Manish Chaudhari has over the years stood out for playing memorable characters. The seasoned actor, who was recently seen as the main antagonist in Sushmita Sen-starrer web series Aarya, has been part of projects like Powder, P.O.W. – Bandi Yuddh Ke, Jannat 2 and Rocket Singh, among others.
Looking back at the start of his journey, Manish fondly recalls a memory from the sets of Bombay Velvet.
“During the shooting of Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet in 2014 in Sri Lanka, I had the pleasure of meeting Siddhartha Basu, who I hadn’t met in many years. Siddhartha told me ‘today you are such a big actor, but do you know I was the one who gave you your first role?'”
The project was Kauwwa Chale Hans ki Chaal, a musical satire teleplay directed and produced by Siddhartha Basu for DD National. The show was based on Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, and adapted in Hindi by Ranjit Kapoor.
Elaborating on his first project, here’s what the actor shared:
1. How did your first acting project come to you?
It was 33 years ago. I was 18, and in my first year of college in Delhi University. A friend told me there’s this quiz master who’s also making something for television. There’s a band of young people, and he needs somebody to just strum a guitar. I said I don’t know how to play a guitar. He told me to just come over, and they’d take care of the rest. I got there and saw Siddhartha Basu. He asked me if I was the one who’d play the guitar. I said yes, but I don’t know how to do it. He told me to just play with the strings and that he’d shoot it in a way that it’d look real.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
I just have a vivid memory of being there. I think it was the remake of a play that was staged by the NSD and they were televising it with Siddhartha Basu being the producer. I think it was a one-hour slot on Doordarshan. That was the only channel we had then.
3. Were you nervous?
The camera was so far away from me. I was just lurking somewhere in the background, holding a guitar on the podium where the band was. So I didn’t even realise when they took the shot. They just told me it’s done and I can exit. So there was no facing the camera for the first time. I don’t even know when the take happened and when they cut the shot. It just happened.
4. How was the rapport with your co-actors when you got to meet or work with them again?
We were just a bunch of 4-5 young guys from DU, and all of them knew how to play the instruments. They just didn’t have a guitarist. I think he didn’t turn up, or something happened. The lovely part of this story is, when I met Sid Basu later on Bombay Velvet’s set, he looked at me and said “I’m the maker, beta!” We had a good laugh. It was such a pleasure to meet him after so many years and to be on the same set.
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
It would be nice to have a line to say, instead of being a statue with a guitar in the corner (laughs).
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
One film that made an indelible mark on my mind as a kid was Do Bigha Zameen. When you are young, you don’t care about the names of the actors. You just look at characters and feel overwhelmed. So I looked at this man portraying the farmer. Only later, I realised it was Balraj Sahni. I am sure it contributed in a big way in my decision to take up acting as a profession.
Just when the lockdown started, I found the film on one of the OTTs and watched it again. It’s amazing how you see the same thing when you are seven and when you are 50. You feel the same thing at different ages.
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