From real to reel: Maniyanpilla Raju, Niranj to play father-son duo in 'Dear Vaappi'

Maniyanpilla Raju, Niranj
The father and son duo have acted together in a few films. Photo: Manorama

‘Dear Vaappi’ is a movie that showcases the bond between a father and a daughter. But it has a father–son real story too as both actor Maniyanpilla Raju and his son Niranj will be acting as a father-son duo in the movie. Both the actors open up about their experience.


Maniyanpilla Raju: Niranjan was cast in the movie even before I got a call to act in it. I was to play the role of his father. I asked them if it was needed as I am his father, in real life. The producer and the director insisted on me playing his father’s role. I had only a few days of shooting. Combination scenes were also very less, right?

Niranj: Yes, we had just a few scenes together. It is for the first time that we are acting as father and son on screen. Though we had both acted in the film ‘Black Butterfly’, we did not have combination scenes. In ‘Finals’ also, it was the same. I was nervous about acting with my father for the first time.

Maniyanpilla Raju: I was not nervous or tensed. I did not feel that Niranj was nervous either. I thought he was very cool while acting with me. Children are like that today. They are clearly aware of themselves. They know about their work and the nature of their work.

Niranj: Though I was tensed, I did not allow it to show on my face. Dad is my strong critic. He was critical about some of my film choices. He is a very senior artist. We are acting in combination scenes for the first time. Nervousness is natural, right? – After completing the dubbing, he called me up and told me that I had performed well. “That was when I was elated,” he said.

I had opened up about my wish to act in movies first to dad. Then, he’d said, “It is not that simple and easy. You must have the talent and passion for it.” This was when I asked for a chance in 'Chotta Mumbai'. I was a school student then. I realised that I would not get a chance to act just because my father is an actor. Today, this principle guides me.

I used to like cinema from a very young age. At one point I wished to be a pediatrician, only because the name of the profession had a nice ring to it. I later understood it was not easy to be a pediatrician. So, I then started working hard to pursue my other desire, which was to be an actor. However, I studied international marketing management. Dad was particular about academics.

Maniyanpilla Raju: He has donned khakhi in many films. On seeing Niranj in Khakhi uniform in the movie 'Kakkippada', one of the censor board members told me, he could see old Raju on the screen.

Niranj: I had put on some weight while doing that film. A stubble moustache and a police role - I also felt I looked like dad then. I got many comments in the similar line.

Maniyanpilla Raju: I had only given him one piece of advice when he came into films – Others in the set should not be troubled because of us. Reach the set on time.

Niranj: I follow dad’s footsteps when it comes to friendship. I would remain in the set even after my scene. I believe mingling with others in a friendly manner helps.

Maniyanpilla Raju: During the times we entered cinema, there was a close friendship between those on the sets. But, I think that kind of friendship and bonding is less these days. Most people return to their caravans after their scenes are shot. That was not a practice in old days.

Niranj: Dear Vaappi is a movie about a father-daughter relationship. Lal uncle plays the role of Amina’s (Anakha) father. Shan Thulasidharan has written and directed the movie, which has 5 songs. Cinema has changed. But there is no point in insisting that all movies must be realistic. While reading some reviews, sometimes I feel films can be only made as they think.

Cinema is a different world altogether. Some might like realistic movies while some others would like masala movies. There is a tendency to portray good films as bad by giving negative reviews. Not all movies and all characters will ever be politically correct. We can glorify political correctness. But can we be adamant that only good should be spoken and done?


Niranjana is my close friend; a person who is emotionally very stronger than me. We had to face many bad remarks and comments in the name of a dress that she wore for the marriage reception. I had felt angry and sad about it. Nevertheless, Niranjana was not affected by any of that at all.

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