I can handle COVID-19 symptoms, what’s tough though is being unable to hug my daughter Vidya: Lakshmi Manchu


Lakshmi Manchu’s had a busy few months in November, she was in Kerala spending time learning kalaripayattu and shooting for her Malayalam debut, Monster; in December she was in London and she even brought in the New Year with great optimism.
However, barely a week into 2022 and COVID struck. “Despite all the precautions, it was my time this time to meet with the dreaded virus. But I’m determined to get through this too,” she says, as she speaks to us about life in isolation, working with Mohanlal, her upcoming projects and more. Excerpts.
You’ve been in self-isolation for nearly a week. How are you feeling right now?
I think you can’t have too many feelings when it comes to COVID because the symptoms last longer than the virus. I am bracing myself for whatever is to come the next couple of months and feeling secure in the knowledge that I am in the best of care. I’ve also been double vaccinated so I’m confident that nothing severe will happen to me. I’m in a good space mentally as well.
Isolating from your daughter Vidya Nirvana must be hard…
Oh, it’s incredibly hard! I can handle body pains, what I can’t handle is being unable to hug Apple (her daughter Vidya Nirvana) and my pups Lola and Nawab. That’s been really tough. But I wish I had my daughter’s positive view on things because I seem to need more of a pep talk than she does. When I told her I tested positive she assured me I’ll be fine and asked me to rest up. That’s just what I’m doing right now. You were recently in Kerala, learning kalaripayattu and shooting for your Malayalam debut Monster, it’s not often that actresses get a chance to pull off action sequences...
I did not learn kalaripayattu just for the film. I did it because I was in Kerala and had access to the best in this field. I can’t do that in Hyderabad. I’m already well-versed with kick-boxing so I’ve always been excited to learn something that originated in India. A trainer from Guruvayur taught me the craft. It’s the perfect mix of martial arts, dance and spirituality. It made me use my whole body when I pulled off those animal postures. I loved kalari so much that in a few years I might consider sending Apple there to get trained too.
What was it like to shoot with Mohanlal?
He is extremely laidback. The kind of drama I see from stars in Tollywood is the exact opposite. I grew up watching his films and he’s the reason I said yes to Monster. To be on set with the legend himself feels like I’m back in school. I really believe he’s God’s own child he’s well-read and can talk about anything. He sings, writes, does calligraphy, takes photographs, paints he can do it all.
You were trolled for learning a new martial art form and taking on a film like Monster at this age. How did you deal with that?
At this point, I feel ignorance is bliss and imitation is the best form of flattery. If someone is making money out of making fun of me, good for them. I am human, I read all the messages I get, it does affect me. Out of the hundred good comments, that one bad one pinches. Forget others, the other day I was putting myself down for the smallest things but I took deep breaths and wondered why I was doing that. I then looked back at where I started, as an extra in Hollywood, and realised how far I’ve come. I’m never going to be this age tomorrow, so I want to do it all now.

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