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Malavika Mohanan: I have always been a rule-breaker- Cinema express

Malavika Mohanan: I have always been a rule-breaker

Malavika Mohanan, who was recently seen in Maaran, discusses her career choices so far and where she thinks it’s all headed

Published: 15th March 2022

In nine years, Malavika Mohanan has appeared in only eight films, a small number compared to her contemporaries. She has no regrets though. Talking about her thought process that influences her approach to acting, Malavika shares, “I’m quite selective, and I don’t believe in doing films just for the sake of it. I know several actors who accept every opportunity that comes their way with the sole intention of staying in the limelight. I, on the other hand, am driven to say ‘yes’ to endeavours that I feel are right to me, personally. At the end of the day, it's a creative industry; there is no right or wrong. I have turned down many films that went on to become blockbusters. I just couldn’t see myself in any of them and I have no regrets.”

Malavika believes that all actors have ‘two phases’ that indirectly dictate their choices. “Until you become a viable actor, you are just trying to make it. It’s a phase when one cannot simply sit down, hellbent on making ‘the perfect debut’ or waiting to essay ‘the perfect character’. On paper, it sounds like a great plan perhaps. In reality, it’s a tough business. One has to make the most of the opportunities that come your way. It’s those choices that define you. If you are a star kid, perhaps you’ll have a dream beginning, with the backing of major production houses and filmmakers. For a commoner, even foraying into the industry is a tricky task.”

The actor’s biggest learning is also closely entwined with her acting choices. “People will offer you all sorts of of advice but do only what your intuition encourages you to. Listen to your gut.” She considers her participation in Rajinikanth’s Petta, in which she appeared in a minor role, as a product of this understanding. “When I signed Petta, countless people dissuaded me from doing it, citing it wasn’t a prominent role. I would often hear people say, ‘It is not a lead role’, ‘You should wait for your debut as a full-fledged heroine’. I, however, wanted to work with Rajini sir, and it was an opportunity I couldn't let go of. Although it was a small part, I felt she mattered to the story.”

The Vijay-starrer, Master, however, has changed the game for Malavika overnight. “Master changed my life. I am now being offered films from different industries—Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi. These biggies tend to have that effect on actors, right? They put you in the spotlight. The audience begins to recognise your face, and you build a certain level of commercial value,” Malavika shares. The number of opportunities coming her way too has grown multifold. “I’m now getting exciting offers that I have always dreamt of.”

Speaking of what attracted her to the Karthick Naren directorial, Maaran—in which she plays Thara, a photojournalist—Malavika says, “I feel the character is different from everything I have played so far. It’s also a character I could relate to on a personal level—she’s a modern, independent woman, who’s outspoken but kind. It’s similar to my real-life personality. I also got to explore different shades and emotions in the film. For instance, the first half has many funny scenes while the second half takes a serious turn and is filled with intense scenes.”

This relatability also eased her acting process, she adds. “Considering how close the character is to my persona, it did not demand much homework. Most of the work, however, was went into on-spot conversations about how we intend to bring a particular scene to life. There was great scope for improvisation on the sets. Dhanush sir, for instance, would always offer suggestions on dialogue delivery.”

Working with a proven actor like Dhanush is another major reason that attracted Malavika to Maaran. “To be honest, I was quite nervous about being in front of the camera with someone as good as him. I was anxious about how I would perform or whether he would judge me,” she quips. “Dhanush sir, however, put me at ease. He’s someone who takes you under his wings and mentors you. He would help not just me, but everyone who is a part of the scene, with notes and suggestions.”

Malavika is set to follow up Maaran with Sidhant Chaturvedi’s Yudhra in Hindi, a language is at home with, unlike Tamil. “Thankfully, I’m at a phase in my career where I have back-to-back work despite being choosy,” she says. Do more opportunities and fame add to the pressure on her future? “Not really. I never followed rules. Neither did I take the conventional path to position me as a mainstream heroine. In fact, I always wanted to break rules. I don’t want to restrict myself to a certain kind of roles,” she concludes.

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