I am now a smooth meanderer in life, career: Mamta Mohandas
Meet the versatile Mamta Mohandas, who in this interview with DT Next, discusses Maharaja, her fifth Tamil film in a career that has spanned over 18 years. She gets candid on her life, career, acting and even singing over a cup of coffee with us
CHENNAI: It’s around mid-day, when Mamta Mohandas greets us with a cheerful smile at her hotel room, in a black floral kurti and her brown shimmering eyes. There is a lot to catch up as we weren’t sure when her nomadic soul would bring her back to Chennai again. Having made her cinematic debut in 2005, Mamta has only starred in four Tamil films so far (Sivappathikaram, Guru En Aalu, Thadaiyara Thaaka and Enemy) with Vijay Sethupathi’s Maharaja being the fifth. “I believe that I have not delivered a super-hit yet in Tamil. But I was still approached to play the lead role in Maharaja, which is Sethu sir’s 50th film, which is a huge thing,” says Mamta.
The Vijay Sethupathi fangirl in her immediately peeks out and there is an excitement in her tone. “Fan is the least I could say. I am his ardent admirer. Even as I met him five years ago, at an award function, he was a different person altogether. He was nothing like we see him on social media or in the pictures or his previous films. He was in the character, which is an attractive quality and we fall in love with that person all over again,” she tells us.
Mamta tells us this is what sets him apart from other actors and gets profusely honest about being an actor and as the audience. “It is difficult because what we perform as an actor and what we consume as an audience, ‘largely’ doesn’t give us enough inspiration to work in this industry—at least for me,” says the actor. We tell her that she is being blatantly honest and we wish to see her in Tamil cinema more often, Mamta laughs and says, “I should be. What is the point of living without being honest and I have never believed in hero worship and larger-than-life characters. There is one actor in each generation, who moves away from doing typecast roles. What Kamal sir has been doing is phenomenal and now we have Sethu sir,” adds the actor-singer.
She attributes her choice of signing and consuming films to the way she was raised by her parents in Manama, Bahrain. “I was introduced to Tamil films much later in my life. In Bahrain, we had the chance to watch one Hindi film a week that was telecast. It was aired with parental guidance and other strict censorship. My first Tamil film was Alaipayuthey, when I was 12. Then followed music in the form of Roja and Bombay through cassettes and listened to it in Walkman. For me, AR Rahman sir was the window to Indian cinema,” reminisces Mamta.
Having worked across industries in the earlier stages of her career, Mamta admits that she happened to see a lot even before she could realise what was happening. “Life threw so much on me when I was young. In the initial stages, I agreed to do films because I wanted to be there and have fun. When I started getting serious about my work, I faced hurdles. Now, I am here knowing what I want and how to go about it. I am a smooth meanderer now in life and career. Probably, I learnt a lot when I moved to Los Angeles— not only cinema, but also life. Having said that, I hope to be seen in Tamil more frequently,” says the actor. Mamta is as good a singer as she is in front of the camera. “Oh yes. I should talk to Devi (Devi Sri Prasad) on what he has for me,” she smiles.
As we end the conversation, we ask that she should have definitely been more than five films old in Tamil and the number of scripts she has refused to take up in all these years. “I should have done Thangar Bachan’s Karumegangal Kalaigindrana. Such a wonderful script and I couldn’t take it up because I had to travel to LA on the same dates that he had asked for last December. He was very understanding. I hope to be a part of such films in future,” she remarks and reassures that she will be seen in Chennai and Tamil cinema often. “Where else would you get good food if not here. Having travelled all over, I feel like I am now on a sightseeing spree across India when I go for shoots,” signs off Mamta.