Lakshmi Manchu has been acting in Telugu films ever since she made her debut with Prakash Kovelamudi’s Anaganaga O Dheerudu (2011). But she has never shared screen space with her father and celebrated actor Mohan Babu. Until now that is. Manchu will soon be seen alongside Mohan Babu in their upcoming Agni Nakshathram. In this 1-O-1 with Lahari Velicheti, the actress relives the most memorable moments in her career and her experience working with her father.
The latest thing you discovered about yourself?
I found joy in saying ‘No’. I used to feel guilty, but now I have found the joy in saying no.
A movie you watch when you are feeling low or happy?
Hero No: 1. Govinda and Karisma Kapoor are really good in the film.
One important question no one asks?
‘How are you?’
People say, “Hi, how are you?” in a flow. But only very few ask that genuinely. So if you genuinely mean it, it is an important question.
Tell us something about Agni Nakshathram.
It was not easy to work with my dad. I thought it would be smooth. But it was very difficult. When he comes to the set, everyone goes quiet. I also remain quiet, because even if he is my dad, I got to respect him on set as he is actor Mohan Babu. Actually, I have to say this - when we were doing a scene together for the first time, he forgot his lines like ten times (laughs).
Your pinch-me moment?
I met Sidney Poitier, B.B. King, Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey, and Halle Berry, all of them in one night. I kept wondering if I was really there. So I will never forget that evening.
Describe a typical day on set...
There is nothing typical about a day on a set. Every day is a new challenge, a new miracle, a new fire to put off, so there is never a time that is smooth.
A life-changing moment in your career?
When I got my first call informing me that my first job was with James Caan on the show Las Vegas (American television series, 2004 - 07).
Generally, there is this thought that people from the industry live in a bubble and people’s voices do not reach them. Is that true?
It’s reaching us through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. That is why I call them (the people) keyboard warriors. They hide behind the keyboard and that’s their only fight. Of course, it gets to you. You can never know what a good or a bad film is, you do every film thinking that’s the best film you have done. But their voices do get to us. We do live in a bubble to a certain extent because our lives are very vulnerable and we have very little private space.
Let’s talk about Agni Nakshathram. Is it a very special film in your life?
Yes, Agni Nakshathram is the most special film in my life. Because of where I come from, as a woman and an actor’s daughter, people decided I shouldn’t be a part of the industry. So it was not even a dream to act with dad or even to act in Telugu, which is why I chose Hollywood first. Had I gotten a chance here, I would’ve never been in Hollywood.
But when you have a dream and a passion that will drive you to the end of the world, you will fulfill your dreams. Having gone through all that, it is special doing a film with him. For instance, My father and I were doing touch ups and talking, and I said, “freeze, I want to remember this moment.” It was not even about acting together, but the just subtle moments like sitting together while eating lunch on the set or doing makeup together. I cannot even express that joy.