Simbu is a lot of fun on the set

From starting off as the cute Baby Manjima who debuted in the Malayalam film industry , 22-yearold Manjima Mohan claims that she has evolved a lot. After gaining popularity with her Malayalam film Oru Vadakkan Selfie, she is debuting in Tamil and Telugu with Gautham Menon's film, Achcham Yenbathu Madamaiyadaa. Excerpts from an interview: 

How was it working with director Gautham Menon?

I was initially very scared, but he made sure I was comfortable on the set. He is a very relaxed director and you can never see him getting tense about anything. I slowly got used to his working style and started having a great time. He had watched the trailer of Oru Vadakkan Selfie and called me up for an audition. When I was in college, I used to see him in cafés. We used to stalk him but he wouldn't care about what was going on around him and would be busy writing. I had even casually told my friends that I would work with him in five years.Everyone laughed at me then, but now it has finally happened! 

What about Simbu? 

He is a lot of fun on the set. He starts pulling my leg as soon as he arrives on the set. It is difficult to work with him because he makes me laugh during important shots, and get back to being serious, while I continue laughing with everyone looking at me.But no shot is difficult for Simbu. 

Do you feel any pressure since you are making your debut in two languages simultaneously?

Nobody on the set tells me I need to do more because this is my debut film. But I want to deliver, so I put a lot of pressure on myself. Initially, every other shot was tough, especially in Telugu because the dialogues were not familiar. There were times when I would cry saying, `I can't do this'. But, slowly, I started getting used to it. 

Tell us a little about the film...  

It is about a very normal guy -a college boy -who loves his bikes. He gets into a situation, and the movie shows how each one of us would react if we are in that situation. He is not a typical hero; he is just the guy-next-door. 

What about your character? 

I play a simple, bubbly girl who is always smiling and loves chatting. She comes to her friend's house and that's where she meets her guy. 

Gautham Menon's heroines are usually intense. What about your character? 

My character is not intense.After you watch the movie, boys will want a girlfriend like her.The way she talks to the hero and handles everything will be realistic and adorable. I hope she joins the list of memorable heroines that Gautham has created. 

You are working with Naga Chaitanya in the Telugu version. Tell us a secret about him... 

He is a foodie, but also takes care of his health. He generally avoids junk food or prefers eating light. There have been times when he would say no even to ice cream, and I will be like `It's just ice cream. I'm the actress, and I don't care.' He would just laugh.He is simple and down-to-earth. 

How have you changed from a child actor to a lead actress?  

When you are a child actor, you don't really have to care about anything. You get to the set, say your lines and leave. Even if you make a mistake nobody bothers.But when you are a lead actress, you are expected to be more responsible. Initially, it was very difficult because I had to give up on a lot of things... like food. If people call me chubby, I am fine with that. But some were surprised that I got a role in Gautham sir's film despite being fat. Other actresses have pictures of themselves working out; I just have pictures of myself eating.(laughs). I don't believe in dieting, but eating healthy works. 

Who is your inspiration? 

 I like people who have fought to be in the place that they are in today . Like Nayanthara, who has faced a lot of struggle but has found success. She is the queen of the industry. Being in the industry for 10 years is a big deal. Not everyone can do that. 

 Does competition from other heroines affect you? 

 I watch a lot of movies and try analysing myself a lot but I don't believe in competition. One cannot be in all the movies; everybody has their own space. 

What kind of scripts are you looking at? 

I want to do roles that give me scope to act. I don't want to just run around trees, but want to do character-driven roles. I haven't signed anything yet. However, I'm getting a lot of calls from Tamil and Telugu filmmakers.Interestingly, I'm not getting calls from Malayalam. I keep complaining to Gautham sir that after I started working with him, I am not getting any calls from there, to which he just smiles. 

Published in DECCAN CHRONICLE Daily English News Paper Dated 26-11-2015