film was released. I was nervous because I didn't know if it was something normal."
She can't stop talking about her director, Gautham Menon. "I assumed he'd be more nervous because he was launching a new girl, and had to cater to the expectations of the audience. But he was extremely chilled out. I never saw him scream at artistes on the sets. After the film, I remember taking a screenshot of all the positive reviews, and WhatsApping him," she says.
My dream role is to get to play Jayalalithaa ma'am in a biopic. She was a strong woman and I admired her a lot.
Such was the calming effect of Gautham Menon that she says she stopped panicking about the little things after working with him. "When I signed Sathriyan, people started asking me why I picked that film. I had just done a film with Gautham after all. I did it because I am serious about my career in the film industry."
Perhaps her biggest takeaway during the last few years is that she can afford to take time before signing her films. How does she see her growth in these years? "I've realised that even if there is a gap, people won't forget me."
On choosing Devarattam: Just because Sathriyan didn't do well, I didn't want to stop myself from doing rural films.
Talking about her upcoming Malayalam remake of Queen, Zam Zam, she says, "I was very confused as it was being made in four languages. All four lead actors will be shooting on the same day in different locations," she says. "I could connect a lot with the character, and took it so seriously that sometimes, the director would ask me to snap out of it. The first thing I asked my director was to not compare my performance with Kangana's in the original. I treated the film as a fresh script."