Lakshmi Manchu on working with Jyotika in Kaatrin Mozhi, and choosing characters over screen time
Five years after she made her debut in Kollywood with Mani Ratnam’s Kadal, Lakshmi Manchu is thrilled about having wroked with Jyothika in Kaatrin Mozhi
Five years after she made her debut in Tamil cinema with Mani Ratnam’s Kadal, Lakshmi Manchu is thrilled about having collaborated with Jyothika and filmmaker Radha Mohan in Kaatrin Mozhi. The film is a remake of Vidya Balan’s Tumhari Sulu, and Lakshmi will be reprising Neha Dhupia’s role in the original, as the head of a radio station. The actress recalls, “It’s funny when I think about the first conversation I had with the team about this film. For some reason, they thought that I might not do the role because it’s a supporting character. It’s so bizarre. If anyone has an interesting character in mind, they should come to me (laughs). Nothing I’ve done in all these years has been run-of-the-mill. I played the villain in my first feature film, Anaganaga O Dheerudu, and my subsequent films like Gundello Godaari and Chandamama Kathalu, even W/O Ram, have been kind of edgy and different in every sense. Maybe it’s my last name which makes people think that I won’t agree to do such roles.”
Lakshmi Manchu is all praise for filmmaker Radha Mohan and says that he brought in a lot of heart and soul to the film, and the script underwent several changes to suit the Tamil nativity. “I was really excited when I was told that Radha Mohan is going to direct the film. I didn’t even listen to the full script before saying ‘yes’ to the film. I have seen the original version, and Radha Mohan has adapted it beautifully in Tamil. He brought in a great deal of discipline on set. The best part of the shoot was that we would run through the whole scene at a stretch instead of shooting it in blocks. It helped us to be in complete control of the mood and enhanced our performances even more,” Lakshmi adds. The entire film was shot in Chennai and the actress reveals that the whole unit pampered the actors a tad too much. “It was easily one of the best on set experiences I’ve ever had. I didn’t want to leave the unit in the end.”
Not surprisingly, she fell in love with her co-star Jyothika and confesses that it’s a joy to watch her perform in front of the camera. “The moment Jyothika comes in front of the camera, it engulfs her. She had some really lengthy dialogues in the film and some of them would go on for 3-4 minutes at a stretch. But she nailed it every single time. It was amazing to see her prepare for her role and recite the lines as if it was her first film. Not only is she exceptionally talented as an actress, she has been able to balance her movie career, being a mother, and a star’s wife. It’s not easy at all, but she has owned it. Thanks to this whole experience of working with her, I fell in love with the person she is,” she adds.
Ask her if she found it easy to relate to the role she was playing and Lakshmi says that Maria, the character in the film, is more sympathetic than she is as a person. That, in turn, led to a lot of discussions with Radha Mohan about how the character should behave compared to who Lakshmi is. “I could relate to a lot of things about Maria and for a while, I kept telling myself that this is exactly how I would behave in real life too. The only difference here was that I was getting paid to be myself,” she laughs, adding, “But there were instances where I would probably not react the same way. For instance, in the climax sequence, I had a completely different take on how my character would behave when she would encounter Jyothika’s character. But Radha Mohan insisted that I approach the scene from a different perspective. The focus was always on staying in the character.” Incidentally, her favourite scene in the film is also the climax sequence, where she, admittedly, was moved to tears while shooting. “It was so empowering to be validated for what I do in my real life too. Kaatrin Mozhi has a powerful message that, I’m confident, will resonate with everyone. It’s a film which everyone needs to watch.”
Apart from this film, Lakshmi says that she’s looking forward to her web-series Mrs Subbalakshmi, which has been directed by Vamsee. The story revolves around a woman, who’s vexed up with her husband’s indifference towards their relationship, and one fine days, she goes on a date with herself after her husband forgets their marriage anniversary. “I had so much fun playing the character and I’m really excited about what we have created. It’s going to be one of the best web-series made in Telugu. Moreover, I’m really looking forward to explore more digital content. It’s so gratifying when you’re in control over creating something unique and getting it across to people without any hurdles,” Lakshmi signs off.