Lakshmi Menon is awaiting the release of her latest Tamil film ‘Kumki’. The teenager is confident and excited about her career in acting

Lakshmi Menon is one busy teenager. There are her Class X exams, then there are the tuitions and then there are the shoots for Tamil films.

Her first release, in Tamil, was the Sasikumar starrer Sundarapandian. The next film up for release is Kumki opposite Vikram Prabhu, grandson of thespian Sivaji Ganesan and Prabhu’s son. This girl from Tripunithura, a student of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hill Palace, does not sound like the average confused teenager when it comes to her career, “This is a crucial year in my education. So I do not want to compromise on my studies. But after I complete Class X, I will decide which way to head, career wise.”

Acting debut

Her career too has taken the trajectory of most Malayalam actors from Navya to Bhavana to Asin to Amala Paul. She made her acting debut with Vinayan’s Raghuvinte Swantham Rasiya when she was in Class VIII and then followed it up with Ali Akbar’s Ideal Couple. It was a Bharatanatyam recital that got Lakshmi her debut film. She learnt dance from her mother Usha G. Menon, a Kalakshetra-trained dancer and dance teacher. Her father Ramakrishnan works in Dubai.

“It wasn’t like I went out looking for work in Tamil. It was after my photograph was featured on the Vishu cover of a vernacular magazine that Prabu Solomon (director of Kumki) chose me for the role in his film,” she says. Sundarapandian has had a decent run at the box office and has completed 78 days and now she is working on Sasikumar’s next film (as hero) Kuttipuli, which is currently being shot in Rajapalayam. Sasikumar, she says, has been a very generous co-star, who was very helpful on the sets.

About her Kumki experience, she says, it was a pleasure working with Vikram Prabhu. “He has no airs, he is very friendly and he knows films. He doesn’t think he is ‘the Sivaji Ganesan’s’ grandson,” she gushes. One gets a glimpse of her age when she talks about how she befriended the elephant on the sets of Kumki. “There is a scene where I have to clamber on to the elephant’s back. I was terrified, then I went about getting friendly with the elephant and we got along just fine when the scene was canned.” About Sasikumar too she has good things to say.

Balancing school and career requires a Herculean effort, she admits. “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for my friends who help me with my studies,” she says. Her grandmother K.G. Indira, a music teacher who taught at the RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, travels with her to locations. “We go to the location on Fridays and return on Sundays. This is what we have been doing for sometime now,” says Indira.

Lakshmi says although she is proficient in Tamil she doesn’t dub for her films. “My voice is my biggest minus. The characters that I have portrayed are sweet, simple girls. For whom a sweet voice is better suited. My voice is a ‘bold voice’ which will better suit a bold character. If I ever do a cop’s role then I can dub in my own voice,” she says. A keen eye and a desire to learn have been her greatest teachers. “When I watch a film I observe the actors and their acting and I try to glean lessons from the performances. And, by the way, I am watching plenty of Tamil films because…” she is acting in Tamil films.

Being a Malayali, doesn’t she wish she was part of Malayalam films too? That people would recognise her? “Lot of Malayalis watch Tamil films and they are familiar with the Tamil film industry. On my Facebook page I get to see a lot of positive feedback,” she says. And by way of clarification she offers, “I am getting offers in Malayalam but let’s see…” Its time to sign off and for Lakshmi to take off to the next schedule.