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{mosimage}3 years old career, 19 movies, millions of fans but a fondful remeberance even after so many years ever since she quit, - this just summarises the immortality of Manju Warrier. The very mention of name itself lits up the malayalam movie goers across the world. Very few are blessed by the God to be respected and loved by the fans as if the artiste is their home member and Manju happens to be one among them. Manju Warrier is still a demi goddess when it comes to the Malayalam cinema, even though she never appeared on screen or even on TV after her self imposed retirement. Reams of papers had been written, millions of hearts stolen, yet nobody complained.

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Infact I was attracted to Malayalam movies solely because of her charismatic presence. The first time I saw Manju was on the song "Varamanjnaladiya.." from Pranayavarnangal, while channel surfing. Never in my dreams I expected that my movie preference is going to take a great shift from that moment. I started seeing Asianet for that song, and slowly I got hooked to the malayalam cinema seriously. I had seen almost all of her movies except a very few. Manju is unarguably the finest ever appeared on Malayalam cinema. If it was not Manju I still would have been thinking that Malayalam film industry is an art film industry, I would have missed those beautiful movies straight out of life, and mostly the mallu beauties... ha! ha! ha!

{mosimage}Manju Warrier, born on 1st Nov, 1978, hailing from Nagercoil was inclined towards arts and bagged the prestigous "Kalathilakam" title, a state level youth festival in Kerala for two consecutive years. Seeing her photographs in the magazines, famous scriptwriter Lohitadas (same man who discovered Meera Jasmine years later), launched her in "Sallapam" along with Dileep, who went to become her real life husband later. Then there was no looking back for this cute actress, until she called it quits. Before that she had done a bit role in "Sakshyam". Producer "Kireedom" Unni raves that she was promising in that role, but Manju differs that they had another girl as standby through out the shoot.

{mosimage}Manju is probably the only most unanimously loved heroine in Malayalam cinema. She had fans from all quarters. Ladies loved her as their daughters, young girls as their friend and for the guys - the girl whom they wanted to take her to their mom. Not from only audiences, she was a hot favourite among the scriptwriters and directors also. Scripts were written revolving her as a strong protagonists. Just by the time she had finished her dozen movies, she had achieved the rare feat of being listed in the veterans league. And Manju is a good singer too. She had released an album on "Onapaattukkal" and "Chembzhukka.." in her last release "Kannezhuthi Pottum thottu.."

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{mosimage}Manju's pluspoint was her powerful screen presence. No matter how big the star was with her in the frame, she simply overshadows them with her strong personality. She doesn't need a strong character or a large canvas to back her up. She simply excelled in all the roles she got to perform. At times she just loomed larger than the movies. Most of her movies were blockbusters barring a very few, e.g Innalukalliladhe, Thirakalkappuram, Daya & Kudamattom. Even in those movies, she had fantastic roles to rave about. In "Daya", which was based on few stories of Arabian nights, she had this role of slave disguised as a man to escape from the clutches of her master, who then rises to the minister of the country.

She was not the first choice for Sibi Malayl's "Kaliveedu" but stepped in as a last minute replacement for Shobana. "Kaliveedu" showcased the magnetic spark of Manju Warrier and Sibi Malayil went on to repeat her in a semi negative role in "Thooval Kottaram" and a tom boy in "Summer In Bethlehem". She got Kamal to get the best of her in "Ee Puzhayum Kadannu" & "Krishnagudiyil oru Pranayakalathu" and Jayaraj casted her as Thamara in his adaptation of Shakespere's "Othello". Manju's talent inspired the top directors to write scripts of strong female protagonists, revolving around her. In her mentor Lohitadas's "Kanmadam", she had an equally strong part as of Mohanlal. She also acknowledges that actor Jayaram has a strong part in initial success of her as he promoted her when she was a newcomer.

The Kerala's yellow press which hounds every successful heroine didn't spare Manju. It was reported that she had eloped with a producer's son during the making of "Sallapam", there were some other unmentionable stories about her also, but strong patronage from the audiences made her evolve unscathed as a rememberable personality. Manju never seemed to take these things seriously - either it be offending gossips or the aura of fame. I had read her interviews, which she had given at the zenith of her career, that she always knew that fame is temporary and she can live simple without it after her marriage.

{mosimage}Also Manju was very particular about doing movies only in Malayalam. She was the first choice for Maniratnam's "Alaipayuthey" but she nixed it due to date hassles. Manju strongly regrets for not being able to do that movie (which Maniratnam made after an year of her marriage). "For God’s sake, I didn’t have a choice. I am no idiot to turn down a Mani Ratnam film on a mere whim". Also offers from Tamil started pouring in, "Iniyavale..", "Sollamale.." and the Rajeev Menon's magnum opus "Kandukondein Kandukondein", the role that later went to Aishwarya Rai. "I needed someone with a magnetic personality, so I approached Manju Warrier, but she was uncomfortable with the Tamil set up. Later I realised that she was about to settle down in a marriage bliss" regretted Rajeev. However she consented to do only one Tamil movie which was directed by Malayalam director Shaji Kailas, that eventually got shelved.

Devika Shekar, an innocent girl turning brave newpaper baron to keep her father's legacy alive in "Pathram" was the right good-bye role for Manju. Even though she was talented and dynamic, the National Award eluded her. A special mention award was given to her for her last release - "Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu.." in which she played the bold role of young girl seducing the killer of her parents. Some more elusions... She also hadn't worked with Mamooty. She was supposed to do Shaji Kailash's "Vallyettan" opposite to Mamooty, but due to her sudden marriage, she had to opt out of it. Another veteran whom she missed to work was - Sathyan Anthikaud. Manju was supposed to do his "Veendum Chila Veettu Karyangal.." but her sudden marriage thwarted it. But "VCVK" was memorable because it introduced another talented actress - Samyukta Varma, to the Malayalam cinema.

{mosimage}At the peak of her career, Manju eloped with upcoming actor Dileep on October 20th, 1998 and got married at Krishna Temple, Aluva. She immediately announced that she is quitting from movies. Even today most of the fans are not ready to forgive Dileep as they believe that he had "snatched" their Manju from them. It took years for the fans to come to reality terms that she is happy and the same fans started patronising Dileep, who became a super star after their marriage. A strange coincidence is that in all the movies, she had done with her husband Dileep, she was never united with him onscreen. In "Sallapam" she realises that Manoj K Jayan's love is true and chooses him. In "Thooval Kottaram", she and Dileep had no relationship. In "Ee Puzhayum Kadannu", she was waiting for Dileep to return from the jail, and a similiar ending in "Kudamattom".

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{mosimage}Today Manju is a happy housewife and a blessed mother of two kids, a baby girl Meenakshi & a baby boy recently, Manju stays away from the limelight by avoiding even the functions in the cinema industry barring rare public appearance. The promotional interview for "Pathram" was the last time I saw her on TV. However her fans are awaiting with a deep breath for her comeback. The slot vacated by Manju is still vacant as nobody (except to a certain extent by Meera Jasmine) is there to do those powerful female protagonist roles. Also she was the last female super star of Malayalam cinema, who carried the movie on her shoulders. If you see "Summer In Bethlehem" you'll understand what I mean. She made all the heroes in the movie - Jayaram, Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal, pale in comparision.

Just like millions of malayalee fans, I too miss Manju badly. A funny incident - I came to know about her marriage from a Tamil daily on October 22nd, 1998. That day happened to be my Thermal Engg. exam and just before the exam I read the news in canteen while having tea, and shocked to hear that she won't act anymore. I still don't remember how I reached the exam hall and regained myself only after I received the question paper from the invigilator. Like other fans, I too hated even the glimpse of Dileep for a long time. I wish that Manju returns to screen once her kids doesn't need much of her attention, say start going to school. Just the way Kajol did with "Fanaa", Manju please comeback, we are there with a red carpet for you...

Filmography:-

19. Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu (1999) - As a young girl who has come to the village with a reason - take revenge of the killer of her parents. Her last release.
18. Pathram (1999) .... Devika Shekhar - As a young girl who takes up her father's seat as Newspaper baron, and fights till her last to expose the corruption in Politics.
17. Daya (1998) - As a Arabian slave who disguises as a man, who by sheer knowledge & talent, eventually rises to the higher post of a Minister to the country.
16. Kanmadam (1998) .... Bhanu - As a poor but strong willed girl who lives for her family, awaiting for her brother's return, instead a shocking news of his death comes.
15. Pranaya Varnankal (1998) - As a introvert girl who lives in her dreams and shattered to find the reality of her love.
14. Summer in Bethlahem (1998) .... Abhirami - As a tomboy who has a dark secret to hide from the family who raised her. Later remade in Tamil as "Lesa Lesa"
13. Thirakalkkappuram (1998) - No idea except she is a fisherwoman.
12. Kaliyattam (1997) .... Thamara/Desdemona - Malayalam version of Othello's Dedemona.
11. Aaram Thamburan (1997) - As a daughter of the old "thamburaan" who stands and wins the actual "thamburaan" Mohanlal.
10. Innalekalillathe (1997) - As a rich young girl who fights for marriage with a poor lover, and towards the end shocked to find out the real colour of him.
9. Irattakuttikalude Achan (1997) - As young mother who fights for her estranged twin child and takes a daring decision on discovering the foster parents.
8. Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu (1997) .... Meenakshi - As a young girl torn between duty and love, asking for six months to accept / reject her lover's proposal.
7. Kudamattom (1997) - No idea.
6. Dilliwala Rajakumaran (1996) .... Maya - No idea except she was a young princess of a "Tharavaadu"
5. Ee Puzhayum Kadannu (1996) - A responsible & youngest sister of three, stuggling along with her lover, to get her elder sister's married.
4. Kaliveedu (1996) - A funny and meaningful insight of a marriage life between a disciplined husband and a playful young girl.
3. Sallapam (1996) .... Radha - As a poor girl Radha, who is in love with Dileep but due to circumstances realises the real love, his "mura paiyan" Manoj has for her.
2. Thooval Kottaram (1996) - As a rich, spoilt and pampered kid who is possessive about Jayaram, messing his love life with Sukhanya.
1. Sakshyam (1995) - No idea.

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About myself
Maheshwaran
Author: MaheshwaranWebsite: https://www.maheshwaran.com
I am a SAP Consultant in my late 30s, residing in the happeing IT City - Bangalore. My interests vary from reading to travelling to handicrafts to photography. My latest interest is on Body building. May be this vivid interest keeps me going in my life without getting bored.

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