"HIV is something we can control. It's not something in the air, in the water, it's not in the atmosphere. It is within your own decisions and I would like our youngsters to make good decisions."
Acclaimed actress and director Suhasini Maniratnam has graciously contributed her time and talent to play the role of the female doctor in the Kannada TeachAIDS animations. Her voice will bring the doctor to life, reaching a broad audience with critical information about HIV prevention.
Ms. Maniratnam is widely respected in Indian Cinema, with work spanning the Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam film industries. Her Kannada movies Bandhana and Suprabhatha were tremendous successes, signaling she would be a mainstay in Sandalwood. But she is perhaps best known for her roles across from The Phoenix of Indian Cinema, actor Dr. Vishnuvardhan, including in Bandhana, Suprabhatha, Muthina Haara, Hendthig, Helthini, and School Master, amongst others.
Born in Chennai to the world famous Haasan family, Ms. Maniratnam has roots in cinema. Her uncle, Kamal Haasan, is one of India's most celebrated actors, while her husband, Mani Ratnam, is a legendary filmmaker. Ms. Maniratnam pushed the boundaries to define her own role in the industry, becoming the first female student to graduate from the Madras Film Institute, where she studied cinematography. She quickly transitioned to the front of the camera, making her debut in the 1980 Tamil film Nenjathai Killathe. A widely lauded performance, she won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress, and soon went on to win the National Film Award for Best Actress for her part in Sindhu Bhairavi. Since then, Ms. Maniratnam has won five Filmfare Awards for Best Actress – Kannada, making her the most awarded winner in the category thus far. For her work in other languages, she has won best actress at the Nandi Awards, Kerala State Film Awards, and Filmfare Awards - Telugu.
A talented actress, director, producer, and writer for more than three decades, Ms. Maniratnam wrote and directed her first film, Indira, in 1996, winning two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. Indira was produced by G. V. Films. Ms. Maniratnam and her husband also run their own production company, Madras Talkies, which has produced several widely recognized films including notable Hindi blockbusters like Dil Se.., Saathiya, Yuva, and Guru. These films reflect the couple's desire to address sociopolitical issues in their work.
Ms. Maniratnam is passionate about empowering women, young and old, to achieve their dreams. She runs a well-known NGO, Naam Foundation, that supports underprivileged single women, including those who have been widowed or deserted by their husbands, by developing skills to become successful entrepreneurs who can think outside the box. The organization runs on a mentorship model, with volunteer coaches who meet regularly with the women to ensure they are receiving the information and resources they need to thrive in their personal goals.
Her commitment to combating such challenges in her community, including the heartbreak she witnesses around HIV and AIDS, is what drew her to TeachAIDS. She said, "I come from Tamil Nadu, and we have this place called Namakal, which is the hub of HIV. There I have seen a lot of people who are affected by HIV. When I see that there is industrial growth on one side but there is not awareness on the other side, it breaks my heart. When there is growth economically and in industry, I think there should be growth in information also. It is my desire that all the Namakal women and children, in particular, get to see these TeachAIDS educational materials so they can protect themselves and those dear to them."
TeachAIDS is pleased to welcome Suhasini Maniratnam to our team of global cultural icons. Her gifted acting skills coupled with her widely recognizable voice will bring familiarity and credibility to the character of the female doctor for the Kannada version of the TeachAIDS educational tools.
Photo: Acclaimed actress and director Suhasini Maniratnam records her voice for the female doctor character in the Kannada TeachAIDS animations at Seven Crest Recording Studio in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.