Ahead of Maaran, Malavika Mohanan discusses the film and what being part of star-driven films has taught her about commercial cinema

Ahead of Maaran, Malavika Mohanan discusses the film and what being part of star-driven films has taught her about commercial cinema

Malavika Mohanan understands the power of commercial cinema. She knows these are the projects that will help her reach the masses and put her in the spotlight, even if she has very little to offer in the larger scheme of things

This is what happened with last year’s Master, wherein her wafer-thin character was criticised, despite favourable reviews. Because of Master, she landed an offer as the female lead in Maaran, directed by Karthick Naren and starring Dhanush.

She candidly admits that when Karthick Naren narrated the script to her, she said ‘yes’ primarily for the canvas and the opportunity to act with Dhanush. Excerpts from an edited interview:

How has your life been post Master?

Doing a film like Master will make people notice you. There are films I have done previously where my work had received critical acclaim but that did not translate into more work.

Maaran is your third film in Tamil…

Karthick was still working on the script when he narrated it.

For any film to begin with, it has to have a good set of makers. Otherwise, it is not going to reach the right people; it is not going to get the right kind of release and marketing. All of these business elements are also very important. So it was the team that made me say ‘yes’.

I have a very interesting character compared to what I have played in my previous two films in Tamil. She has a lot more weight and has some agency which is rare to find for female actors in star-driven films.

Malavika Mohanan

Malavika Mohanan
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Is Dhanush intimidating as an actor?

When you are working with really good actors, you have this nervousness: what if this person judges you. But Dhanush was guiding me throughout the shoot. He is very giving and helpful as a co-star. So, it was like an acting workshop.

I think he has been doing this for so long and also, he is so good at what he does that he can switch like that. He could be cracking a joke with his team on one hand, and then cry during the take and convince you that he has been depressed for a year.

He could be cracking a joke with his team on one hand, and then cry during the take and convince you that he has been depressed for a year. I don’t know how he does that; I can’t do that. Maybe I’ll get there someday.

A still from ‘Maaran’

A still from ‘Maaran’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

You are in the prime of your career. Going forward, do you think you will be able to do one film for you and one for commercial reasons?

I keep thinking about this. I’m doing a lot of work in Hindi too now. But I love Tamil. Even though I started my career in Malayalam, I consider Tamil cinema my home.

If you are doing a film with a big hero, you know it is not going to be a great role. And if it is a very good role, it may not get the reach then it becomes a higher risk film. I hope that I get good roles in big canvas movies because you get to do your part and you know the film’s not on your shoulders. 

The trick would be to have a balance like Master. Since the pandemic, the audience has been rejecting films if the content is not good. This has already started happening in Hindi. But in Tamil and Telugu, big-ticket films such as Master and Pushpa are working because they are good commercial cinema.

You seem to have built a brand not necessarily through films but from your posts on Instagram…

I see it as a very useful business tool if you utilise it in the right way. I’ll give you an example. When I did Petta, I knew it was not the lead role. But having said that, I also knew I couldn’t do a lead role with Rajini sir because there is such a big age difference. But then, it had two or three scenes where I could really perform. 

Until I did Petta, I didn’t know Tamil cinema had these rules about pairing. I got an offer for a supporting character in a big director’s film. That is when I decided to wait and not do films back-to-back. Since I played a village girl in Petta, my PR team gave this idea of a photoshoot to turn around the image. So it is purely because of social media that resulted in me getting my second film in Tamil. 

If you were given an option to choose between these two: superstardom or multiple national awards, which one would you pick?

I just want to work with some really good artists. There was a time I struggled in life waiting for work. I still remember what it feels like. More than fame, I would pick recognition and validation because that is what will help me grow. 

Maaran releases on Disney+Hotstar this Friday.



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