Interview with Manjima Mohan about Saahasam Swasaga Saagipo by Maya Nelluri
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1 November 2016

With Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo just about to release, the latest IT girl of the South - Manjima Mohan, speaks exclusively with Idlebrain. Within just a year she has managed to enter Malayalam cinema, and is now looking forward to her Telugu and Tamil debuts. Manjima gets candid about everything from being told to quit cinema to what her ideal man should be like. Read on for some interesting chitchat with the gorgeous new starlet.

Child-artist to Leading Lady
“I always wanted to be an actress. There was no other option in my mind,” started our conversation, “when I was a child-artist, it was a great experience. But at some point I got fed up of the lights and decided that I wanted to concentrate on my studies. After some time passed I knew that acting was the only thing I wanted to do in the future.” So why did she wait for 11 years before re-entering the film world? “My father wanted me to finish my education because he believes it’s important to always have something to fall back on. I also wanted to wait for the right time.” And how difficult was it to go from child-artist to leading lady? “When I was a child there was no responsibility. Someone would teach me the lines and I would show up and have fun. Now there are so many more things to worry about like learning the lines, getting the emotions right, looking good. As a heroine I feel there is so much more to the job. Initially when I re-entered the industry I thought what if I’ve forgotten how to act and I expressed that to my director but he reassured me.”

Malayalam Debut
In the end, did the result of her Malayalam debut go as she expected? “It was a wonderful experience but there were times where I really doubted myself. When the film released there were people on social media telling me to quit acting and go back home. Some people were very mean to me at that point. There was a phase where I didn’t want to come out of my house because I was afraid that people would make fun of me.” That certainly must’ve been an ordeal for the young actress! “It was difficult but all that changed when Gautham Menon sir called me. All of a sudden these people who were talking shit about me did a total 180 flip of opinion.”

Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (SSS)
Speaking of Gautham Menon, how was the experience of working on SSS? “I really didn’t expect to enter Telugu or Tamil industries. They are massive so naturally I was scared at first. Earlier I thought that I would try to do some good films in Malayalam and I was actually shocked when Gautham sir offered this role to me. Since then a lot has changed. Over the course I’ve gotten so much exposure and met amazing people and big names like AR Rahman sir. After these interactions it has built a lot of confidence in me. Now I am very sure of myself and am looking forward to do a lot more work. Telugu people are very accepting of various backgrounds so I feel at home here. I’m truly excited about this film because it is a bilingual and both the languages are releasing on the same day. It is a very big platform for me and will be very interesting to see which audience will talk about me more,” she said sounding full of hope. Then she added, “In the future want to do really good films in all languages; so that even years later people should say that she did great work, regardless of how long my career spans.”

Shooting Experience
Working in a bilingual must have been a taxing endeavour, right? “The work was hectic because I had to perform everything twice and in different languages. I knew Tamil a bit and could understand it well because I studied in Chennai but I had no clue about Telugu. My proudest moment of the shoot was on the first day where my first take for the Telugu version was Okayed. It was a big dialogue and I can still remember the claps I got for getting it right. For the first couple of days tough it was very difficult but there was a Telugu lady with me who helped me with the lines. Every day we would shoot and then go back to the room and rehearse the lines for the next day. The team and my co-stars were so amazing that I could pull it off.” Can she tell us anything about what we can expect of her from the film? “My character Leela is a very simple girl-next-door that anyone can identify with. I didn’t really ‘prepare’ for the filming as such apart from the look tests because I like to go on to the set as a clean slate and let the director mould me. The story itself I can’t say too much about but it is about two people who go on a trip together, fall in love and are made to face an ordeal. How they deal with this experience forms the crux of the film.”

How was it working with her co-stars? “Chai is extremely sweet. He is so much fun to work with; we would actually sit and gossip about everything from food to girls, boys, just about anything. He is so grounded and such a simple person. As an actor he is very hardworking, professional, knows what he wants and goes for it. Simbu is a natural actor. Just one take and he has it pat down, unless I make a mistake. He is also someone with a very good head on his shoulders so whenever I need advice he is one of the people I go to.”

Future Aspirations
Looking ahead what does Manjima sees in her future. “I go with the flow. I’ve learnt not to plan because when I started this film I expected to work on it for four months and then I had a list of the kind of movies I wanted to do. It has obviously been more than four months since. Now I know that you can plan your personal things but you can’t really plan the filming part of it as much – I don’t know about others but I certainly can’t. I’m still sure about the kind of work I want to do but apart from that I am open to experiences.”

Ideal Man
And what about her personal life, is there a special man? She starts laughing, “Don’t you think I’ll be on the phone with my man instead if there was one! Seriously though I’m not against it! I won’t say that I won’t date but I don’t see that happening unless someone who understands my work and my priorities comes along.” Ok so no special man! Does she have a checklist of what her ideal man should be like? “There is no ideal guy according to me. You can’t go to a shop and pick out someone,” she says with a chuckle, “the only thing I’m very particular about is that he has to be genuine, trustworthy and loyal. I always tell my friends whenever they date someone – make sure that he is going to be loyal because if you don’t have that, what else do you have? My dad and mom have been married for over 30 years. Theirs was a love marriage and till today I see a spark between them. That is what I would look for. Someone you can just be yourself with, with no filter, no judgement. Someone you can be comfortable with in your pyjamas as you sit around and watch movies – that’s who I want!”

- Maya Nelluri

vijay jeedigunta

About Maya Nelluri: Writer, Artist, and Make-up & Hair Professional; but first and foremost - Telugu Cinema Addict! Previous work experience includes Styling for films and photo shoots featuring Shriya Saran, Rana, Saina Nehwal, Nani and many more. Also worked as Associate Editor for SouthScope and Copy Editor for Channel 6 among others.
Twitter: @mayanelluri

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