Versatility in plenty

The ruthless tantric Digambaran in the Ananthabhadram, the wayward brother in Rajamanickam and grim, brooding Kuttan Thamburan in Sargam, Manoj’s each character will sure live for posterity, thanks to the actor’s histrionics.

 In the City on a private visit, Metrolife chatted up with Manoj on his latest films and also on Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s film Naalu Penugal receiving the National Award where Manoj plays the lead role.

Manoj has played the role of a lover in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Randannum Oru Pennum that has just been released, “Praveena plays beautiful village damsel who has a number of followers. I play her lover,” says Manoj.

Known for his villainous roles, Manoj is equally appreciated and admired for his off beat characters as well. “When I just got into the industry I was a bit choosy. Now looking back that has done me a lot of good for I am still remembered for those few films I acted in,” he says.

He plays the role of Thalakalchandu, a tribal king in the Rs 20-crore budget film Pazhasiraja which will release this October. “My character is important in that it’s responsible for the turning point in the story,” he says. Pazhashiraja’s is among the first pictures kept in Parliament among other great men. He was one of those responsible for stirring up India’s freedom struggle. “We must make our young aware that such historical figures lived and walked this earth to make every Indian proud,” he says. Then Manoj plays the role of a 60-year-old hard core communist in Madhyavenal, meaning mid summer.

Manoj has acted in more than 20 Tamil films including Dhool, Thalapathi and Shringaram to mention a few. He has acted in Ugra Narasimha in Kannada and was all set to act with Upendra for a new film. “But the dates didn’t really match; so I had to call it off,” he says. A few of his films have been remade in Telugu as well, where he played the lead.
Language is a non-issue for this versatile actor for whom the character is more prominent than the language. “I was an introvert. I kept to myself and only mixed with a close-knit group but I must say that I have opened up a great deal. Many a time my silence has been misunderstood for indifference,” he says.

Belonging to a family of celebrated Carnatic musicians — his father Jayan and uncle Vijayan  are acclaimed vocalists — Manoj too has music in his blood. “I missed training in Carnatic music. My first love was acting but I do steal a chance to sing whenever I can,” he says. Manoj has sung for one of his movies.

Manoj attributes his success to his firm commitment to each of the roles he essays.

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