Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Doubling Her Impact

Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala plays a double role in the Malayalam film, 'Edavapathi'

By Shevlin Sebastian

When director Lenin Rajendran approached Manisha Koirala to play a double role in his Malayalam film, 'Edavapathi', the latter agreed, but on one condition. She would come to the set, with full make-up, at 9 a.m., and return to the hotel by 7 p.m.

Rajendran agreed. However, on the first day of the shoot, Rajendran told her, “I usually work from 7 a.m., and finish at 9 p.m.” A smiling Manisha sportingly agreed. “To my surprise she was on the set every day at 7 a.m.,” says Rajendran. And, on some days, when the shoot was extended till midnight, during a chilly period in Munnar, Manisha never complained.”

Edavapathi’ (Map of Tears and Blood), which will be released on April 1, is about the lives of the Tibetans, who have a large settlement in Bylakuppe, Karnataka. Rajendran had spent a few days there some years ago, and had been moved by their plight.

I realized that although they have been living in India for 57 years, their hearts are in Tibet and, more specifically, in the capital, Lhasa,” says Rajendran. “This feeling was there even among those who have never been to Tibet.”

Manisha plays the wife of an estate manager, who abandons her, and she has to bring up her daughter on her own. Along with the main theme, there is a parallel story about Vasavadatta, a renowned dancer during the time of Lord Buddha, which is based on a poem by legendary Malayali poet Kumara Asan.

Manisha plays the mother of Vasavadatta,” says producer Ravi Shankar.

Asked about her preparations, Manisha says, “Rajendran Sir had a clear idea about the looks, costume, jewellery and hairstyle of Vasavadatta's mother. I followed to the letter whatever he told me to do. The other role was about a modern-day woman in a broken marriage. That was easy for me.” Adds veteran cinematographer Madhu Ambat, who worked in the film, “Manisha was able to bring out the emotions of the characters very well.”

One reason for her good work is that Manisha enjoys working in the South. “I have always admired the strict discipline on the sets,” says Manisha. “I remember when I did 'Bombay' with [director] Mani Ratnam, one day the shoot was fixed at 4 a.m. And everybody was ready and shooting began on the dot.”

Meanwhile, 'Edavapathi' is a comeback of sorts for Manisha, following her successful two-year battle against ovarian cancer. And it has changed her as a person. “It has made me realise that life is short,” she says. “I now take joy in the simple things in life. And, as an actor, I am hoping that the difficult experiences I had while fighting cancer will reflect in a better quality in my work.”

That is likely, since Manisha has always been known as a good actress. Asked for tips to pass on to aspiring actors, Manisha says, “An upcoming actor should watch a lot of plays and films. He should become aware of different acting styles. To do well, actors need passion, dedication and focus. My grandmother also told me that one should always work from the heart. This will enable you to become the best you can be.” 

(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

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