What Irulars taught ‘Jai Bhim’ actor: One doesn’t need anything to be happy


Actor Manikandan, who plays Rajakannu, one of the pivotal characters in the critically acclaimed ‘Jai Bhim’, says that the biggest lesson he learnt while working on the film was that one does not need anything to be happy other than just the willingness to be cheerful.

Manikandan, who plays the role of an Irular tribesman in the film, underwent a training session for 40 days during which period he stayed with the Irulars in their village to learn their mannerisms and lifestyle.

Talking to IANS, Manikandan says, “We were able to understand how self-reliant these people were. Staying with them, I acquired quite a few lifeskills. Their lifestyle had a great impact on me. I realised that they did not need anything to be happy. I learnt that one can be happy if one chooses to. They did not have anything but they were immensely happy.”

The actor, whose performance in the film has come in for widespread praise, says that wearing make up for his role was a tedious process but the make up artistes made it comfortable for him.

“Everyday, it would take two hours just to put our make up. Especially, for me, it would take time to create the wounds that you see in the film. To remove it, it would take another two hours. The make up artistes made this process so comfortable for us,” says Mani, who goes on to give details of how he learnt to hunt for the sake of the film.

“Hunting was a very exciting process. The very first thing that they did as soon as we set foot in their village was that they took us hunting. They would walk for miles and through the night, until early dawn. We didn’t have that kind of stamina,” says Mani, who discloses that the hunting party would walk for scores of miles at a stretch.

“If they begin walking by six in the evening, they would walk until 6 the next morning during a hunt. In fact, they would walk from Gingee to Kancheepuram during a hunt,” says Mani.

“They taught us everything from how to capture rats, rabbits, wild boar to how to cast nets and set traps,” he adds.

To stress on how self-sufficient the Irulars are, Manikandan recalls a conversation he had with one of the Irular boys during a hunt.

Says the actor, “One of the boys whom I accompanied on a hunt asked me once, ‘Will you be able to survive, if you got lost in this forest?’ I replied, ‘No.’ He turned back, looked at me and said, ‘I can’.”