“Oru kadha sollata sir? (Shall I let you know a narrative, sir?)” asks Vedha, essayed by actor Vijay Sethupathi, each time he shares a snippet of his life within the 2017 neo-noir thriller Vikram Vedha.
The person behind this well-liked dialogue, Ok Manikandan, too, has many snippets from his life to share. For him, being an actor was ‘far-fetched’, he says, as a result of rejection within the movie trade was a continuing.
“There are lots of people who would put you down within the first assembly itself. I misplaced curiosity in performing due to the fixed rejection and insults,” he mentioned in an interview with The Hindu.
However his expertise speaks for itself in the present day, together with his easy efficiency in Se Gnanavel’s Jai Bhim (2021). The movie — during which he portrays the position of Rajakannu, a member of the Irular neighborhood (a Dravidian ethnic group) — tells the story of a custodial killing primarily based on a real-life incident that came about in 1993. Jai Bhim, which has been shortlisted for the Oscars this yr, depicts the struggles of minority communities within the face of extreme caste discrimination.
Gracefully donning many hats
Evidently, Manikandan is a person of various abilities. Whereas his title has been hooked up with a number of acclaimed films, his journey started as a mimicry artist. The inspiration to pursue the craft, he says, was his mom.
“My mom may be very proficient. At each household gathering, she is going to carry out mimicry, imitating members of the family and get uproarious laughs. She’ll naturally create an viewers round her,” he informed Movie Companion.
On the age of eight, he knew he wished to chase the identical excessive. His tryst with mimicry started with imitations of his grandparents, and later, movie comedians.
The 33-year-old was raised in a slum tenement on Greenways Street in Chennai. “Taking part in cricket, flying kites, all my happiness was right here,” he informed Movie Companion. Being the first-generation graduate in his household, he got down to discover employment after ending his engineering diploma. However his coronary heart all the time remained with the world of cinema.
“A preferred actuality comedy present turned out to be the platform for me,” he informed Deccan Chronicle. Unwilling to take part at first. Manikandan was pushed by his buddies. Ultimately, he was the present’s first runner up.
From hereon, he realised that his expertise lay in his voice. He went on to turn out to be a radio jockey, and his introduction to movies got here as a dubbing artist. “I’ve dubbed for many of the actors in Tamil cinema,” he informed The Hindu.
Over time, he labored as an assistant director in over 20 films. His directorial debut, the telefilm Narai Ezhudhum Suyasaritham (2015), was screened at a number of worldwide movie festivals. He was additionally a scriptwriter of the superhit Ajith starrer Vishwasam (2019).
In 2016, he performed a small position in Nalan Kumarasamy’s Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum. The truth is, it was this movie that turned his fortunes. His dubbing job would provide him round Rs 200 a day, simply sufficient to cowl his fundamental bills. Issues modified, after all, when Kumaraswamy roped him in for the position.
Manikandan obtained his first notable position in Pa Ranjith’s political drama Kaala (2018). Later, he performed the lead position in Halitha Shameem’s Sillu Karupatti (2019) and Aelay (2021). He additionally appeared within the critically acclaimed anthology movie Paava Kadhaigal (2020) in a small however highly effective position.
Manikandan sums up his journey in his personal phrases — “Once I see myself as an astral projection, I’m all the time amazed at my braveness. Take a look at this man, who has had the braveness to go this far, regardless of having been damaged so many instances earlier than.”
(Edited by Divya Sethu)