Lover actor Manikandan interview: It took me 17 years to become a hero - Hindustan Times

Lover actor Manikandan interview: It took me 17 years to become a hero

Feb 26, 2024 12:14 PM IST

In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Lover actor Manikandan opens up about his long journey in Tamil cinema.

He is 36 and reveals that he entered the Tamil film industry nearly two decades ago with hopes of becoming an actor. K Manikandan’s journey in Kollywood was filled with struggles and while he didn’t get an opportunity to become an actor early on, he turned screenwriter and dubbing artiste. Today, he stands tall with two back-to-back Tamil hits – Good Night in 2023 and Lover in 2024 – but Manikandan says he’s not even started to work on fulfilling his dreams. In this chat with Hindustan Times, the Jai Bhim actor opens up about his long journey in Tamil cinema. (Also Read: Jahnvi Kapoor confirmed for Suriya’s Hindi film)

Manikandan in a still from Lover
Manikandan in a still from Lover

Lover and Good Night were both relationship dramas and you play an ‘angry young man’ in both. Are you worried about getting stereotyped?

Not at all. Yes, both are relationship dramas but Mohan (Good Night) and Arun (Lover) are different characters. A lot of people, including my own family, have told me that the characters are very different and nothing at all like me. But till now, if you look at whatever characters I have played, I have tried to escape getting stereotyped. Let alone the fact that the fact that audience will get bored, I’ll get bored myself! (Smiles)

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You’re well-known as a writer for films like Thambi, Vikram Vedha and Viswasam. Was acting on the cards at any time?

I am a theatre artist and I always wanted to be an actor. I entered the Tamil film industry to become an actor but the treatment meted out to people like me was not good at the time. I struggled for two years and then decided to start writing. I am still a writer and right now, I am managing both careers easily. Now, I focus on writing more for films that I want to eventually direct.

Today, you are a successful actor. Have you fulfilled your dream?

Not at all! I haven’t even started working on dreams. I have said this in a lot of interviews – I had a list of wishes that I wanted to fulfill in cinema by the age of 30 and till date I haven’t even completed one. But that’s ok. I have grown more mature thanks to this delay.

But you have struggled to reach where you are.

There are people who have faced more struggles than I have, so I don’t want to boast about my struggles. For me, it was about a lot of waiting and I faced many betrayals. There were a lot of sacrifices that I had to make. My entire adolescence and 20s was dedicated to cinema. I didn’t have a normal life like what youngsters do today – like going to the office, parties and outings with friends. I haven’t experienced any of that.

My family has also sacrificed a lot for me. There comes a point when your family depends on your earnings for their livelihood but in my case, they never asked me for anything. Even in the toughest of times, my father never asked me for financial help. They were very encouraging. All credit goes to them.

Do you think you’re lucky to have made it? A lot of people in Tamil cinema don’t see any success throughout their career.

I won’t call this luck. We cannot attribute success to just one word – luck. I came into the Tamil film industry in 2006 and in two years, it’ll be two decades. If it was down to luck, then I should have seen this success in 2007 not in 2024. Success is due to sheer hard work. Success is just one step ahead of you and it’s not the end of the world. If you are not able to see success with every step you take, then I believe there is something lacking in you or wrong with you. How long can a person blame circumstances for lack of success or failure? It fundamentally means there is something wrong with you or your approach and you need to fix that.

Is that what you did to achieve success?

That’s the only method that worked for me. In fact, for some time I blamed others for my lack of success and not being able to achieve things and it gave me some peace of mind for a while. But it’s just escapism and I discovered that later. And then I just stopped blaming others for whatever that went wrong.

Tell me three things you learnt from this industry.

Patience; the power of cinema and nothing can be got easily. Cinema has the power to touch the audience’s hearts and their lives. No other art form has this power. I have been astounded by the magnanimity of this medium and how it can affect the masses. Also, you can’t get anything easily in this film industry – you have to work hard.

What advice would you give to someone entering the industry now?

(Laughs) I don’t think I have achieved anything so great to give advice. I myself need advice. The fact that everyone’s journey in the film industry is different. Everyone’s journey is different and my game plan cannot be replicated by someone else – it won’t work for them.

What is next for you? Direction is on the cards.

I want to work in meaningful cinema. Work in films that are aesthetically taken and are commercial successes as well. This was something we had discussed for years and now we want to try it. Can we make a commercially successful film without following the regular template in Tamil cinema? That’s what I keep asking and want to do. I do want to direct a film and I am working on a script. But I haven’t thought about who will star in it – it’ll come to me when I finish the final script. (Smiles)

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