Manju Warrier got married to actor Dileep in 1998, and quit acting at that time. She divorced him in 2015. And made a comeback to cinema after a 14-year sabbatical with the critically and commercially successful film How Old Are You (2014) which fetched her many accolades notably her fifth Filmfare Award for Best Actress - Malayalam.
Manju Warrier was born in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu on September 10, 1978 into a Malayalee Warrier family from Pullu, near Aalapadu, Thrissur district, Kerala. Her father, Madhavan Warrier, was working as a chartered accountant with Sundaram Finance's Nagercoil regional office. She did her primary schooling at CSI Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Nagercoil. After her father got promoted, they returned to Kerala and settled in Kannur. She studied at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kannur and later at Chovva Higher Secondary School. She later graduated with a degree from Sree Narayana College, Kannur through distant education. She has an elder brother, Madhu Warrier, who is also an actor and producer.
In the first half of her on-screen career, Manju featured in 20 films with prominent directors and superstars producing a number of performances that earned her equal billing with the male superstars in Malayalam. She played each of these roles with consummate ease, probably the only actress at the time who could carry a film on her shoulders. Even at school, Manju showed extra ordinary talent in dance, and won many awards. She was conferred with the Kalathilakam in Kerala Youth Festival for 2 years. She first appeared in a television serial Moharavam which was telecast on Doordarshan. At the age of 17, she debuted in the film Sakshyam (1995). Later at the age of 18, she acted in the movie Sallapam (1996), co-starring Dileep, whom she later married. Since then, she acted in around 20 Malayalam movies over a span of three years.
Her performance in the movie Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu won a special mention from the jury for National Film Awards. Her other films include Kanmadam and Aaraam Thampuran with Mohanlal, Ee Puzhayum Kadannu and Kudamattam with her husband Dileep, Summer In Bethlahem, Pranayavarnangal, Pathram and Kaliyattam with Suresh Gopi, and Irattakuttikalude Achan, Kaliveedu, Thooval Kottaram and Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu with Jayaram. She won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the movie Ee Puzhayum Kadannu. Her role as the depressed Devapriya in the film Thooval Kottaram was highly appreciated. The film won three Kerala State Film Awards. She also acted in Kaliyattam, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, which won two National Film Awards and four Kerala State Film Awards. She acted alongside Mohanlal for the first time in Aaram Thampuran. It was subject to high expectations, as it was the first collaboration between Mohanlal and Shaji Kailas. Upon release, this film broke many records became the highest-grossing Malayalam film of 1997 and completed a theatrical run of 250 days. In Kanmadam, she portrayed the role of a high-tempered blacksmith named Bhanu, which also starred Mohanlal. In her film Daya, Manju disguises herself as a man and does this role with full perfection. The film went on to win three National Film Awards and five Kerala State Film Awards. Her role as the strong-willed Devika in Pathram became popular among the audience. The film was highest grosser of the year 1999 and ran over 250 days in theatres. Her last film before she took a sabbatical was Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu. Her portrayal as Bhadra, who takes revenge against Natesan who killed her parents, is considered her best acting performance to date. She was nominated at the National Film Awards but she lost to Shabana Azmi. She was awarded the Best Actress (Special Jury) for her performance. In a span of four years, Manju Warrier has acted in almost 20 Malayalam films and majority of these films have been hits at the cinemas.
In 2011, she appeared in the promotion event for the movie Gaddama alongside Samyuktha Varma. On October 24, 2012, she performed Kuchipudi in Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple. Later in July 2013, she acted in a commercial with Amitabh Bachchan. Her comeback announcement was greeted with much fanfare by fans and the media. In a subsequent interview, she thanked her fans for welcoming her back to the industry and described the opportunity to work with Mr. Bachchan as one of the most memorable experiences of her life. She later appeared in many advertisements for Kalyan Jewellers alongside Amitabh Bacchan, Aishwarya Rai, Akkineni Nagarjuna and Prabhu Ganesan. It was announced that she would make a come back to the Malayalam film industry through Ranjith's untitled project alongside Mohanlal, but this project did not materialize.
Warrier was the cynosure of attention as she received the book penned by her friend and actress Navya Nair. Navya has written Navayarasangal and the first copy was received by Manju Warrier from the hands of veteran poet and activist Sugathakumari. Warrier mesmerised the audience in Calicut when she presented a Kuchipudi recital as part of the tribute ceremony of late Mullasseri Raju. She recently published a book titled Sallapam.
She made her much awaited return to cinema with Rosshan Andrrews's How Old Are You in 2014. Manju played the character of Nirupama Rajeev, a UD clerk in Revenue Department. The film earned positive reviews from critics and was received well by the audiences. How Old Are You? is a strong, inspirational tale of a middle-aged married woman’s fight for identity, and carries a tagline that reads, “Why should there be an expiry date to a woman’s dreams?”. "The film, from start to end, belongs to Manju Warrier, who brings in freshness, vitality and versatility back to the screen and you cannot quite believe that she has been away for 14 long years," wrote Sharika. C of The Hindu. She received numerous accolades and became the goodwill ambassador of many ventures related to organic farming, inspired by her film.
She followed How Old Are You Blockbuster hit and next Sathyan Anthikad's Ennum Eppozhum which reunites her with Mohanlal after a gap of 17 years. The film was a superhit box office. Behindwoods wrote in their review - "Almost after 17 years, Manju Warrier is teaming up with Mohanlal and her acting on the given role is no less. By her efficiency as a prolific advocate, Deepa becomes the talk of the town. Her controlled acting and her way of emoting fearlessness, hatred and empathy talks of her experience in the craft. Even her Bharathnatyam is so perfect and original. " Her next project was Rani Padmini by Aashiq Abu along with Rima Kallingal released in October 2015. The film received a decent response from the box office as it is a women-centric film, even though it faced tight competition from other movies like Ennu Ninte Moideen and Amar Akbar Anthony. Her character received positive to mixed response and was noted for her "minute expression changes and mannerisms". She has a slew of other film projects announced. She acted in Jo and the Boy, her last release in 2015, as an animator.
Her first film in 2016 was a cameo appearance in Paavada. Her first full-length role in 2016 was Rajesh Pillai's Vettah, a mind-game thriller, in which she appeared in the role of a police officer for the first time in her career, and the film was a hit at the box office. G. Rajesh of manoramaonline wrote - "In rough khaki and beautiful salwars, and as a brave officer, a caring mother and a daughter, Manju dazzles." She acted in a Sanskrit stage drama based on Abhijñānaśākuntalam. She was praised by actors, directors among others present at the event. An article in The Hindu said, "Manju Warrier breathed life into the character of Shakuntala. Rendering in tune ‘Itha ithaha sakhyaou...’ (meaning; this way my friends) and then making her entry in on stage in a sitting posture, drawing parallels with a flower in full bloom, Manju, though a first-timer, started off well in tune with her experienced co-actors who shared the stage with her." The play was presented by Sopanam Institute of Performing Arts & Research, founded by the late Kavalam Narayana Panicker, and was hosted by Swaralaya. Manju debuted as a producer as well and the play was produced under her banner, Manju Warrier Productions. Her next film was Karinkunnam 6S, in which she played the character of Vandana, a Volleyball coach. The film was appreciated by critics. Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala praised her acting in the movie and the movie was also a hit. A review in IndiaGlitz said, "Manju Warrier looks very cool and level headed in her role as a spirited coach." She also sang a song for cancer patients for the show she hosted Kerala Can(Manorama News), tuned by Ratheesh Vega, which brought in a lot of praises.
Her first release in 2017 was C/O Saira Banu, in which she appeared as a post woman. The film also marked the comeback of Amala Akkineni in Malayalam after more than two decades. The film earned mostly positive reviews and her acting was highly appreciated by critics. Jayasurya, Nivin Pauly, Rosshan Andrews, Bhagyalakshmi and other prominent members of the industry praised the film. Mohanlal also wished best for the film and appeared in a voice appearance in the movie. Her role as a postwoman struggling to make both ends meet with his son in the first half and the mother who would go to any extreme for her son in the second half was well received by audiences. Manoj Kumar. R of Indian Express wrote, "Manju walks away with the film with her charming performance." Anna M.M. Vetticad of Firstpost wrote - "Warrier has the personality to carry a film on her shoulders. C/o Saira Banu is greatly helped by her charisma and Shane Nigam’s likeable presence – watching him as Joshua, it is easy to understand why a woman might go to such lengths to protect this flawed boy. "
Her upcoming films include B. Unnikrishnan's Villain along with Mohanlal, Phantom Praveen's Udaharanam Sujatha and Kamal's biopic Aami in which she does the lead role, Sajid Yahiya's Mohanlal along with Indrajith Sukumaran, V. A. Shrikumar Menon's Odiyan, Venu's Gabriyelum Malaghamarum with Prithviraj Sukumaran, among others.
On 20 October 1998, Manju married actor Dileep at Aluva Sri Krishna Temple. The couple have a daughter, Meenakshi. Dileep and Manju filed for divorce in 2014 and it was granted in January 2015.SerialsMoharavam (Doordarshan)Talk ShowKerala Can (Manorama News) Cancer Awareness Program - Host
The song sung by Manju Warrier in the program, which was tuned by Ratheesh Vega, brought in a lot of praises.Kalyan JewellersSony IndiaMeriiboy Ice CreamDhathriKitchen TreasuresALIFF Brand Ambassador - Cinema for WomenSamsungUjalaGoodwill ambassadorShe - TaxiKudumbasree's Organic FarmingNaipunnya development programKSEBPink PatrollingHorticorp (Kerala State Horticultural Products and Development Corporation)
Manju Warrier was considered as one of the best and most successful leading actresses in South India. The late thespian Thilakan considered her a brilliant co-star from the experience of having acted with her in Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu, which incidentally was one of her last films before she took a break.
She was featured in a list of women superstars in South Indian cinema by The News Minute and top South Indian actresses by InUth. Her return to stage at Guruvayoor as part of Navaratri dance festival was received with much fanfare. Directors Ranjith and Sathyan Anthikkad graced the occasion. “I was expecting a few people, if at all; only those who would be at Guruvayoor that day. God made me very happy that day. I am grateful to him," she said to The Hindu.
She is considered one of the best spoken actresses in South India. Her opinions at the India Today South Conclave was well noticed. Speaking at the event, she described what her opinion was about beauty and about the North-South divide. She described universal beauty as "beauty that comes from character and self-respect, self-belief or beauty that comes from having ideals and principles."National Film AwardsSpecial Jury Mention-1998- Kannezhuthi Pottum ThottuKerala State Film AwardsBest Actress - 1996 - Ee Puzhayum KadannuFilmfare Awards SouthBest Actress - Malayalam - 1996 - Ee Puzhayum KadannuBest Actress - Malayalam - 1997 - Aaram Thamburan, KaliyattamBest Actress - Malayalam - 1998 - KanmadamBest Actress - Malayalam - 1999 - PathramBest Actress - Malayalam - 2014 - How Old Are You?Vanitha Film AwardsBest Actress - 2015 - How Old Are You?Best Actress - 2017 - Vettah, Karinkunnam 6SAsiavision AwardsBest Actress - 2014 - How Old Are You?Best Actress - 2016 - Vettah, Karinkunnam 6SAsianet Film AwardsBest Actress - 1998 - KanmadamBest Actress - 1999 - Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu, PathramBest Actress - 2014 - How Old Are You?Best actress - 2016 - Vettah, Karinkunnam 6S.Janmabhumi AwardsBest Actress - 2016 - VettahMangalam Film AwardsBest Actress - 2014 - How Old Are You?Film Fans AwardsBest Actress - Thooval KottaramSouth Indian International Movie AwardsBest Actress - Malayalam - 2014 - How Old Are You ?Prem Nazir AwardPrem Nazir Award - 2016Screen - Videocon AwardsBest Actress - 1996 -Ee Puzhayum KadannuBest Actress - 1997 - Aaram Thampuran, Krishnagudiyil Oru PranayakalathuAnand Tv AwardsBest Actress - 2017 - Vettah, Karinkunnam 6sNAFA 2017Best Actress - 2017 - Vettah, Karinkunnam 6'S.Manorama NewsmakerNewsmaker of the Year - 2014, WonNewsmaker of the Year - 2013, Top 10, NominatedKerala Sangeetha Nataka AkademiKalashree AwardKalabharathi FoundationNrutha Sree AwardKattal PuraskaramKattal Puraskaram - 2017Filmfare Awards SouthBest Actress - Malayalam - 2015-Rani PadminiBest Actress - Malayalam - 2016-Karinkunnam 6'sIIFA UtsavamNominated - Performance in a Leading Role - Female - Malayalam - 2015 - Ennum EppozhumNominated - Performance in a Leading Role - Female - Malayalam - 2016 - VettahSiimaNominated - Best Actress - Malayalam - 2016 - VettahAsianet Film AwardsNominated - Best Actress - 2015 - Ennum Eppozhum, Rani Padmini