Manjari Fadnis, popularly known for her role in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, has a surprise for her audience. The actress is playing a Maharashtrian farmer’s wife in Wah Taj. Manjari has come a long way from playing a petite school girl in Rok Sako Toh Rok Lo to playing Sunanda Marathe in Wah Taj. In an exclusive conversation with the IndianExpress.com, the beautiful and talented actress talks about her film, her first break in Bollywood and one thing that she will never forget about ace filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar.
How was the experience of working with Shreyas and what preparation did you do for this role.
I think Shreyas is a really nice human being. He is very down to earth. And we had so much fun on the sets pulling each other’s leg and really became dear friends on the shoot. And he was helpful as this was a very different role for me and difficult as well. I did my homework for the dialect and took tips from my domestic help. My character speaks Hindi but she has a Marathi accent. I feel once you wear a particular attire and you have a look of the character ready, somehow the body language flows naturally. And I used to listen to Shreyas and follow the kind of mannerisms and the way he is talking and we would act like a couple.
Do you think Wah Taj will connect with the audiences.
Yes it will connect with the audiences. First of all the audience today are hungry for good, content-driven films that entertain them. Though we are playing Maharashtrian characters Tukaram and Sunanda, they are very entertaining. Plus there’s Taj Mahal which belongs to Uttar Pradesh. I think it will interest everybody in the country and we have got beautiful response to the trailers and once people come to the theatres, they will really be entertained. And they will go back with a good message in an entertaining non preachy way.
Having no godfather in the industry, did you struggle to get your first break in Bollywood.
Actually my first break was not difficult. I had come to Mumbai after my 12th, and I had sent my photographs across. And then I was called to Mumbai for my first ever audition and I got my first film from my that audition. So my first break happened very easily but of course that was the beginning of the challenges. My first film did not work and people started saying no to me. It was an interesting ride after that but I felt very lucky. I got Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na after an year and a half after my first film. And after Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, people noticed me.
You have also worked in different languages like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. How did you manage to work around the different dialects in these movies.
I really enjoyed doing that because I really enjoy languages. I would of course trouble the assistant directors on the sets where I would actually make them sit down and tell me the meaning and pronunciation of every word. By the time the shoot would happen, I would be ready with my lines and I would just emote.
And you are also making your Marathi debut with Sarwa Mangal Sawdhan.
Yes. But we are still shooting for it right now.
Shreyas said that Manjari is a wonderful actress but she hasn’t got her due yet. What do you have to say about that.
First of all I am actually very touched when he said that. I am actually quite moved. I don’t have any complaints as such. My journey has been slow but it has been progressive. I came into this industry raw. I was actually asked to go wash my face during my first audition because I had such bad makeup on. And second time when I went to the office, they really liked me and thought I was perfect for the role. I didn’t even know how to present myself when I would go for meetings. So the only thing I had faith in was my performance. And I think that only has helped me wherever I have reached till now. So it was lot of learning, lot of polishing that I had, and I have been trying to do this with every role that have played, with every performance that I have given and try to become better as an actress. Bit now that I have seen the industry, I know how it works. Maybe I’ll be more grounded now. May be I’ll be more humble. Maybe I’ll be able to handle it better when big things start happening in my way. So yeah I am hoping I’ll get my due.
What do you think that works in Bollywood.
I think talent gets picked up. But yes It’s difficult. It’s very very difficult. I have known lots of extraordinary talented people who are still waiting for their first break. There’s tough competition wherever you go in the world. You have to keep really working hard, you have to constantly have faith in yourself and pursue your dreams.
Are people in Bollywood helpful and nice to you when you are new to the industry.
It depends. I think mostly if they like you or not (Laughs). Well people have been quite nice to me but I can’t talk for everybody. I have had a really beautiful journey.
Any actors in your wish list.
And what about directors.
Rajkumar Hirani. I want to work with Rajkumar Hirani. I love the films he makes. Every movie of his has such a beautiful message and is so entertaining. And then I want to work with Shoojit Sircar. And also with Ashutosh Gowarikar because he is an extraordinary talented director. And he is wonderful gem of a person. When I was beginning my career, there were a lot of people who didn’t care about me initially. I wasn’t getting auditioned after my first film didn’t do very well but Ashu sir was one person who always acknowledged me every time I met him and he and Sunita mam would specially come and speak to me and I will never forget that. And I had lots of moments with him. I remember I was waiting for a meeting to happen and he was there but I had no idea. Suddenly I saw them leaving but they came back to talk to me when they spotted me. They are wonderful people and I have a lot of respect for them.