It’s not that easy to play a Napoleon in Tollywood. Something like … coming, seeing and conquering … is all a myth. But, only hard work matters. It is this belief that drives Manjari Fadniz, who shot into limelight with Aamir Khan-production Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. But, she is more willing to be known as the debut heroine of Allari Naresh film: Siddhu From Sikakulam, for the Telugu audiences. “I came, I saw, I understood a lot. My parents were a worried lot, believing that film industry was bad. But, I am a tough nut to crack and I can’t be conquered,” this talkative heroine states. At the same time, she pours out her first love for Tollywood, “I didn’t find anything bad in Tollywood. I am not bothered about what somebody tells me. I am here for a long innings.” Idlebrain’s exclusive interview with her:
What’s your background before coming into films?
My dad was an admirable army officer Lt. Col. Bharath Fadniz. My mom is a housewife. We are basically Maharashtrians. Colonel Sab was in the service of the nation. So, we followed him… wherever he went. That way, I was blessed with a very happening childhood spread over several beautiful places in North India. Trained to tolerable levels in the areas of singing and dancing, I do hold the much-required guts to struggle and prove myself as an actress. Till I reached my 10th class, I was a brilliant student. At the same time, I was the first choice for the teachers who would encourage me to be in the forefront at the cultural events. That’s it. To be simple, absolutely I didn’t have a filmy background.
What forces drove you to become an actress?
What forces drove you to become a journalist? It’s exactly like that. I believe such a force was right there and of course we both were born at the same time. I felt a strong urge within myself that I should become an actress. I heard a big call from the entertainment world. Of course, I only heard it from a distant land. I was out searching for it. At first it was like finding an oasis in a desert. After five years from the day of my first opportunity, it looks like an incredible journey. I have nothing to regret, but a great deal to cherish and to face even a more promising career ahead.
Tell us about your film graph?
I got the first opportunity with Rok Sako To Rok Lo and I was on the sets participating in the shoot. It was December, 2003, I think. The movie was a flop. I didn’t lose my hope. It happened to all for my good. I helped me to weigh the pros and cons in my approach. I didn’t why exactly, I remained aloof from the film world, and for a long stretch…may be a year or two. Was I preparing for a lasting battle? A dash of frustration also gripped me. Those circumstances taught me this. An iota of negativity is a must in the journey of a traveler. Had my debut film been a success, something else would have happened. Positive? Or negative? God only knows! But, I am hundred percent satisfied with the current placement of mine. I got my due recognition now, though not very big. My films Mumbai Salsa and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na have done well. At least, definitely I am not a nothing. I am more than something. You have asked me earlier. This, perhaps, is the driving force within me.
How exactly did that driving force help you?
Great question. If I tell you, you don’t believe me. It sounds farfetched. I am a bookworm. My debut film turned out to be a giant lure for me. How can I leave it just like that… having scratched the trove? I wanted to see the finish of it. I thoroughly examined myself. I read a lot of books for personality development and for deeper answers for my raw mind as an actress. Reading of countless books triggered my passion to the charge of the last bullet out from the barrel. So many incredible roles, romantic roles, adventures, pathos, sentiments… the whole of the human world hoisted itself to me. It was too much for my little mind to take all these stuff together, with the combined force of the Pacific and the Atlantic. This is how I taught myself. I am genuinely proud of it. Not to miss, I did watch a great number of films of all kinds of languages and genres.
What kind of support you got from your parents?
It’s a pale question. See, everybody’s parents are supportive to their kids. But, you will find the difference in me. You are lucky. When I readied myself to tread the path film acting, an area utterly alien to my family, panic gripped my parents. They resisted my moves. They discouraged me. They tried to convince me… that film industry is bad. But, I won over their mindset. Simply, as their daughter I won their heart. More than that, as a girl daring to enter the glitter world, I completely won their confidence. If ever there be a thing like rebirth, I wish to be born to my parents again and again.
How did your entry into Tollywood happen? Do you think it’s worth your dreams?
Siddhu From Sikakulam. After I finished the shoot of Jane Tu Jane Na, I got this opportunity in Telugu. Don’t get confused. When I almost finished my work for Sidhu…that JTJN got released. Director Mr. Eeshwar happened to see my profile in Mumbai. Basically, I am a workaholic. I didn’t want to lose the chance. I don’t know much about South films. But, I do hear about it a lot when in Mumbai. Why should I bluff? Tollywood has a magnetic pull for girls in Mumbai. Some succeed and most others drop down just like that. In this race, I was lucky.
What’s your education?
I did my B.A. (Sociology). I got my degree when I was working for Siddhu film. If time permits, I hope to study further. Let me see what future spares for me.
Tell about your plans in Bollywood, Tollywood and down South, if any?
Wow! You are expecting much to happen from me. I am not a Napoleon. Coming, seeing and conquering … can make an arresting myth. I just say, I have good offers coming to me. I am also doing a Tamil film Muthirai, might get into a Telugu film soon and some in Bollywood are under study. Just now, I began my career with Siddhu from Sikakulam here. I came, I saw and I understood a lot.
What’s your major strength as an individual?
I have learnt the art of living alone. Don’t take it completely, literally. Just, I overcome my homesickness. I began to understand and adapt to my new surroundings, people, my co-artistes, technicians, new trends in characterization and things like that.
What kind of roles you want to play?
I already said that I read a good number of books. I watched several films. I always want to do roles that shall have maximum impact on the audience. It should not be just like coming and going on the screen. Even it be a small role, I want it to create everlasting impression. Similarly, I attach big importance to script and the main content in it, its entertainment value, its pluses and minuses. I would be happier if the script remains satisfactory to all sections of the audience, away from obscenity.
What steps do you take to maintain your figure?
Do you believe it? During the last three to four years, I had cut an extra weight of 10 to 15 kgs. Now, I am 50. I can’t miss the regular exercises and food discipline. I am vegetarian since two years. I am also an animal welfare activist. So, naturally, there is no question of me getting fatty!
What kind of dresses you like?
My choices are varied when it comes to dress. I like sarees, western… and jeans mostly.
Who are your favorite hero and heroine?
Hritik Roshan and Madhuri Dixit.
What’s your definition of glamour?
It’s something that you find everywhere and liked by everybody. When it comes to be misunderstood as something sexy, just I am not ready for everything.
So, what’s your immediate Telugu film?
One project is in the pipeline. I can’t disclose it now. But, recently I read the rumor somewhere that I am doing a film titled Maska with MS Raju as producer. It is absolutely wrong. I don’t like rumors like that. I am also disturbed that some people confused me as Manjeera. Later, I came to know that it is the title of a film.
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