Lakshmi Manchu on #MeToo movement in Telugu industry: “Every voice has been taken seriously”


As the daughter of veteran Mohan Babu, Lakshmi Manchu has had quite an impact in the Telugu industry and beyond of her own. Having played an important part to keep the #MeToo momentum in the industry ongoing, Manchu has been seen in a number of American series as well as undertaking important work in the sub-continent in NGOs.

The actress was recently in London and caught up with her.

You’ve recently been in London. Were you on holiday? If not, what brought you here?
Yes, I have been to London and I was there for a holiday with my daughter. It was her 5th birthday and I had promised her Lego Land and Peppa Pig farm which didn’t happen because of the rains but we did go to the Lego land. It also happened to be an India Vs Pakistan Match in the world cup series the next day so we decided to go there.

You are almost spearheading the the support group #MeToo movement in the Telugu industry. Do you think it’s shaken things up there specifically?
I do not wish to take the entire credit for the support group because it’s not just me but it was a collective of 6 of us who made it possible. All us putting in time and efforts for keeping this movement active resulted in the success of the same.

As you have a lineage in the industry, what do you feel someone of your stature brings to the #MeToo movement’s voice?
It definitely brings a louder speaker because of my family lineage but having said that even the women who came out and shared their stories of what happened to them during the #Metoo movement, every voice has been taken seriously. So I think the time has really come for a change because earlier everywhere we heard topics of abuse and nobody followed through but now there is a huge group of women in this industry to lent support as well.

What do you think is the biggest change you’ve seen since the wave started?
The biggest change that I see since the wave started is the usually were just talking about it here and there but no major step was taken against it. People are now being more active and they are making sure that the perpetrator is punished for their crime.

You have seen different parts of the cinema and TV industries both in India and abroad. What do you feel this journey has taught you?
The journey has thought that hustle is the same wherever you are. Everybody is wanting to do their best and tell their story. Since the time I have been here to the past 5 – years I have seen a lot of women in the industry. Earlier the crew used to be only men but now there are at least 8%-10% women in any shooting sets. This has thought me to encourage more women into this industry because they share the same passion as the men.

Throughout all the projects you’ve taken on and been involved in, what has been the one experience that’s stood out for you?
No matter how many films I do my first movie Anaganaga O Dheerudu where I played the Disney Evil queen will always be my special one. I have been really blessed to have worked with some incredible directors around the world but that is the movie which will always remain special to me.

What makes you most proud?
What makes me most proud is the work out NGO Teach for Change does where they are empowering kids in a literacy program in over 200 schools in South of India as we speak. We are retaining government school children to stay in school throughout the program. That’s what makes me most most proud!!

Can you reveal what you’re currently working on?
I am working on a couple of TV shows and a web series. Being a mommy keeps me super duper busy. So I have to prioritise the work that comes my way because I have to make sure that it is worth the time I am staying away from my daughter. thanks Lakshmi Manchu for taking the time to talk with us.

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