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Manju Warrier
Manju Warrier in KLF 2018.jpg
Warrier in 2018
Born 10 September 1978 (1978-09-10) (age 42)
Alma mater S. N. College, Kannur, Kannur University
Occupation
  • Film actress
  • classical dancer
  • singer
Years active 1995–1999
2014–present
Spouse(s)
Dileep
(m. 1998; div. 2015)
Children 1
Relatives Madhu Warrier (brother)
Awards
  • Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Malayalam
  • National Film Award
  • Kerala State Film Award
  • Filmfare Awards South

Manju Warrier (pronounced: Manju Vāryar; born 10 September 1978) is an Indian film actress, producer, singer and dancer who primarily appears in Malayalam language films. She is one of the most successful leading actresses in Malayalam cinema, and has been referred to as the lady superstar of South India.

She made her acting debut in Sakshyam (1995) at the age of 17. Her most well-known films are: Thooval Kottaram (1996), Sallapam (1996), Ee Puzhayum Kadannu (1996), Aaraam Thampuran (1997), Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu (1997), Pranayavarnangal (1998), Kanmadam (1998), Summer in Bethlehem (1998), Pathram (1999), Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu (1999), How Old Are You? (2014), Ennum Eppozhum (2014), C/O Saira Banu (2017), Udaharanam Sujatha (2017), Aami (2018), Odiyan (2018), Lucifer (2019), Asuran (2019) and Prathi Poovankozhi (2019). Warrier won the National Film Award – Special Mention for her performance as Bhadra in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. She also won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance as Anjali in Ee Puzhayum Kadannu, along with six Filmfare Awards for Best Actress, a record in that category.

Warrier married actor Dileep in 1998 and stopped acting. Since their divorce in 2014, she returned to cinema with the critically and commercially successful film How Old Are You?, which won her many accolades, notably her record setting fifth Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Malayalam. She has won several other awards, including a National Film Award, a Kerala State Film Award and seven Filmfare Awards South.

Early life

Manju Warrier was born on 10 September 1978 in Nagercoil, Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. Her father, T. V. Madhavan, worked as an accountant at Shakthi Finance's Nagercoil regional office and her mother was a house wife. She has an elder brother, Madhu Warrier, who is also an actor and producer. She did her primary schooling at CSI Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Nagercoil. After her father was promoted, they returned to Kerala and settled in Kannur. She studied at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kannur and later at Chovva Higher Secondary School. She later graduated with a degree from Sree Narayana College, Kannur through distance learning.

Career

Early films (1995–1999)

Warrier was a trained dancer since her school days, and won many awards. She was conferred with the Kalathilakam in the Kerala Youth Festival for two years. She first appeared in a television serial Moharavam which was telecast on Doordarshan.

In the first half of her on-screen career, Manju featured in 20 films over a three-year period with prominent directors producing a number of performances that earned her equal billing with some of the male leading actors in Malayalam.

At the age of 17, she debuted in the film Sakshyam (1995). Later at the age of 18, she acted in the movie Sallapam (1996), co-starring Dileep, whom she later married. Her performance in the movie Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu won a special mention from the jury for the National Film Awards. Her other films include: Kanmadam and Aaraam Thampuran with Mohanlal, Ee Puzhayum Kadannu and Kudamattam with her now ex-husband Dileep, Summer in Bethlahem, Pranayavarnangal, Pathram and Kaliyattam with Suresh Gopi, and Irattakuttikalude Achan, Kaliveedu, Thooval Kottaram and Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu with Jayaram. She won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie Ee Puzhayum Kadannu. The film won three Kerala State Film Awards. In Kanmadam, she portrayed the role of a high-tempered blacksmith named Bhanu, which also starred Mohanlal. In her film Daya, Warrier's character is disguised as a man. Her role as the strong-willed Devika in Pathram was popular with audiences. It was the highest-grossing film of 1999 and played for over 250 days in theatres. Her last film before she took a sabbatical was Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. Her portrayal of Bhadra, who takes revenge against Natesan who killed her parents, is considered her best acting performance to date. She was nominated at the National Film Awards but lost to Shabana Azmi. She was awarded the Special Mention (acting) for her performance.

Professional return and comeback to the movies (2012-2014)

On 24 October 2012, she performed Kuchipudi in the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple. Later in July 2013, she acted in a commercial with Amitabh Bachchan. Her comeback announcement was greeted with much fanfare by fans and the media. She later appeared in many advertisements for Kalyan Jewellers alongside Amitabh Bacchan, Aishwarya Rai, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Prabhu Ganesan and Shiva Rajkumar. She recently published a book titled Sallapam.

She made her return to cinema with Rosshan Andrrews's How Old Are You in 2014. Warrier played the character of Nirupama Rajeev, a UD clerk in the Revenue Department. The film received positive reviews from critics and was well received by audiences and it became a blockbuster hit in the Kerala box office. She received numerous accolades and became the goodwill ambassador for many ventures related to organic farming, inspired by her film.

Further successes (2015-2019)

Her next film was Sathyan Anthikad's Ennum Eppozhum which reunites her with Mohanlal after a gap of 17 years. Her next project was Rani Padmini by Aashiq Abu along with Rima Kallingal, released in October 2015. The film did not fare well at the box office as it faced strong competition from other movies like Ennu Ninte Moideen and Amar Akbar Anthony. She acted in Jo and the Boy, her last release of 2015, as an animator. Her first full-length role in 2016 was Rajesh Pillai's Vettah, a mind-game thriller, in which she appeared in the role of a police officer. This film was a success, and she received numerous awards for the role.

She acted in a Sanskrit stage drama based on Abhijñānaśākuntalam. The play was presented by the Sopanam Institute of Performing Arts & Research, founded by the late Kavalam Narayana Panicker, and was hosted by Swaralaya. Warrier debuted as a producer as well and the play was produced under her banner, Manju Warrier Productions. Her next film was Karinkunnam 6S, in which she played the character of Vandana, a volleyball coach which was also a hit movie. She also sang a song for cancer patients for the show she hosted Kerala Can (Manorama News), written by Ratheesh Vega.

Her first release in 2017 was C/O Saira Banu where she played a post woman. The film also marked the comeback of Amala Akkineni in Malayalam after more than two decades. Her performance won great critical acclaim and the movie was a moderate grosser. On 28 September, her next film Udaharanam Sujatha released in Kerala. It received positive reviews from critics and a warm response audiences. She received great praise for her portrayal of Sujatha, mother of a tenth class student and a person who does multiple jobs to ensure a good life for her daughter and it was superhit in boxoffice . Her next release in 2017 was Villain, an emotional thriller where she appears as Dr. Neelima, an independent, idealistic woman and wife of Mathew Manjooran played by Mohanlal. The film went on to set the record for the highest first day collections for a Malayalam film. It received mixed response from critics and a positive feedback from the audience. Directors N. Lingusamy, Mysskin, Pandiraj, Thiru, and Suseenthiran were all positive about the film, particularly praising the actors' performances and the production. Soumya Rajendran wrote in her review for The News Minute - "It's lovely to see Manju Warrier and Mohanlal romancing on screen. The couple shares a palpable chemistry and the best scenes in the film undoubtedly belong to their shared moments. Although a brief role, Manju lights up the screen and the relationship between them comes across as genuine even though neither character is defined beyond a few broad strokes."

In 2018, Manju appeared in the lead role in the Kamala Surayya biopic Aami. Manjusha Radhakrishnan of Gulf News wrote in her review - "Warrier enters the frame much later, but seamlessly takes on the role of a woman on the cusp of a quarter-life crisis. The actress is in total command here. Surayya isn't an easy woman to play, but Warrier make her eccentricities alluring and charming." Manoj Kumar R of The Indian Express complimented Manju delivered a 'knockout performance' - "It is, indeed, impressive to watch Manju Warrier play the role of a conflicted woman. Her conviction in the performance is what keeps our attention even when narration loses steam." Her next film for release was the musical-romantic-comedy drama Mohanlal in which she played a die-hard fan of Mohanlal. Jan Varghese wrote in her review for BookMyShow - "Manju Warrier gives one of her better performances to date as Meenukutty. She carries the movie firmly on her shoulders with her almost flawless performance." Her next release was the much-hyped fantasy drama Odiyan, in which she appeared alongside Mohanlal and Prakash Raj sporting different looks throughout the movie. In her review for Firstpost, Anna M. M. Vetticad said, "Warrier is uniformly good as the lonesome, long-suffering Prabha who has always known that her fate was written the moment she was born into a particular social class and often summons up the spirit to defy that written word." Odiyan earned the highest opening-day collection for a film at Kerala box office and for a Malayalam film at worldwide box office. Odiyan also registered the highest opening weekend (14–16 December) collection for a Malayalam film at domestic and worldwide box office.

Her first release in 2019 was Lucifer directed by Prithviraj Sukumaran in his directorial debut, written by Murali Gopy and featuring Mohanlal in the lead role as Stephen Nedumpally, alongside a supporting cast including Prithviraj Sukumaran himself, Vivek Oberoi, Tovino Thomas and Indrajith Sukumaran. Her performance in the film was considered to be the strongest in recent times with both critics and audiences showering praises. Complimenting her, Soumya Rajendran wrote in her review, "Manju Warrier is blessed with an extremely expressive face, and when she's upset, you can actually see her nostrils quiver. There's one scene when her face collapses as she hears Bobby's (Vivek Oberoi's) response to a question she poses, and you can see just what an actor can bring to the table when she knows her job." Manjusha Radhakrishnan said in her review for Gulf News - "To watch top Malayali talent Manju Warrier as a grieving daughter of a political leader, who dies suddenly, leaving a political vacuum in her family and her political outfit, is pure gold. Warrier as a troubled mother and wife Priyadarshani – who unearths a string of dark secrets within her family circles – is heartbreaking. In limited screen-time, she comes across as a paragon of vulnerability and strength – an indication to the strength of her acting prowess."

She is one of the founding members of Women in Cinema Collective, the organisation for the welfare of women workers in the Malayalam movie industry and she was the only female actor in kerala having fans association and wellwishers in International level known as Manju Warrier Fans and Welfare Association International. She made her Tamil debut with Asuran.

Personal life

Dileep manju
Manju with Dileep attending a function.

On 20 October 1998, Manju married actor Dileep at the Aluva Sri Krishna Temple. The couple have a daughter, Meenakshi. They filed for divorce in 2014 and it was granted in January 2015. Her autobiography Sallapam (Memories) was released in November 2014. Warrier lives in Thrissur, Kerala.

Filmography

Key
Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released.

Films

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Sakshyam Smitha
1996 Sallapam Radha
Thooval Kottaram Devaprabha Varma
Dilliwala Rajakumaran Maya
Kaliveedu Mridula
Ee Puzhayum Kadannu Anjali
1997 Innalekalillaathe Beena
Kudamattam Gowri
Irattakuttikalude Achan Anupama
Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu Meenakshi
Kaliyattam Thaamara
Sammanam Devi
Aaraam Thampuran Unnimaya
1998 Pranayavarnangal Aarathi
Daya Daya
Kanmadam Bhanumathi
Summer in Bethlehem Abhirami/Amy
Thirakalkkappuram Seetha
1999 Pathram Devika Shekhar
Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu Bhadra
2014 How Old Are You? Nirupama Rajeev
2015 Ennum Eppozhum Adv. Deepa Rajeev
Rani Padmini Padmini
Jo and the Boy Jo / Joan Mary John
2016 Girls N/A Voice-over
Paavada Babu's fiancée Cameo appearance
Vettah Police commissioner Sribala IPS
Karinkunnam 6'S Vandana Aby
2017 C/O Saira Banu Saira Banu
Udaharanam Sujatha Sujatha Krishnan
Villain Dr. Neelima Mathew
2018 Aami Kamala Surayya
Mohanlal Meenukutty
Odiyan Prabha
2019 Lucifer Priyadharshini Ramdas
Asuran Pachaiyammal Debut in Tamil Film
Prathi Poovankozhi Madhuri
2021 The Priest Susan
Chathur Mukham Thejaswini
Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simhamdagger Subaida Release on May 13
Jack and Jill Parvathi Release delayed due to COVID-19
Kayattam Premiered at Busan International Film Festival
Lalitham Sundaram Post Production
Padavettu Filming
Meri Awaaz Suno Filming

Television (Selected list)

Year Title Network Role Note
1997 Moharavam Doordarshan Actress Serial (Directed by David Kachippilly)
2016 Cuba Mukundan Flowers Host special show
2016 D 4 Dance Mazhavil Manorama Celebrity Judge reality show
2017 Chaya Koppayile Kodumkattu Mazhavil Manorama Guest Comedy show
2017 Kerala Can Manorama News Host Talk show (Cancer awareness)
2017 Lal Salam Amrita TV Unnimaya Promotion of Aaram Thampuran
2018 Thakarppan Comedy Mazhavil Manorama Celebrity judge Comedy show
2018 Comedy Utsavam Flowers Guest reality show
2018 Comedy Stars Asianet Guest reality show
2019 Top singer Flowers Celebrity Judge reality show
2019 Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Keralam Zee Keralam Guest reality show
2020 Kuttipattalam Surya TV Guest reality show
2020 Kutty Chef Kairali TV Guest reality show
2020 Super 4 Mazhavil Manorama Celebrity Judge reality show
2020 Ingane oru Bharyayum Bharthavum Flowers TV Judge reality show
2021 Udan Panam 3.O Mazhavil Manorama Contestant game show

Playback singing

Song Film/Album Year Co-Singers Lyrics Composer
"Govardhana Gireesham" Aaram Thampuran 1997 Solo song Muthuswami Dikshitar (traditional) Traditional, Raveendran (for the film)
"Vezhambal Mamazha" Chingapoovu (album) 1998 Mohanlal Bichu Thirumala Berny-Ignatius
"Pakal Kinakkal" Chingapoovu (album) 1998 Solo Bichu Thirumala Berny-Ignatius
"Chembazhukka" Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu 1999 Dr. K. J. Yesudas, Kalabhavan Mani Kavalam Narayana Panicker M. G. Radhakrishnan
"Do do do" Jo and the Boy 2015 Sanoop Santhosh Santhosh Varma Rahul Subramanian
"Swanthana Geetham" Kerala Can (show) Manorama News 2016 Chorus Harinarayanan Ratheesh Vega
"Kim Kim" Jack and Jill 2021 Solo

As a producer, Manju Warrier productions, produced three films. Kayattam, Lalitham Sundaram and Chathurmukham

In the media

Manju Warrier

In a question put up in the official Facebook page of Women in Cinema Collective, 'Who is the most influential female artiste in cinema?', Manju Warrier led the poll. She was featured on a list of women superstars in South Indian cinema by The News Minute and top South Indian actresses by InUth. Her characters appear on many lists featuring strong women characters in Indian Cinema.

Manju Warrier is also a professional Kuchipudi dancer, having learnt the art from Geetha Padmakumar. She actively performs in many classical dance programs and plays. Her return to stage at Guruvayoor as part of the Navaratri dance festival was received with much fanfare. Directors Ranjith and Sathyan Anthikkad graced the occasion. "I was expecting a few people, if at all; only those who would be at Guruvayoor that day. God made me very happy that day. I am grateful to him," she said to The Hindu.

Manju Warrier is also known for her initiatives towards various social causes. She gave the inaugural speech at the National Women's Talk Festival organised by Soorya in Thiruvananthapuram on 1 January 2018. "I don't see any reason to glorify my involvement in social issues. There are a lot of people who do a lot more for society outside the limelight. Since I am known to the public, even the smallest of my deeds are projected in a big way," she said. Apart from films, she also acts in television commercials and is a brand ambassador of Kalyan Jewellers, Sony India, Meriiboy Ice Cream, Dhathri, Kitchen Treasures, ALIFF Brand Ambassador - Cinema for Women, Samsung, and Ujala. She has also worked as a goodwill ambassador for public awareness projects for government and private organisations, such as She - Taxi, Kudumbasree's Organic Farming, Naipunnya development program, the Kerala State Electricity Board, Pink Patrolling, Horticorp (Kerala State Horticultural Products and Development Corporation), Malayala Manorama - Kerala Can-Cancer awareness mission.

Awards and nominations

See also: List of awards and nominations received by Manju Warrier

Manju is the recipient of several awards including one National Film Award, one Kerala State Film Award and seven Filmfare Awards South. She is the only Malayalam actress to win the Filmfare Awards South consecutively four times in a row (1996–99) and a record seven times overall.

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