Manav Kaul, who began his journey as a junior artist, theatre writer and director, stole the attention of audiences with his performance in Wazir (2016), while his upcoming movie Jai Gangajaal will explore a newer side of him and his three upcoming releases are scheduled to come on board this year. Despite the presence of stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar, Manav Kaul has got a special mention from most viewers for his performance in Wazir. The theatre actor and writer talks about his slow but steady growth as an actor and his interesting role in the forthcoming Jai Gangaajal.
Your next film Jai Gangaajal is about to be released. Is it a villainous character too?
Bablu Pandey (of Jai Gangaajal) is an MLA. He is not a negative character; I would call him grey-shaded. It’s one of the most emotional characters I’ve played. He is an honest person who values friendship.
How was the experience of being directed by Prakash Jha and having him as a co-actor in the film?
We have become good friends. It is amazing to see him wearing two hats — as a director he is very sure and as an actor he is wonderful. He always works with utmost devotion.
Did he audition you before asking you to play Bablu Pandey?
No, I met Prakashji and he told me about the character. We met again, and after reading the script a couple of times, we decided, ‘Let’s do this.’ He liked my ideas about my character.
What are your impressions of Priyanka Chopra?
Priyanka is a fun person who brings lots of laughter and energy. The way she focuses on performing is inspiring.
What are your thoughts on playing negative characters?
The industry has changed for the better. It’s not about heroes and villains. Every person, including our heroes, plays characters. Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh are amazing actors; they are demanding and perform so well. It’s amazing competition and I love it. If you don’t perform, you’re out.
How do you work off the aggression that you require when playing such characters?
I’ve been in theatres for the past 20 years and I have watched people direct plays. I have lived a rich life and seen a lot of people from close quarters. So I feel that I have all the emotions within me. I draw on them, and use them to perform honestly.
What have you learnt from your long period of struggle?
I don’t think I had a period of struggling; I think of it as a story to tell. I played a junior artiste in films like Champion (2000), I did theatre, I lived in a chawl. But I don’t see it as a struggle, I think of these as stories. I’m here today because I have lived in this fashion. There are amazing people in Mumbai who have helped me as I was always broke.
Now do you feel you have made a name for yourself in Bollywood?
I live in a small apartment now, but am happy with my life. I am getting a lot of appreciation for Wazir now and I hope my journey will continue this way.
What roles do you have in hand?
After Wazir, my second film with director Bejoy Nambiar has me in a lead role in a love story. Jai Gangaajal is due in March. I am doing a psychological thriller, Maroon — The Colour, and also Albert Pinto, in which I play the lead.