Manjima Mohan is one of those actors who conquered our hearts as child artistes and went on to become frontline actors. After showcasing her talent as a child artiste in movies like Saphalyam, Priyam, Madhuranombarakkattu etc, she returned to Malayalam movies as lead actress in Oru Vadakkan Selfie. That movie paved way to her introduction in Tamil and Telugu industries, and she has established herself as one of the leading actresses in South India. After a break of three years, she’s back in Malayalam with Zam Zam and Mikhael.
Zam Zam, directed by Neelakanta, is the Malayalam remake of Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen. Manjima will be playing the lead role of Zama Nazreen in the film. “I saw Queen when it was released. I had a feeling that the movie should be remade in Malayalam and Tamil,” says Manjima. There was a considerable gap after Oru Vadakkan Selfie. She says she was waiting for a good character to return to Malayalam. “The call from the team of Zam Zam was totally unexpected. Since I loved Queen, I had no qualms in signing the movie. Only after signing the contract did I realise that my performance would be compared with Kangana’s. There will always be comparisons and criticisms; it’s not in our hands. I took the role as a challenge and gave my 100 per cent.” The movie, which has a brilliant cast comprising Sunny Wayne, Baiju Santhosh, Muthumani etc, was shot in Thalassery and France.
Manjima affirms that the role was really challenging. “I had never thought the role would be that challenging. The character doesn’t have many dialogues, but she goes through a lot of emotions. Many a time the director told me to snap out of the character as I got really involved. I was going through some issues at that time, maybe that’s the reason.”
She had a great time shooting in France. “The place we shot in was not a commercial city. It gave us a lot of positivity and had good places to shop. The food was awesome. We stayed near a beach and waking up to such a sight was marvellous.”
Manjima is playing the lead role in Haneef Adani’s Nivin Paluly-starrer Mikhael as well. The teaser of the movie was released on Thursday and it went viral in no time. “The screen time for my character is less. But whatever scenes I have in the movie, they are crucial ones. More than the character, I give importance to the whole package of the movie. The team is a very important factor too. Nivin chettan is a dear friend of mine with whom I’m always in touch with. The funny thing is that he wasn’t aware that I was cast as the lead in the movie. He realised this only in the last moment. The shooting days were really enjoyable. I also wanted to prove that I would do such roles in Malayalam.”
She has completed shooting her next Tamil movie Devarattam, directed by Muthaiah, in which Gautham Karthik is cast opposite her. She says that the director and the production house are the main reasons why she signed the movie.
Manjima says the break after Oru Vadakkan Selfie wasn’t a planned one. She had faced a lot of criticisms for her performance in the movie. Even the meme pages didn’t leave her alone, making trolls related to her performance towards the final portion of the movie. “I received mixed responses. I faced heavy criticism from in and out of the industry. At one point I thought acting wasn’t my forte. It was then that I got a call from Gautham sir for Achchan Enbadhu Madamaiyada. He decided to cast me after seeing my performance and that really boosted my confidence. Clearly he thought that I have the potential to do that character, otherwise he wouldn’t have called. However, according to the contract, I wasn’t allowed to commit other projects during the shoot. So I had to drop many projects. Now, I’m back with Zam Zam and Mikhael.”
Did the trolls and criticisms hurt her? “Definitely,” she says. “I was completely low. The movie was running successfully, but the comments gave me the feeling that I was the negative factor in it. I didn’t know how to handle that. But I had immense support from my family and Vineethettan (Vineeth Sreenivasan). They asked me not to bother about the criticisms. They never wanted me to give up and urged me to study from my mistakes. They used to say it constantly and encouraged me to overpower my shortcomings in the following movies.
She doesn’t have any dream roles. All she wants is to do some good movies with the directors she loves to work with. She doesn’t believe in the number of movies; what matters is the quality of the movies. She wanted to do a commercial movie after Zam Zam, that’s when Mikhael came her way.
Manjima feels that the working styles of Malayalam and Tamil films are almost the same. As her father Vipin Mohan being a noted cinematographer, she says she receives extra love and pampering on the sets of Malayalam movies. “But I’ve felt Tamil industry is more welcoming. There I got chances purely based on my performances.”
She doesn’t fear trolls or criticisms any more. That phase is over, she says. “Criticisms will surely follow. Even experienced actors are not being spared. They don’t affect me anymore. If my director and producer are happy with the way I perform, I’ll be more than happy. What matters to me is giving 100 per cent to the role which is entrusted on me. I’ve given my best to the role in Zam Zam. If the movie turns out well, I’ll be extremely happy. If not, it’s another lesson for me,” she wraps up....