He has been doing theatre for the past 18 years but Peepli [Live] is Omkar Manikpuri’s first film and he’s thrilled with the response to the ‘suicidal’ Natha since the first promos started airing.
He admits that he had auditioned for a much smaller role but to his surprise, debutant director Anusha Rizvi offered him the part of the protagonist that actor-producer Aamir Khan was keen to play. “It still feels like a dream,” he says, when questioned on the sudden reversal of fortune.
Based in Bhilai, Chattisgarh, Manikpuri started with folk theatre before enlisting with his late guru, Habib Tanvir’s Naya Theatre group. Today, he is a hero in his home state, after being a part of the Aamir Khan production.
“Earlier people didn’t bother with me much but since the promos started, they have been treating me like a star,” he says shyly. Manikpuri hasn’t got any more Bollywood offers but before he leaves, he’d like to meet Priyanka Chopra and Katrina Kaif.
“I went with Kiran bhabhi (Kiran Rao) to meet Deepikaji (Deepika Padukone). I’m thrilled she liked the necklace I presented her. She also gifted me the DVDs of all her films,” he says, adding that Om Shanti Om is the only Padukone starrer he has seen so far. “But I saw it only in bits and parts. I really want to meet Priyanka and Katrina too but they are big and busy stars, let’s see.”
What about the B-town heroes? “Well, I have told Aamir that I want to work with him. But he’s already juggling three movies, I wonder if I’ll get a chance of living out this dream too,” he says wistfully. “It would be a double bonanza if I get to share screen space with Deepikaji too but until that happens, there’s always theatre.”