Finally, Muthumani breaks free from stereotyped roles

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Malayalam film actress Muthumani has conquered the hearts of movie lovers with her splendid and realistic performances. Her distinctive curly locks have played a major role in securing the kind of roles that she has often essayed until now. But with her extraordinary performance in Mammootty-starrer 'Uncle', Muthumani has clearly come out of her bubbly image. The audience was seen applauding the actress as she delivered a power-packed performance in the climax of this successful movie. Muthumani reveals how she unexpectedly landed the role in 'Uncle'.

How do you feel as you take up altogether new roles?

Though the characters I did until now were all a little mischievous, they were all courageous women who never hesitated to voice their opinions or take their own stands. ‘Lekshmi’, the role I played in ‘Uncle’ is a homemaker who has her own strong opinions. The funniest fact is that I was initially offered another role in the movie. But the artiste who was supposed to essay this character couldn’t turn up for the filming. I was at my mother’s ancestral home celebrating Diwali, and one day producer Joy Mathew called and asked me to join for the shoot as soon as possible. I got an idea of the climax only when I had the dialogues on the set. I couldn’t relate to the character initially. When I told Joyettan that I was not confident, he said, ‘It’s just you who isn’t confident. I have confidence in you.’

You played the role of a teenager’s mother. How was it?

I have gone through all those tensions that you have seen in the movie. I actually walked into the climax as it was the last day of Mammootty’s schedule. I am always worried about outdoor shoots. At the sets that day, besides the crew, there were some local people as well. I had lengthy dialogues and it was then cinematographer Azhagappan sir said that they were going to can the full shot using a steady cam. Joyettan encouraged me by saying that it was okay even if I mouth something that was not written in script as long as I retain the mood of the scene. Director Girish Damodar, a native of Ulliyeri, helped me with the Kozhikode slang.

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Karthika arrived alone for the filming. When I reached the set, she was down with fever. I felt a motherly attachment towards her when I cared for her then. I was able to relax only after the climax portion was shot. It was during the promotion of the movie that Joy Mathew revealed a secret. When the artist who was supposed to do the role backed out, it was Mamookka who suggested my name. I felt extremely happy hearing that.

How was your experience playing amazing roles with two superstars?

They have clear knowledge about the past and the present incidents despite a busy schedule. Mohanlal had joined the sets of ‘Rasathantram’ immediately after he did the drama ‘ Karnabharam’. He talked about theatre when he came to know that I too come from that background. Whenever we meet, Mammootty would speak about the new developments in the legal field. It was Mammookka who advised me about the various nuances of dubbing like where to cut or where to breathe, when I decided to dub for ‘Kadal Kadannoru Mathukutty’. Every one used to tease me saying that whoever dubbed for me may have suffocated. I usually talk very fast, and would stop mid sentence.

How was your entry into the films?

In our childhood, my elder sister and I were often taken for cultural programmes like dance and drama as well as concerts by parents with the same enthusiasm with which we were taken to the parks and other places. That is how we entered into the world of art. My sister was interested in dance and I was into the theatre. My parents Somasundaran and Sherly had a love marriage. Both were teachers who won the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy awards.

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Later, I have had the good fortune to visit Greece to perform drama with a troupe called the ‘Lokadharmi’. The planned theatre festival there couldn't be held as per its original schedule, and when it was conducted about 7 months later, a few artists had left the troupe. It was then Chandradathan sir asked my father whether I could act in their play which was originally scheduled for the festival. I was studying in class 11 then, and I played the role of a woman in her 40s who is the mother of two kids. We were stunned when we landed in Greece to stage the play ‘Media’. There were lots of flex boards announcing the festival, right outside the airport. Flex boards and arches were not common in our place then. So we were all surprised and excited.

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