We Live In A Time When The Gender Of the Protagonist Is No More Relevant: Manju Warrier

“All barriers of language have been broken. I think content is always king — the script and the execution of the script matters,” Manju Warrier tells Baradwaj Rangan in the FC South Roundtable with Prakash Raj, Gautham Vasudev Menon, Rakshit Shetty, Aishwarya Rajesh and Tharun Bhascker. Excerpts from their conversation.

What has 2020 been like?

I was shooting for my own production when lockdown was imposed. When we started shoot that morning, we didn’t know we’d have to stop that afternoon. There was uncertainty, we were expecting this to go on for a month, and thought we would resume work. But, when we saw for ourselves how unpredictable things are, and how irrelevant we and our egos are, it was a moment of personal realisation.

When the lockdown extended to nine months, I chose to sit back and relax, stay healthy and peaceful — both physically and mentally — and keep my loved ones peaceful too. I did not think too much about anything else, since I knew we were among the very few fortunate ones who could sit at home in peace when the pandemic was going on and when thousands of people were fighting it, putting their lives on line. So, I thought I should be grateful for what I have. 

Do you see a future where great scripts are going to land up at your doorstep because of the OTT revolution?

I personally think we should all realise that we are living in a time where the gender of the protagonist is no more relevant. If the content and craft is good, and if the content is presented in an interesting way, people will watch and appreciate it. All barriers of language have been broken. I think content is always king — the script and the execution of the script matters. 

So, if that is done right, it will be appreciated. In my case, I’ve always been approached with female-centric subjects and stories. I have had to reject most of them, because they had the same formula, everything sounded the same except maybe the look of the character. I was fortunate enough to do female-oriented films, I’ve always had options in front of me. But it’s always good to see such movies doing well. 

As usual, the Malayalam scene (in OTT) is a little different from other Southern industries itself, but even at your end you’re balancing something as small in terms of scale like C U Soon, which was specifically made for a platform versus your film with Mohanlal called Marakkar which was supposed to be released end of March. How do you see this coexistence happening? Because, in Kerala, the theatres aren’t open yet. [It has now been decided to reopen theatres from January 5 with 50 per cent occupancy]

There are talks that theatres will re-open in January, so we’re all very hopeful about it. Right now, I feel except for a few films like C U Soon, all the other films are designed for theatres and they are now being squeezed into OTT.  It’s too early to predict. Now, content meant specifically for OTT is being made. Only then will we know how big it can grow. Everything changes, including the scale, quality, resolution of sound and picture. So we’re yet to see how much it’s  going to flourish. 

What I would like to see is a peaceful coexistence, because certain films  need to be enjoyed in theatres. But, OTT is more convenient. I personally feel they can’t be compared to each other, the experience they offer is completely different. The pandemic is not yet over, and we don’t know if the reason for the OTT boom is the lockdown or the quality of content on OTT.

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