Can the movie industry tolerate heroine’s weight gain, asks Manjima Mohan

Manjima Mohan

She debuted as a child actor in Malayalam cinema. Between 1997 to 2001, Manjima Mohan has appeared in several films as a child actor. In 2015 she debuted as a heroine in ‘Oru Vadakkan Selfie', headlining Nivin Pauly. She did a few films in Tamil and Telugu and is actively back in cinema after a brief lull. The actress talks to Manorama online about marriage rumours, career etc.

About her new film FIR

Though we got a lot of offers from OTT, producers were sure that the film deserves to be released in theatres. I play this lawyer called Prarthana. I did the film when I was on crutches. If you look carefully, you will see that I am limping. I was in severe pain and the doctor had prescribed 3 months of bed rest.

But unfortunately, we had to start shooting within 2 and half months. They removed a dance sequence after they saw my condition. The film’s hero Vishnu Vishal has been maintaining a six-pack body for his character for the last 3 years. Since he had to follow a strict diet, I have seen him eating ice cubes at times. I am glad all that hard work is getting rewarded now.

About the unexpected accident?

I had shut the gate at my Chennai home and was walking back when the gate unexpectedly sprung back and hit my left leg, resulting in broken bones. It was more serious than it looked. When we went to a hospital, they put on stitches and assured us that there was nothing to worry about. But as days went by, I was unable to walk properly. It was when we showed at Apollo hospital that we realised the situation had reached a stage where my foot might require amputation. After informing my parents, I decided to go for surgery. I was someone who had learned to dance before I learnt to walk and now, I am not even able to move my leg. Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon.

To those who say that Manjima’s look has changed

I can't keep changing according to people’s perceptions. And how can you insist that an actor should also look a certain way? Every human has blood and hormones. And that will keep changing. Women have a lot more emotional complications than men. No one will dare to question an actor if he gains weight, but the actress is constantly under scrutiny for her weight gain. If she loses weight, they will ask her if she has health issues. I am deliberately ignoring such questions now. And sadly, most of the people who ask these questions will be those who know me and are aware of my issues. I really find them irritating. I am fine with altering myself for a character.

We haven’t seen you after Vadakkan Selfie?

No one called me. If someone offered me roles, I would have surely acted. My dad will throw me out if I don’t act in Malayalam films. I have grown up seeing Malayalam filmmakers and technicians at my house. I feel proud when I see the kind of films made in Malayalam. I think people are under the wrong impression that I will only act in Tamil films. I am keen on direction but that requires a lot more learning.

Are these rumours about your marriage true?

I came to films at the age of 3. I have never hidden any of the major events in my life from people. I am someone who loves sharing every small and big happiness in my life with the public. I don’t need to hide such a big event in my life like marriage from anyone. The person who put this news had called to clarify and I had denied it, but he still went ahead and published it. It hurt me but I let it be. I was really tense about my parent's reaction but thankfully they took it lightly.

Priyam’ film

I was the youngest on the sets of ‘Priyam’. Perhaps some 5 or 6 years old. Chakochan’s ‘Niram’ was already a huge hit during the time of this film. So Niram’s Shukriya word was already very popular. Since I didn’t know the meaning of the word, I asked a crew member about its meaning. Chakochan overheard it and started ribbing me—“You told him Sukhirya, eh.” The entire set burst out laughing. It was very embarrassing and finally, Chakochan himself explained its meaning. 

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