Manikandan R Achari has become a stirring presence on screen. His exceptional performance in 'Kammattippadam' and the state award for best character actor he won for it had thrust Manikandan into the limelight. Hailing from Thrippoonithura in Ernakulam, Manikandan had had a luminous career in theatre before he stepped into filmdom. Manikandan has essayed characters of multiple shades in 13 flicks so far. As is usual for creative minds with insatiable hunger, Manikandan wants to keep exploring. With his latest movie 'Shubharathri' unveiling yet another facet of his talent, Manikandan reveals his ambitions, personal life and career goals to Onmanorama.
I adored movie stars in my childhood. When I developed a keen interest in acting, I joined local theater troupes and started acting in dramas. I began my acting career with 'Bhasabheri,' a theater group in Thrippoonithura. Later I joined 'Lokadharmi,' where I played 'Karnabharam' and other such popular plays. From there, I was selected to perform a character in Bengali playwright Praphul Guha's play. I was a freelance theatre artist for long. I have played street-plays and skits as part of political campaigns.
Slowly, this dream of acting in cinema grew within me. At first, it was just a lazy dream. After a point, it became my prime aim. Later, acting in cinema became a necessity. My circumstances convinced me that there was no other way to survive than by acting in cinema. It was rather the nature's compulsion itself.
Apprenticeship in Tamil
I debuted in Tamil cinema. Tamil industry demands an exaggeration of expressions. Theatre artists will find their comfort zone in Tamil cinema. Nonetheless, timely changes have come to Tamil cinema and the young directors prefer subtle acting style to loud dialogues and exaggerations. Dramatic style was preferred during my time.
After that I acted in some television shows in Mazhavil Manorama like 'Marimayam' and 'Thatteem Mutteem.' I got rid my camera fear during 'Thatteem Mutteem' production schedules. I also learned subtle acting in an ambience facilitated by Mazhavil Manorama's TV shows. It helped me deliver my best in 'Kammattippadam' which won me the state award for best character artist.
The sets of 'Kammattippadam' movie was more like an informal gathering than a movie location. Director Rajeev Ravi never made us feel like there was a camera rolling in front of us and a director was scrutinizing our interactions. So I didn't face any major challenge on my way to silver-screen.
Why Karna or Ravan fail to interest
Fortunately, I have been offered characters that are different from one another. After Balan of 'Kammattippadam,' I played a comedian called Supran in Midhun Manuel Thomas's 'Alamara.' Then I played a character called Stalin in 'Karbon,' who is a wild soul leading a life close to forest. Yet, I will have to admit that I have not got another career-defining role after 'Kammattippadam'.
I think a person gets passionate about acting when he wishes to live a life which is entirely different from his own. One acts in order to reduce the time he is spending as himself. An actor's dream is always to play characters that are far off from him.
I want to act as someone who is totally different from my personality, living environment and behavior. I want to research about a character which is quite alien to me and bring perfection to it.
I have never aspired to perform Karna and Ravana from mythology like many actors say. Imagine myself as performing the character of a well educated civil servant. How about a doctor, an engineer or a police officer? My intellect would develop further if I take efforts to perform such characters. Playing roles that do not match with my real personality and circumstances, and bringing perfection to them is my career goal.
Family and personal life
I am the youngest of four brothers at home. I stay with my mother, my eldest brother and his family. Our mother is seeking marriage alliances for the remaining three of us. Meanwhile, I have found my better half. My marriage will take place this year itself. My fiance is a college student.
State award hasn't brought any big change in my life. It was all destined to happen. My success is the triumph of a collective effort of many people who surround me. The struggle might be difficult but when you finally achieve your destiny and take a look back, you'll find out that you have lived a beautiful life through all your struggles. I am happy in that aspect.
I have only two movie releases this year. One is 'Shubharathri' and the other is 'Ottam.' I only have a guest role in 'Shubharathri' byt my character is crucial to the story. Many of my movies are in the post-production phase. I have done a character in Rajinikanth's 'Petta.' I had shown my face in 'Kayamkulam Kochunni' and 'Mamankam' as well. I regret missing out meaningful characters offered in small movies while I was on the sets of mega projects.
My upcoming projects are 'Thuramukham' and 'Anugraheethan Antony.'