Manju Warrier talks to Gulf News about her film Aami at the Roxy Cinema in City Walk, Dubai. Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Dubai: Manju Warrier, one of Kerala’s most beloved actors, described her latest role in the Malayalam biopic Aami, which chronicles the life of the late controversial literary figure Kamala Suraiyya, as an "actor’s dream role". 

The actress, 38, was in Dubai to showcase her movie at the Roxy Cinemas at the City Walk on Wednesday night. 

“The response we have received for this movie has been far above my expectations. Yes, the reviews are mixed but I believe that everyone has a right to have their own opinions and harbour their own perception of a person who has lived till very recently,” said Warrier in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!

Warrier was openly praised for her performance by the celebrated avant-garde director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, but the reviews were mixed in Kerala.

Kamala Suraiyya, known by her pen name Madhavikutty and Kamala Das, was an uninhibited author and poet who died in 2009. She remains one of the most complex, checkered and coloured icons that Kerala has ever produced. Her ideas of self were progressive and her unfettered thoughts on her own sexuality were legendary. She was a cult figure among the cerebral circles.

So how did Warrier prepare for such a challenging role? The award-winning actress claims she placed the onus of understanding the nuances to her complex role and bringing the character to life to director Kamal and his vision.

“My mind was like a blank slate,” said Warrier. The title role (Kamala Das referred to herself as Aami too) was initially offered to Bollywood actor Vidya Balan, who reportedly backed out of the project at the last minute. 

Accompanying Warrier in Dubai for the UAE premiere was her co-star from Aami, Murali Gopy, who is another firebrand actor who radicalised Malayalam cinema with his interesting choices in films. The Left Right Left actor plays the on-screen husband of Warrier, Madhava Das, in Aami.

While their performances have been hailed by critics in Kerala, a universal opinion remains that the film is a sanitised version of Das’ life. It’s only natural, claims Gopy, as they live in a society that is easily offended.

“We are in a society that celebrates repression so there’s bound to be sanitation … Cinema is still under emergency in India,” said Gopy, alluding to the limitations faced by filmmakers while tackling bold topics and their urge to self-censor.

Read the full interviews with Warrier and Gopy in tabloid! soon.