Manisha Yadav: I never thought of acting in films
Manisha Yadav had made quite an impression as the teenager in the National Award winning film, Vazhakku Enn 18/9 directed by Balaji Sakthivel.
Now barely out of her teens, this youngster once again proves herself with her performance in Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer, a film by director Suseenthiran that opened to rave reviews last weekend.
The film deals with the sensitive issue of premarital sex and teen pregnancy and how society can be especially hard on the girl, while placing absolutely no blame on the boy.
Both her movies have been much appreciated, critically as well as commercially, and with two more projects lined up, this pretty model-turned-actress from Bangalore is definitely going places.
Tell us about your entry into the world of cinema.
My entry into the film industry was purely by accident. After I completed the 12th standard I did some modelling, but it was more for fun, nothing serious.
Director Balaji and his associates were looking for someone to play the role of Arthi in Vazhakku Enn 18/9. I was taken aback when they invited me to audition for the film, and even more surprised when I was offered the role a couple of days later.
After about two years, and just before the release of the film, I was offered the lead role in Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer, a film by director Suseenthiran. And by then I had started loving the industry.
Image: Manisha Yadav
'It wasn't surprising that Vazhakku Enn 18/9 won two National Awards'
Did you always want to be an actor?
I never thought that I would act or that I had it in me until Balaji sir discovered it.
I was too young at that time and I was just enjoying myself. So, honestly, I have to thank director Balaji for giving me this opportunity.
But I have always loved cinema. I especially enjoyed watching the movies directed by Shankar and Mani Ratnam.
Did you expect the film to win the National Award?
Balaji is a perfectionist; he knew exactly what he wanted out of his characters and also knew how to extract it.
I first saw the complete film in the premier show, and I was totally stunned. It was such a beautiful film that I was confident that it would win many awards.
So it came as no surprise to me when the film won not one, but two National Awards.
Image: Manisha Yadav
'I had a lot of fun on the sets of Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer'
Tell us about your directors, Balaji Sakthivel and Suseenthiran?
After working with these two directors, I felt that I have come out of two very good acting schools.
I truly feel honoured and blessed to have been given this opportunity and that too at the very beginning of my career.
I learnt the basics of acting and being comfortable in front of the camera with Balaji sir and the later part of more grooming came with director Suseenthiran.
What was your biggest challenge when working in Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer?
The first half of the movie was easy, as I was the same age as that of the character. But for the second half, I definitely needed some guidance.
Director Suseenthiran gave me some tips, but he also gave me the freedom and space to perform. I discussed the scenes with my mom and also watched a few movies to get the feel of it.
The second half was more emotionally intense and those days, I concentrated more and worked harder.
There were so many youngsters in the movie; you must have had a blast on the sets.
It was definitely a lot of fun on the sets, especially with Arjun. Even in real life he is like a comedian.
My co-star, Santhosh Ramesh, was a good friend. He never had any airs about being the producer’s son; it was nice to work with him.
Image: Manisha Yadav
Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer is a simple love story
Which scene did you enjoy shooting the most?
There is this particular scene where my mother finds out that I am pregnant and the whole family breaks down. It is in this scene that I realise it has been a mistake and a shame. I feel so bad that I don’t even want my father who loves me to touch me.
Also I remember on that day all three of us actually cried. We spent half a day shooting the scene and there was absolute silence on the sets because we literally burst into tears; the scene was so overwhelming.
How much of the movie is based on reality? Do you believe that youngsters today are irresponsible?
Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer is a simple love story that has an important social message. The film realistically portrays a highly sensitive subject and the unexpected climax is sure to blow you away. In fact, in the end the baby turns out to be the hero of the film.
But the movie is not only about my character. There are others in the film who have a very positive life. The most wonderful times of our lives are often our college days.
If you fall in love and know what you want out of it then things don’t have to go wrong. You just need to know your limits and be aware of certain things.
It is only when immature love and society come together that things become messy and others have to bear your burden.
Image: A still from Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer
'I am a great fan of Dhanush'
Who is the target audience for Aadhalaal Kadhal Seiveer, youngsters or adults?
Everyone who wants to watch an interesting, thought-provoking film, be it an adult or a youngster, will definitely enjoy the movie.
This is your second Tamil film; any Kannada films in the pipeline?
Music and acting have no language barriers, the glamour quotient might be different, but people will always love good stories.
I am a great fan of Dhanush and the huge success of his Bollywood debut Raanjhanaa has shown how language need not come in the way of good cinema.
I am quite happy here and people like me, so for now I would like to concentrate more on Tamil films.
There are rumours that you have been selected to play the female lead in Vetrimaaran’s Vengai Sami with Dhanush? Is it true?
I am sorry; I cannot talk about that right now.
Tell us about your future projects.
I am doing a film called Jannal Oram directed by Karu Pazhaniappan, in which I star opposite Vemal. It is a remake of a Malayalam film titled Ordinary, which was a huge box-office hit.
I am also doing a love cum comedy directed by S P RajKumar, Pattaya Kelappanum Pandiya with actor Vidharth.
Image: Manisha Yadav