The new (Malayali) kid on the block who is making waves in Kollywood is 22-year-old Manjima Mohan. Manjima made a sensational debut in Gautham Menon’s bi-lingual Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada (AYM) in Tamil opposite the popular star Simbu and Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (SSS) in Telugu where she was cast alongside Naga Chaitanya.
She played the lead Leela and impressed the critics and audiences with her performance. Of course, playing the heroine in a Gautham Menon film is always advantageous as his female leads are well-written, powerful characters; given as much footage as the hero. Manjima is already being talked about as the next big thing from Kerala — from where Kollywood sources its heroines.
Manjima is the daughter of veteran cameraman Vipin Mohan, while her mother Girija is a Bharatanatyam dancer. Manjima started as a child artiste in Malayalam films, before debuting as heroine opposite Nivin Pauly in the Vineeth Srinivasan-written Oru Vadakkan Selfie (2015), a super hit. After Selfie, she was on Gautham’s radar and he cast her as the heroine in AYM and SSS.
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Manjima said, "It was a dream come true when Gautham Menon approached me to play the heroine opposite Simbu. Actually he had only seen the trailer of Selfie and he called me for an audition. Later, he convinced me to do the Telugu version as well. He is a director who motivates you and tries to bring the best out of you.”
Manjima says she signed the film without even hearing the script. “For me, it was the kick of doing a GVM film more than anything else, as I grew up watching his films and his heroines — like Jyothika in Kaakha Kaakha or Trisha in VTV . Like a schoolkid, initially I was very scared of him...but he made me so comfortable on the set. And I was not keen on doing the Telugu version, which was shot simultaneously with the Tamil, but he convinced me to do it. I even dubbed for AYM, which is a miracle of sorts as my Tamil is not as fluent as my Malayalam.”
The delay in the release of AYM due to various issues was sort of a setback for Manjima, who had to wait for more than a year before the film finally reached theatres. Manjima admitted: "Yes, it was a trying time waiting for my debut Tamil film to release. At the same time, I wasn't offered any Malayalam films either — even though Oru Vadakkan Selfie was a super hit."
Incidentally, the actress says she was trolled on social media for her performance in the final scene of Selfie; apparently, her fans felt she wasn't convincing enough in it. But AYM has got the actress a lot of accolades. "I think today, Facebook and Twitter are the best way to connect with fans," Manjima said. "I recently did a fun #AskManjima chat on Twitter which went viral.”
As of now, Manjima is working with Vikram Prabhu in Moodi Chooda Mannan and an untitled film with Udhay Stalin. “I want to do a mixture of commercial films along with meaningful cinema," said Manjima. "At the moment, I want to establish myself as a heroine whose films work at the box-office. My role model is Nayanthara and I also like the way my good friend Keerthy Suresh is going about her career.”
"I'm a fiercely independent girl and take my own decisions," Manima added. "I believe hard work pays off and I take things as they come as nothing in life is permanent.”