Mahesh Manjrekar’s latest web series Pawan and Pooja features the actor in the role of Pawan, a 60 something man who loves his wife (played by Deepti Naval), and wants to fulfill all his wishes which were left unfulfilled due to family responsibilities. For that, he prepares a regret list and starts ticking off dreams from it. He does it with such innocence and liveliness, that you instantly connect with his character.
But is Manjrekar anything like his character Pawan in real life? In a freewheeling chat during a promotional event in New Delhi, the actor tells indianexpress.com that he is “a switch on and switch off actor who gets into a role only when the director says ‘action’ and gets out of it with ‘cut'”. Manjrekar also opened up about his acting process, work as a filmmaker and actor and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
You make a list of regrets in the first episode of Pawan and Pooja and try to do what you missed doing in life until now. Is there a regret list in real life as well?
There are many regrets in life but then there are a few regrets about which a person feels happy as well. Like, I was an excellent cricketer and Ramakant Achrekar was my coach. He used to say if not India, I will make you play for Bombay. But then I was quite impatient and one day I stopped going for practice. He tried to reason with me but I told him I didn’t want to play cricket. Today, I have no regrets of not being a good cricketer because then I would have missed being in the movies. So, there’s always something which balances your regret. In movies, I wish I could have gotten the role of Circuit in Munnabhai MBBS. Rest, I don’t keep any regrets and enjoy every moment of life. That is the thrill of life.
Did you relate to your character Pawan? Are you live-in-the-moment person like him?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I don’t try to find similarities with my characters because then it becomes difficult to act. I know I am playing a role. I do it and then forget it there itself. I am a switch on and switch off actor. I am too preoccupied to be in a role for a long time. I am an actor who gets into a role only when the director says ‘action’ and gets out of it with ‘cut’.
What is your take on relationships and love in today’s age?
Love is love, be it any age. But the problem arises when instead of communicating in person, you are on your phone. Why do you have to send hearts to the person you love? Simply pick up the phone and say ‘I love you’. Mobile phones have become a necessity and our children do not realise that we can survive without it. They are aghast that how could you do without a phone. I agree you get so much information from this (pointing towards the phone) but the negative side of it is, communication is being lost. So, this generation needs to find a balance.
You have been an actor, scriptwriter and director. You have also worked in different genres – action, comedy, romance. Was this a deliberate choice?
I do whatever appeals to me. I did Vaastav and then I did Astitva. Both were starkly different. The first HIV movie in India, Nidaan, was done by me which at that time nobody dared to even try. I have this diverse line of work since I am not afraid of failure. I am always thrilled about trying new things.
You have worked with actors like Salman Khan, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt and now you are working with the younger generation of actors like Ranbir, Ranveer. Do you find any difference in their style of work or how they approach their characters?
Today, the actors are much more organised and disciplined. They are doing one film at a time and giving it their everything. They prepare well for their characters in advance.
Was your daughter Saiee’s debut nerve-wracking for you?
I was least bothered. I said she will get what she deserves. To be honest, I wouldn’t have done this film (Dabangg 3). I would have opted for a role that would be closer to today’s girls and today’s story but fine. She has time, she is just 18. But I was not nervous and I even told her ‘you do your hard work and then forget about it.’
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