Manikandan, who rose to fame with his portrayal of Rajakannu, a victim of caste discrimination and police brutality, in the serious legal drama, Jai Bhim (2021), is gearing up for the release of his next, the slice-of-life drama, Good Night. In the Vinayak Chandrasekaran directorial, the actor plays a man who faces troubles due to his snoring in the new film. Right after Jai Bhim, he essayed a young man named Rajasekar, who is filled with remorse but is unable to express them in the anthropological Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal (2022). “It was difficult to play Rajasekar, but after Rajakannu, I saw this as a unique role with a lot of scope to perform,” says the actor.
However, apart from Sila Nerangalil Sila Manidhargal and a few other scripts, the actor reveals that he was mostly approached to play roles akin to Rajakannu. “While many encouraged me to take up the opportunity and told me that it would help me scale up the ladder, I felt the audience might feel bored and it would even get monotonous for me. I wanted to explore something else.” That is when a few others pointed out that he has been playing only serious characters. “I started to look for more fun-filled narratives and felt Good Night would be the right pick. It takes time to select scripts that interest you and this creates the gap between each of my films,” the actor notes.
While Manikandan agrees that survival is important, he asserts that he personally wants to do only films that he is interested in. “I have tried to do films just for survival but it didn’t work for me. When I tried to do it, working on something that I didn’t like deeply affected me. It took me months to move on. I don’t spend a lot and I earn enough to take care of my family. I don’t want to sacrifice my mental health. It is the joy of working that matters to me.”
Recalling his test shoot for Jai Bhim, Manikandan reminisces how he walked in the character’s look and costume from Ashok Pillar to Vadapalani to make sure that no one recognises him. He says, “Pattanam Rasheed sir, who did the make-up, told me to say people that I have missed my wallet and ask for money so that I can travel back to my city. I was dressed like how you see Rajakannu in the film, with that hair and I was wearing khaki trousers, a lungi and a very old T-shirt. I did that and no one noticed that it was make-up. So, that’s how the look of my role was approved.”
Speaking about Good Night, the actor says there were a lot of positive takeaways for him. "I am someone who spends a lot of time away from the family and even when they call me, I would shout at them that I am in the middle of some work. But this film taught me the importance of family. If we just keep focusing on work and ignore the family, there will be nothing left for us. We have tried to convey this in the film without any exaggerations. Secondly, the film will be very close to reality. It is a romantic comedy with progressive thought and message. In conclusion, the chances of you not liking the film are very less."
Good Night, also starring Meetha Raghunath, Ramesh Thilak, Bucks and Balaji Shakthivel, is slated to hit the screens on May 12.