December 29, 2012 Y. Sunitha Chowdhary
It always helps to have a dancer as an actor, they bring grace to their performances and use their body to express the emotions to the maximum extent possible. At 16, Lakshmi Menon marks her debut through a dubbed version in Telugu. She brings a lot of innocence, talent and a refreshing candour to the screen through Gajaraju and in a small chat, the 16 year old artiste appears extremely confident and unaffected by the buzz surrounding Prabhu Solomon directed Kumki.
She says, "This is my debut film in Telugu but not in Tamil. I did a second film Sundarapandian that released first. All of us in the family are into art, my mom is a dance teacher, dad Ramakrishnan is an artiste in Dubai, grandma is a retired music teacher. So it is not surprising that I got into movies.
It was Malayalam director Vinayan who saw my Bharatanatyam recital, which was telecast and cast me in his film Raghuvinte Swantham Rasiya. That was followed by a Malayalam movie titled Ideal Couple, directed by Ali Akbar. Prabhu Solomon saw my cover photo in a magazine and roped me in for Kumki. Watching my performance in Kumki, director Prabhakaran offered me the lead role in Sundarapandian opposite Sasikumar which released first."
She adds that her first film is still going strong, having completed 85 days and the trailer now of Gajaraju turned out to be a big hit in Youtube and attributes the craze for Sivaji Ganesan's grandson Vikram Prabhu's debut. Right now she is preparing for the 10th standard exams and gives all the credit to her friends and classmates who are more than cooperative.
"My friends are my biggest support system. But for them I wouldn't have been enjoying my pet passion and completing it without any worries. They write all my notes and when my film is wrapped up I am able to concentrate on my studies systematically."
She describes director Prabhu Solomon as someone who doesn't go to shoot with meticulous preparation and overnight plan, he is spontaneous and extracts work from the artistes. He is a very tough and a strict person to work with. I am not going to accept any fresh offers till my 10th exams in February finish. My focus right now is only studies."
Lakshmi Menon winds up the chat not without mentioning the beautiful greenery and waterfalls she had worked amidst. She remarks, "I've been to the waterfalls and such places for the first time and found myself climbing elephants. It was very tough but I loved it. We shot for 80 days in the forests and it was very adventurous.
I am not an elephant lover at all, I don't go near that animal at all, am very scared but since I had committed myself to the film I had to complete it. We will be missing Manikyam (the elephant's name in the film), infact the day we were to return home, we all started crying. He became a part of the family. He is in Kerala right now, after the film releases I will go and meet Manikyam. The music is the highlight and all my friends from Kerala have been asking me who's written and who sang the songs, it's so good.