Mastering the Small Screen: Manimegalai

Meet Manimegalai, the chirpy and cute VJ who has been creating ripples in the television industry for almost a decade now.

Text: Namita Gupta

Location Courtesy: COURTYARD BY MARRIOT, Chennai

Hair&Make-up: VURVE SALON

Wardrobe & Accessories: THAT1TOO.COM

She’s bubbly and extremely endearing when she opens up to you. Television anchor and presenter Manimegalai, who made her debut in 2010, at the age of 18, on Sun Network shares her journey with RITZ Magazine on her live shows, reality shows, celebrity interviews, prime time programmes and life after marriage.

What proved to be the catalyst for you to zero in on VJing as a career choice? What was the turning point?

After finishing my school, I saw a scroll on television that read – If you want to become a VJ then send your details. I casually sent in my photographs and they called for the auditions and selected me immediately. My parents are from a conservative family in Coimbatore and were not comfortable with this. There were so many girls struggling to get in, but I got selected, so I couldn’t just let the opportunity pass. It took me a while to convince them. I promised them I would complete my studies for sure. Since this was initially a one-hour live show, I could manage to do both-studies as well as shows. I got instant fame and a lot of celebrity shows came my way. I did many shoots for Sun TV, Sun Music, Sun News etc. I have completed MBA in HR & Finance from SRM University and I managed both work and studies well, so my parents didn’t have a reason to complain.

Any challenges that came your way initially and some high points of your career so far?

I’m from a rich family, so everything at home was taken care of earlier before I tied the knot. I kept getting a lot of shows and I was getting good marks as well. After I got married, against the wishes of my parents, my husband and I have to juggle a lot of things at work and at home, since we didn’t have the support of our families. After marriage, my father didn’t want me to marry from another religion so they didn’t support me and we had to go for a registered marriage. Now I have to keep track of all the bills and daily expenditure, look after things that I never bothered about at my parent’s place. But, thankfully my husband and I share a great relationship. We like to share everything with each other and look at the brighter and lighter side of things. We are very happy together and are confident that we will become stronger. It’s almost a year and half and our parents have still not accepted us as a couple, but I’m sure that soon they will. I’ve done many memorable shoots in the last nine years in the industry that all my fans have loved.

Any one celebrity you connected on a personal level and went on to become good friends with?

While I was shooting with Kamal Haasan, everyone told me he’s short tempered, but our shots went well and he gave me a lot of encouragement and compliments. Working with actors like Vijay, Surya, Nakul, Karthi, Tamannaah, Anushka and others has also been fun. I have been in this field for about nine years now and I have done all kinds of shoots. Celebrity comedy actor Sathish is now a good friend and we keep in touch. He’s a very genuine person and we connect well. Comedy actor Vivek Sir is also very close to me. Also, Lakshmi is a sweetheart. Infact most of the artists we work with become close and many times we try to keep in touch.

How do you prep up before a show?

For me personally, if I prepare for a show beforehand, I get nervous. That’s why I like to go with the flow and never do any advance prep. I’m more of an impromptu kind of person and it works for me.

How tough is it to balance both family life and work?

There’s no real stress as such, but now I hrunning a household alongside my work. But I like to work hard. Currently my husband and I are shooting for the reality show Mr and Mrs Chinnathirai that is being aired on Star Vijay. I left Sun Network after eight years. I’m looking at doing some more shows and some anchoring too. On one of the episodes, I had said that everyone deserves to have a grand marriage, but unfortunately mine didn’t happen the way every bride dreams of. So the television channel decided to shoot one special episode for me for Prime Time Sunday. We dressed up like a bride and groom and they helped me fulfill my dreams of getting married in a completely traditional manner, with all the right ingredients for a perfect South Indian wedding on screen. This was oneave to look after many things, of the most memorable episodes for me and I got very emotional. We got a lot of compliments for it too. My husband Hussain is my pillar of strength.

As a VJ, you need to be conscious of your looks. What is your fitness regime like?

I’m actually underweight, so I don’t have to worry about gymming. I don’t eat too much as I’m not really a foodie. My friends tell me that I’m lying when I tell them I don’t go to the gym, but that’s the truth. Whenever I have a shoot, we have continuous working hours and I really don’t care about eating. When I’m at home, I sleep well, talk well and I’m always happy. I like to be positive and cheerful.

How active are you on social media and how important do you think it is in your field?

All my social media fans love me. I get so many messages, not only from Tamil Nadu but also from other countries. I have verified accounts on all the social media platforms and it’s a great backbone for me, as I have a few million followers and my fans follow me and love me a lot. I also value their comments, suggestions and compliments.

What’s your personal fashion statement like? What do you like about That1Too.com?

I like to dress up in comfortable Western wear. Comfort for me is more important than anything else. That1Too.com has great collections. I loved all their clothes, their styles and accessories. I’m going to pick up costumes only from that1too for my shows now, as they have a very stylish and versatile collection.