Travelling in the new normal was scary, but I had fun: Lakshmi Manchu

In mid-July, after spending four months at home, Lakshmi Manchu set a target for herself that no matter what happens, she would unlock with a vacation for her birthday in October. And true to her word, the actor travelled to Goa with her six-year-old daughter Vidya Nirvana to ring in her 41st birthday.

“I just needed to get away from home and travel again. A lot of my friends flew down from different parts of the country to celebrate the occasion with me. I feel blessed and touched because I know how daunting it is to travel during the pandemic,” says Lakshmi, adding, “However, this time, we didn’t go painting the town red. In fact, we swapped the partying for a prayer ceremony, flower blessings and shamanic music. More than a celebration, it was about gratitude — for having loved ones around me during these difficult times.”

Although the actress is relieved that she was finally able to travel again, she confesses that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. “In the pre-Covid era, vacations would start from the airport itself. However, the journey was terrifying. My entire focus was on making sure Vidya doesn’t touch anything. We wore masks, gloves and a face shield and I carried sanitisers and wet wipes with me. But even with safety measures, it was an uncomfortable experience,” she says, adding, “But the moment we hit the beach, we forgot all our fears and troubles. We just relaxed and spent some quality time together. Vidya needed this vacation too and I’m glad I could make it happen for her.”

Although Lakshmi has had her first unlocking experience, the actress says she’s not yet ready to get back on sets. Instead, the popular TV host is coming up with a new social media show Coming Back to Life with Lakshmi, where she will interview popular celebrities — both Indian and international. “I’m not comfortable going out and shooting so I’m doing my best to adapt to the situation. I’ve decided to host this virtual show, it’s my first show in English and the idea is to connect people from India and abroad and ask them the same questions to show how much we actually have in common. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see how the people respond to it,” she says, beaming.

With most of her work moving to the virtual world, Lakshmi also has to deal with her fair share of online trolls. The actress was one of the first from the Telugu film industry to speak up after Rhea Chakraborty’s arrest in connection with the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.

“These people hide behind anonymity and make despicable remarks. I don’t think they will ever change. One negative comment and that person is blocked from my social media, it’s that easy for me. But it takes a toll on my mother who sees such negativity and lets it affect her,” she says, adding, “Celebrities are not elected officials and not answerable to anyone for the way they lead their lives. I hope people realise what others around the world are going through and gain some perspective.”