In Tamil cinema, Manivannan is known as a very good actor. He has excelled in comedy roles and also played the villain with elan. With his trademark beard, he is a regular feature in many movies. These days, other than movies he is also acting in television serials.
The actor has also done many films with superstar Rajnikanth. He first role in a Rajni movie was Kodi Parakuthu, which was directed by Bharatiraja and where he played Amala's father.
His next movie with the superstar was Padayappa, where he played Rajni's villainous and scheming uncle. The movie was a big hit and had thespian Sivaji Ganesan starring as Rajni's father. Manivannan played Sivaji's younger brother.
From playing uncle, Manivannan upgraded to playing Rajni's father in Sivaji, marking a steady progress from the hero's father-in-law to uncle to father.
Asked to comment on acting with the superstar, Manivannan says, "When it's a superstar's movie, it does not matter whether I am a villain, comedian or father. Acting in such movies is always good and special."
Apart from the sets he has never met Rajnikant socially but has interacted with him in public functions.
On the sets he says that Rajni is "very friendly, helpful and jolly. He is like that with everybody not only with me. He is a very nice man."
But when it comes to acting, Manivannan says that Rajni takes his craft very seriously. "He takes a lot of interest in every shot. He gives his total concentration. He is an inspiration to rest of the people on the sets."