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I couldn’t have asked for something as good as this one: Manju Warrier

Manju Warrier

Manju Warrier   | Photo Credit: Rajeevan Francis

The actor discusses her Tamil debut, ‘Asuran’, working with Vetrimaaran and getting into the skin of her character, Pachaiyammal

 

Nervous, excited, happy, anxious... Manju Warrier goes through a gamut of emotions as I catch up with her over phone to talk about her first Tamil film, Asuran, which releases today (October 4). Having breathed life into rustic Pachaiyammal in the Vetrimaaran-flick, opposite Dhanush, Manju can’t wait to know the audience’s reaction.

Also read | ‘Asuran’ review: A bloody, gory and glorious revenge saga

“I have been blessed to get strong characters till now and Pachaiyammal too is one. Wife of Sivasamy (Dhanush) and mother of three children, she is the pillar of the family. An oppressed segment of the society in Tamil Nadu, they are often exploited,” says Manju, without going into details of the movie based on the Tamil novel, Veekkai, written by Poomani.

Becoming the character

The actor admits that it took some time for her to get into the character. “I haven’t done such a role in Malayalam. The industry was totally new for me and I had my reservations about how the atmosphere on the set would be. But the team made me comfortable. They were very warm, welcoming and treated me with love and respect,” she says.

Manju says that the character goes through three different age groups. “I observed women in the area to understand how they wore a sari and how they walked, sat and spoke. Imbibing those things took some time. The Thirunelveli dialect was tough to get my tongue around it. Although I speak Tamil, it is the commonly-spoken urban Tamil. There were many words that I haven’t heard at all. I had to work on the intonation, pronunciation and the like,” she says.

Dhanush and Manju Warrier in a still from ‘Asuran’

Dhanush and Manju Warrier in a still from ‘Asuran’   | Photo Credit: Still Robert

Manju points out that the biggest challenge for her was not disappointing the people who had entrusted her with the role. “I had received several offers from Tamil before, but none of them worked out. May be it was for the best because I couldn’t have asked for something as good this one,” she says.

She had no second thoughts when the role came her way. “I was like, ‘Who can say no to this?’ I have been friends with Dhanush for nearly 10 years now. Although we had discussed some projects in the past, we couldn’t move ahead with it. He is one among the most-loved Tamil actors in Kerala and whenever he has teamed up with Vetrimaaran, they have created magic on screen,” she adds.

 

As for Vetrimaaran, the actor can’t stop gushing about his films and characters. “The women in his films get etched in your minds, in spite of the length of their roles. So I was confident about my character. And when someone told me that usually women characters don’t get as much screen time as I have got in Asuran, I was elated! That was a huge thing,” she laughs.

She was also impressed by the ease with his style of filmmaking. “Although the film had heavy-duty scenes, he never made it feel so,” she says.

The film was mainly shot in Kovilpatti. “When the project was announced, my filmmaker friends were excited about the whole thing more than me. They would call me up now and then to know the working style of Vetrimaaran and Dhanush. They were even planning to come to Kovilpatti. But I warned them not to come anywhere near the set!” she says.

Asuran also has Pasupathy, Prakash Raj, Balaji Shaktivel, Ken Karunas and Teejay in the cast.

Manju is currently shooting for Rosshan Andrew’s Prathi Poovan Kozhi. She recently stepped into production, co-producing Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Ahar.

“It was just an experiment and I am still getting used to the technicalities of it,” she adds. Her other upcoming projects include Santosh Sivan’s Jack and Jill and directorial venture by her brother, Madhu Warrier.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 10:12:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/manju-warrier-on-her-first-tamil-cinema-vetrimaarans-asuran-opposite-dhanush/article29574396.ece

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