ലോകമെമ്പാടുമുള്ള മലയാളികള്ക്ക് എന്റെ ഹൃദയംഗമമായ കേരളപ്പിറവി ആശംസകള്!!!
Last week, on the 24th which was Vijayadasami day was an anxiously awaited one at Karthi. For a week I had been looking forward to the evening to see a beloved artiste who we had gjven up as retired for good make a second debut in the presence of the mischievous and ever benevolent Lord of Guruvayoor. Yes, I am talking about none other than the birthday girl Manju Warrier! I had been an ardent fan of her dance since she was a regular participant in the state youth festivals. As I watched her mesmerize the audience once again with her performance on stage at the Melpathoor auditorium last Wednesday, I couldn't but applaud, I was so happy!!!
(Pic Courtesy Gruhalakshmi Nov 2012 issue)
I was not a fan of Manju in her heyday mainly because I was not a regular moviegoer at the time. My father hated taking his precious daughters into the pushing and shoving melee that surrounded the movie theatres at the time and often recommended that we go to movies after our marriage - thankfully that has happened now!!! The only movie of Manju that I have seen on the big screen is Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu - a movie that was too dark for my taste. So it was not until the age of movie reruns on plentiful Malayalam channels that I could watch Manju's movies and appreciate the consummate talent and hard work she brought into each of her roles.
What is the mystery of Manju's fan following that has survived all 14 years of inactivity? Her prodigious talent apart, I think it is the authenticity and life she imparted to the ordinary characters in her movies - the fun-loving, slightly naughty, capable of intense jealousy but good at heart girl that boys would love to love and girls would hunger to be. Her typical Malayali looks and hair didn't hurt although her facial features are far from perfect. In fact, I think the imperfections are what really make her accessible and loved by all.
So it was with a lot of trepidation and anxious anticipation that I sat down in front of the TV to watch Manju's second debut. My fears were happily proven groundless. The goddess of dance has returned to the stage. I don't know if she will venture into movies and if she does, what will await her there. But I am certainly happy that she has returned to the stage on her own terms and have proved that her talents are untarnished by the passage of time. After sixteen years of hectic schooling, dance programs and 20 movies crammed into 4 years, she certainly deserved to lead a leisurely life being just a wife and a mom. We can't even guess the life she must have led with constant dance practice starting from kindergarten years, programs and rehearsals that segued into a hectic movie career without even the gap to enjoy a college life etc.
Dear Manju, happy birthday and welcome back! You are a huge inspiration to all moms who have shelved their artistic aspirations for the sake of family. It doesn't matter if you choose to concentrate on classical dance. But if you do choose to act in movies, I will be one of the thousands in queue for a ticket of the very first show of every movie that you do!!!!