‘Les Miserables’ actor-writer: Mustn’t have ego while writing

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By Natalia Ningthoujam

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Actor Alexis Manenti made his debut as a writer with the French film “Les Miserables”, which was nominated at Oscars 2020. He found writing a script a hard experience. He says you must not have ego when you write for a film.

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“I started to write a short movie with the director (Ladj Ly) and after that, he asked me to play (a role) in it. Then we wrote a long feature (film). It was my first experience in writing. It was a hard experience because you must almost kill what you did before,” Manenti told IANS.

“You go to the producer, they say ‘no, we will change this’. Then the actor will change some words written by you and then there is editing. You must not have a lot of ego when you write. I have a lot of ego, so it was hard,” he quipped.

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But juggling between acting and writing was not difficult for him as the film’s director “also wrote a lot of aspects of my character”.

“Les Miserables” follows Stephane (Damien Bonnard), a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, as he joins the local anti-crime squad. Working alongside his colleagues Chris (Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), Stephane struggles to maintain order amidst the mounting tensions between local gangs. When an arrest turns unexpectedly violent, the three officers must reckon with the aftermath and keep the neighbourhood from spiralling out of control.

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The politically charged film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival 2019 where it won the Jury Prize. It was also nominated at Oscars 2020 in the International Feature Film category, but the honour went to the South Korean movie “Parasite”.

“I thought the movie (‘Les Miserables’) had a chance because it has a very universal message and is a universal movie,” said Manenti.

Would he call “Parasite” a better film? “I can not say because I am part of this movie. ‘Parasite’ is a very good movie,” said the actor.

Bollywood actor Sanjay Suri will now bring the Oscar-nominated drama to India on March 13.

“I think people (in India) will relate to it. It is a good movie where everybody can recognise himself or herself. It is complex and it has a strong positive message,” said Manenti, who has seen “some Bollywood movies but not a lot”.

The actor has also starred in TV series and short films like “The Last Panthers”, “Clash of Futures” and “Waiting for Jupiter”.

“They (different mediums) help me a lot because they open more gates,” he shared.

He wants to explore more aspects of filmmaking. He will soon make his directorial debut with a short movie. “I will do a short movie this summer. It’s from a tale and it’s happening in the future,” said “The Stopover” actor.

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)

–IANS

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