Going by the history, there was a time when heroines aged 15 to 17 playing housewives and mothers awed the viewers of Malayalam cinema. Though they were children in real lives, most viewers could never hope for anybody else winning the best actress award. Fast forward your minds to the latest state awards declaration. Again there’s ‘history’. An actor was writing an examination. She came out of the exam hall to flashlights and channel mics, patiently waiting for her.
It’s only when the teachers told her what has happened did she understand all the fuss. Nakshathra Manoj, a plus-two humanities student of Memunda Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode, is the winner of the Kerala State Best Child Actor award for her debut outing Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu. Now you can relate to why an intro about former actresses is of significance here.
While she is taken by surprise about the coveted award, we are asking her why Nakshathra wanted to be a child actor and not a heroine. “I don’t know,” comes a reply packed in giggles, nothing more. Even acting came to her unplanned. She was chosen from her school when a team came in search of talented child actors for a film audition.
“I am an active participant in pantomime and theatre in school. A group of students from the school were auditioned and finally four of us got selected. When there was shooting, we would be informed and all four of us would go to the location. Everyone was so friendly on the sets and I was so close to Hannah chechi (Hannah Reji Koshy), who played my mother,” says Nakshatra acknowledging her beloved Shantha aunty, Vijayaraghavan sir, Biju uncle and Ranjan sir for being so friendly towards her.
As the news of winning an award spread like a wildfire, her fellow actor and schoolmate Amaldev came congratulating her. “Aswathy and Sanghamitra (other child actors in the movie) wished me over phone,” she says.
Nakshathra has acting genes in her. Dad Manoj Anamika is a playwright by choice. “I have acted in achan’s plays also,” she says.
The home at Keezhal village in Vadakara was thronged by friends and well-wishers upon hearing the news. “The whole village was at my home on the day,” she sends a smile of gratitude.
When asked what’s next, the immediate goal in Nakshathra’s bucket list is to do well in the remaining examinations. And it is too early for the little girl to predict anything about her future in cinema....