Since his debut in 2000, actor Manikandan Pattambi has played many notable roles, especially on the mini-screen. The actor, who has appeared in over 50 movies and numerous serials, was also part of many mimicry and comedy stage shows. For Manikandan, who played the character Sathyasheelan in Marimayam, one of the most successful sitcoms in Malayalam, it is time to play his first ever lead role in a feature film. Directed by Sujith Vigneshwar, the film Rameshan Oru Peralla has Manikandan as the lead. The movie has already won an international award. And about the opportunity, Manikandan, an alumnus of the School of Drama, says, “I am happy that I am playing a lead role, probably for the second or third time in my career. It is also one of the best characters I have done. Director Sujith Vigneshwar was my junior at the School of Drama, and he has been planning this for a few years. He says I have some traits and body language suitable for this role.”
Quizzed if the movie would be a break in his career, he says, “This movie is not a groundbreaking artwork and my character is not unique in any way. I cannot say if it would change the fate of my career. But, this is a small movie that would be a treat for anyone who loves the art called cinema. It has suspense and some complex scenes with a great storyline. And my character, who is an online taxi driver, goes through some hurdles on the very first day of job. He goes through some unique or not-so-ordinary situations andlands in trouble. Everyone can relate to this character because it is wonderfully written. I hope I showed justice to the character. If it brings me a good break, then I will be very happy.”
The film features many actors with theatre background. It sheds lights on some socially relevant issues such as the ambiguity or inadequacy in the system and its law. How challenging it was to play this role? Manikandan says, “It’s not about the challenge.
As the title signifies, it is not about one person. Rameshan represents many lives and people can actually relate to this movie. So, the challenging part is how convincingly I played it for the audience. For me personally, I was very satisfied with the work, thanks to Sujith. As a friend, he knew what Manikandan Pattambi is capable of and my limitations, too. For filmmakers, while casting, knowing an actor’s limits and flaws are as important as knowing his or her talents. So, he put the trust on me and it was great working in the film.”
Manikandan, who played the lead in Mankolangal released in 2000 for which he also wrote the script, was appreciated for his acting calibre back then.
Mankolangal had won the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Debut Director, FIPRESCI award at the International Film Festival of Kerala (2001), and honours at a film festival in Bangladesh.
Manikandan, whose acting career spans 19 years, is still celebrated for the character Sathyasheelan. “I don’t know if it is good or bad. I still have not moved forward from Sathyasheelan. It does not mean that I am stuck there. When someone asks me what my artistic journey has been like, I would always comment that my journey has not reached anywhere and I don’t know if it had even a good start. I have played a few notable characters, especially the ones in Mankolangal and Odum Raja Aadum Rani. But I never had a chance to play such important and interesting roles. Now, I have got a chance.” He played significant roles in films like Chapters, Ee Adutha Kalath, and Friday, but he says those films never got him to the level an artist usually reaches in the industry. “This is a really long span, especially in art. But I am still fresh and I don’t think I have been given enough opportunities. Even awaiting the release of Rameshan…, I don’t expect it to get me going to that elite level. It is the fruit of the efforts of a team of movie enthusiasts and I will be happy if people watch it and give me some good feedbacks,” he adds. “It will be interesting to see how a film that doesn’t have star cast fares in the cinemas. I am very excited to see how audience will react to a small movie that features Manikandan Pattambi.”
Rameshan Oru Peralla will be releasing on July 19. Interestingly, another movie, Janamaithri, in which he has played yet another interesting role, will also hit the screens on the same day.
Irrespective of his screen time in the movies, Manikandan Pattambi has a special place in Malayali audiences’ hearts. From the announcer in Meesha Madhavan to Sathyasheelan in Marimayam, his journey continues and he has learnt to be content on whatever opportunity he gets. “I cannot tell you any dream project that I wish to do. I don’t think there is anything called a dream project or dream characters. For me, whether it is on the mini-screen or the big screen, acting is what matters. I would love to continue it as long as I live.”...