Kalabhavan Mani is a special individual in Kerala social scene. From a mimicry artist to a hero of a different kind, Mani with his folksongs spread all over through audiocassettes satisfies a great chunk of Malayalam film audience. He is identified as a highly successful actor minus the conventional glamour that is prevalent in film field. He disproved the conception that to be a hero, one needs to be attractive, handsome and must have a presentable face. He is identified as a popular actor. His Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum, and the most recent film Karumaadikkuttan in which he appeared as a mentally retarded person ran for weeks in fully packed houses. Here we have Kalabhavan Mani in a short interview:
You have completed nearly 100 pictures. How do you feel?
Great and happy.
He records his gratitude to the first four who really introduced him to the field.
I owe my gratitude to director Ambili who has given me the first chance in his Samudaayam, Sallapam and made me really an artist known among people. I owe it to Mr Lohithadas, Mr Sunder das and Producer Mr Unni.
He is modest to a request made by the interviewer to evaluate himself as an actor
I am not mature enough. Quite often I feel I am not taking acting seriously.
The actor in you is highly becoming successful. How far you have distanced yourself away from a mimicry artist?
Practically nil. I am still the old mimicry artist. I don’t have the pretensions of a matinee man. I have my humble life. I have my acting as a profession. And the old mimicry is still with me.
. What kinds of roles do you like most?
Comedy roles, of course!
But you did a couple of villain roles in ‘Vallyettan’ and ‘Saphalyam’, which were excellent! Didn’t you?
Yes, that were so, I was told by many. It was Mr Ranjith the scriptwriter who recommended me to the villain role in Vallyettan. And it was the performance in that film which fetched me a character in the Tamil film ‘Vanchinathan’ directed by Shaaji Kailas.
Which of the roles did you like most?
Those ones in Sallapam, Udyanapalakan, Dilliwala Rajakumaran.
Not those in Vasanthiyum…, and Karumadikkuttan
Definitely. The other ones are small roles that made me what I am now. I am emotionally attached to them. In fact I price those tiny roles most.
Does that mean that you don’t prefer Hero roles?
It means that I will do them only when I get really good characters and good stories. I know my limitations well. My person, my voice and all that will not suit me when it comes to acting in an executive’s role. I am aware of it.
Who is a good actor by your standards?
A lot of factors constitute a good actor.
Can you name one such actor in Malayalam?
We are lucky. Nearly everyone is good.
So there are some who are not--? Right?
Yes, for example me. I am not a perfect actor.