Manju Warrier appeared recently in Chathur Mukham, a techno-horror film. Her Tamil film Asuran won the National Award for Best Feature In Tamil with Dhanush winning the Best Actor award. In this interview with Baradwaj Rangan she speaks about her best roles in Malayalam, and how she manages criticism. Edited Excerpts…
What were some of the roles that were instrumental in your career?
Personally, every role is dear to me but from the feedback I have received from the audience it is Aaraam Thampuran, Kanmadam, Pathram, Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu, and Summer in Bethlehem. These are from my first innings. Nowadays, of course, How Old Are You, Udaharanam Sujatha, ℅ Saira Banu, Lucifer, Prathi Poovankozhi, and Chathurmukham.
You are a dancer and in front of the camera some dancers tend to over-act. How do you differentiate between acting and dancing when you emote?
Many people have asked me this question. I don’t do anything consciously and the shades of my dancing never came in the way of my acting. I just don’t think about dancing at all while I act. Maybe that’s why; it’s the best way I can explain it.
How do you manage constructive criticism? There are some directors who say that it takes them a week to read reviews after release. How is it for an actor?
We make films for the audience and their honest comments mean everything to me. I know the difference between constructive criticism and comments made due to hatred. It doesn’t hurt me at all. What should I do to improve myself? Is the comment genuine? Only such thoughts come to my mind.
In the period you were away from films, did you miss it?
I never missed the time I was not acting because it was my own decision. It was my decision to come back to films too. I am the kind of person who is happy with any situation, whatever happens. Who knows, I might stop acting again. We will never know what is going to happen tomorrow in our lives, but I am excited about the kind of ideas that are happening and the variety of scripts I am getting, especially in Malayalam. I feel blessed to be part of the industry. I strongly hope people don’t tell me to stop acting.
Recently, while you were promoting Chathurmukham, some of your recent pictures went viral on social media. How did you feel about that?
To be honest, it was very unintentional. They talk about the makeover everywhere, but for me, it wasn’t a makeover at all. I commonly wear such outfits. I had no idea why it was talked about everywhere. Then some people told me that it wasn’t about the makeup or outfit and that it was the positivity and confidence that they saw on my face. I really didn’t have the intention of doing something for it to go viral. If at all the smile and confidence was liked by everyone, it was given to me by the audience themselves. The love that they’ve showered on me has given me that positivity. I am happy that people thought beyond the look and outfit.
In the 1980s, there were some movies that ran based on quality alone. Do you think we are seeing that era again?
Of course, it’s overwhelming to see that many directors are coming in and making an effort to give equal importance to female characters irrespective of the orientation. The female characters influence the film as much as the male characters do. The kind of female actors we have in our talent pool is a delightful sight.
What keeps Manju warrier excited about the profession after more than decades in the industry?
I am still excited everyday to go for shoots, being an actor gives us the privilege to live different kinds of lives everyday. I really enjoy my professional life. One day you will have to jump off from the building, one day I will have to just drink tea from a shop, the thought of all this is very exciting for me.