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After ‘Madhura Manohara Moham’, Rajisha Vijayan stresses on the importance of creative collaborations in films


Rajisha Vijayan’s Meera Mohan, her character in her latest Malayalam release Madhura Manohara Moham, is the opposite of what Meera projects to her friends and family. Her character is a dark shade of grey. The actor confesses to leaning towards such characters. “Human beings are not all black and white; I want to explore such characters. Even Eli [Elizabeth, her character in her debut film Anuraga Karikkin Vellam] is not likeable in the beginning but she transforms as the film progresses,” says the Kochi-based actor over the phone from Kozhikode,where she is on a break. 

Meera simultaneously dates multiple men without regret or guilt. It is to the credit of director Stephy Zavior and writers, Mahesh Gopal and Jai Vishnu, that there is no moral to be taken home when the film ends. The ending is open-ended, leaving the audience to wonder if indeed Meera has ‘mended’ her ways. 

“Nobody has had issues with the character, and she been not been judged. Do we judge a male character who does the same thing [in films]? We tend to laugh it off without taking it too seriously. The same applies here.” To get into the character’s head space, she had to think like Meera because “she wouldn’t judge herself.” She is happy that the audience “got it” and did not “misunderstand” her character. 

On a roll

Rajisha is on a roll; this is her fifth release of the year after Lovefully Yours Veda, Pakalum Paathiravum, Amala, and Kolla. MMM is doing well at the box office, especially drawing family audiences to theatres. “The success of the film shows that content is king. MMM is a small film, be it in terms of the budget or the setting. Regardless of the scale or the clout of the actors, content rules. And this film also proves that humour brings the audience to theatres. Look at films such as Romancham, Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya He etc which did good business. Humour is not being written as before. People want to come watch films just to laugh, such family films are not being made like they were a decade or so ago,” she maintains.  

Rajisha Vijayan
| Photo Credit:
SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The team was advised against releasing the film in June. Apprehensions, which included the rain and school reopening playing spoilsport, were misplaced. Rajisha credits 2018 for giving a new lease of life to the Malayalam film industry hit by lukewarm response to theatre releases. “2018 wrought a huge change, a welcome change — bringing Kerala back to theatres.” 

The game changer for Rajisha was Ahammed Khabeer’s June (2017) despite her debut role getting her the State Award for Best Actor (female). The coming-of-age film was about a young woman June Sara Joy navigating her way through life and love. The blockbuster had her act alongside actors such as Sunny Wayne [in a cameo], Arjun Ashokan, Joju George, and Aju Varghese besides others. It opened the gates to projects that had her shouldering the film; movies such as Finals, Kho Kho, Freedom Fight [Geethu Unchained in the anthology film], and Kolla

Shouldering a film

“Post-June, such films started coming my way but I don’t want to stress myself about it. Somebody has to shoulder a film — the hero or the heroine. Not everyone is given the privilege of doing it. That said, I want to do different types of characters and try not to be repetitive. I try to take on roles that would help me evolve as an actor. The length of the role does not matter. My role in Malayankunju was small, but it was relevant to the script.” 

Suraj Varma, director of Kolla, lists that as one of the reasons he chose Rajisha as Annie in the film. “She is one of those actors who doesn’t look for somebody to take on the film. She has no fears about taking on a film without a ‘hero’ and making it her own,” he adds. The heist film is about two women — an unconventional choice — has Rajisha and Priya Varier as two friends who rob a bank.   

That producers invest in such projects proves that she is considered bankable. “Being bankable is important, after all the business aspect is as important as the creative side of things. A producer may not get a 100% return on all films, but films should collect decently. At the end of the day, we are all trying to make good films in the hope that things work out,” Rajisha says.   

Although director Stephy Zavior is one of her closest friends in the industry, she confesses she received no special treatment on account of that. The plus was that her shots were okayed in a couple of takes, “because I have known her for so long that I understand what she wants or intends before she articulates it.”

Female camaraderie

Speaking of Stephy, the conversation veers towards the importance of female friendships, in real life and on reel, and those bonds resulting in creative collaborations and how women bolster each other. The narrative that female actors are competitors has to change, she adds.  Representation of female friendships onscreen is as vital. “Female friendships are not explored as much as they should be, unlike the friendship of the heroes.” It was one of the reasons why she chose Kolla.

The sisterhood she speaks of includes women involved in all aspects of filmmaking and not just actors. “We need a strong sense of sisterhood, the kind that makes us uplift each other. That women actors are competitors and that we cannot be friends is no longer true. It cannot exclude men; for any gender to come forward, the others have to come together.” 

She is happy that everything came together for MMM, and that it clicked with a choosy audience with access to various platforms for content post-2020. . 

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