Lalitham Sundaram: It’s all about loving your family!

Madhu Warrier and his sister Manju Warrier

When she was a child, she had to be literally dragged to the movie theatre as she was afraid of darkness. Once seated, she would hold on to her brother’s hands. He would often calmly narrate the story to her. Gradually, she started loving films. She became a star in Malayalam cinema, took a break to start a family, and came back to cinema after 14 years. And this time, she became a superstar in no time. When her brother instructed action and cut from behind the camera, she obeyed. This time, she affectionately held her brother’s hands while checking the monitor. This is the story of Madhu Warrier and his sister Manju Warrier. If he is the director of ‘Lalitham Sundaram’, Manju Warrier apart from headlining the film is also the producer. That’s the beautiful gift time has gifted them. The only person missing in the picture is their father who used to take them to all films.

Were you surprised by Madhu’s new role as the director?

Manju Warrier: Not at all. He has already produced films before. Films like ‘Swa. Le’ and ‘Mayaamohini’ were co-produced by cinematographer P Sukumar and my brother. He had already told me that he had a story in mind. But he never told me that I also had a role in it.

Madhu, did you write this story keeping Manju in mind?

Madhu Warrier: I can’t really say that. I first told the story to Biju Menon. It was when Bijuchettan agreed to do the film that I decided to tell the story to Manju. I told her the story on the sets of the film ‘Mohanlal.’ Later I gave her the script to read. I thought she will call after 2 or 3 days, but she called me that very night and asked me if she can produce it. I was ecstatic. Maybe the fact that my sister has also become a big star also made me happy. The concept of members of a family who are scattered coming together has always fascinated me. This film was triggered by that hope.

Why did Manju decide to produce it?

Manju: This is the story of families getting together. It reminded me of my father, our childhood. I cried while reading some of the scenes. I felt at some levels this was also our story.

Do you remember the first film you watched together?

Madhu: Manju had to be dragged to the theatres. I think our happiest movie memories were ‘Ente Mamattikuttiyammaykku’ and ‘Manjil Virinja Pookal’.

When Raghunath Paleri who played our father came as the character, we inadvertently looked at each other as he reminded us so much of our father. Achan would only wear cream colour shirts. Raghu chettan also wore the same colour shirts. We actually felt like we were seeing our father in him. And we did convey this to him.

Manju: I don’t remember spending so much time with my brother every in my life. He was in boarding school when I was small. Later he went abroad to work. I became busy in films and later in life. This is the first time I am staying with him for more than a month. The loving family bond you see in the family helped our bond as well.

Bijuvettan and Sukuvettan were always like family to us. I took my mother for the preview and I saw so many of them secretly wiping their tears. Maybe they could relate to it personally. We were all teary-eyed as well. 

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