'Rakshit Shetty ensured the Avane Srimannarayana sets had a positive and healthy atmosphere'
Actor Balaji Manohar, who plays antagonist Jayarama in the period drama, Avane Srimannarayana, talks about his character, juggling multiple skills, and more
On the sets of Avane Srimannarayana, all that Balaji Manohar did to become the angry antagonist Jayarama was to stay relaxed. The actor, who is also a popular cinematographer, was selected by Rakshit Shetty to play Jayarama in the Sachin B Ravi directorial after the latter watched his role in Churi Katte. The rest of the Avane Srimannarayana team too became convinced after watching one of his short films.
Describing Jayarama as conventional and composed yet menacing at the same time, Balaji credits Rakshit and Sachin for envisioning the character of the antagonist. “On the sets, Rakshit keeps everybody in a good and healthy atmosphere. That way, everyone is able to give their best to the role. We didn’t spend a single day in a negative atmosphere. We never rushed through shots. He was a generous and outspoken person. I saw good teamwork,” says Balaji.
Even after spending 20 years on the stage, television, and cinema, Balaji says he is feeling nervous about the fast-approaching release date. “I call this healthy nervousness. This is one of the most memorable roles I have performed until now. It is a kind of new experience for me. Moreover, this work of mine will be seen in different languages,” he adds.
Balaji has been dabbling in Kannada and English theatre as well as cinema. He's worked as an actor, associate director, and assistant director for theatre plays. “After 11 years of pursuing filmmaking as a career, I enrolled myself at the Singapore campus of New York University. I graduated in 2014 after studying film programming for three years. This course gave me a completely different experience and enabled me to equip myself to write, direct, shoot, handle sound, and learn everything about cinema. Luckily for me, I fell in love with cinematography, and I received an award at a worldwide competition in 2013,” he says.
Ask him how he handles the different areas of work in the industry, and Balaji replies, “I am an artist who is constantly evolving in different fields of cinema, and that’s why I don’t have a visiting card.” Today, he calls himself an art practitioner and does not like to project himself as just a cinematographer or actor. “I like to be part of interesting projects in which I can use the skills that the director and producer want me to. I don’t have a career plan. However, given a choice between acting and cinematography, I would opt for being in front of the camera,” he says.