In TV serial Office Office, actor Manoj Pahwa’s constant samosa eating has tickled the funny bone of many a viewer. And since most of his roles have been as a comedian — be it in film Singh is Kinng or Dabangg — it’s a refreshing change when Manoj informs he is next playing a contract killer, and that too in a Punjabi film. In a chat with HT City, Manoj shares details about his film and his Punjabi connection.
The start is rather unexpected, when Manoj admits he doesn’t absolutely enjoy giving interviews. “Same old questions makes interviews boring — most usually ask me where I belong and how I started. It’s important to dig information about a person and then proceed with the interview,” he explains. But, his warning doesn’t stop us from asking how he came to be in the entertainment industry. It’s a pleasant surprise when he says he gave up his family business to be in the world of acting. “My mother is from Uttar Pradesh while my father’s roots are in Pakistan. I have stayed in Punjab for a long time since we had relatives in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and in Ambala Cantt in Haryana,” says Manoj. At the age of 21, Manoj travelled to Mumbai to pursue his love for acting, but had to return two years later when his father fell ill. “After my father expired, I had to look after our business of automotive parts since I am the eldest child. But, after I had married off my two younger sisters, I handed over the business to my younger brother and moved to Mumbai in 1994 along with my wife, two children and my mother,” he adds.
The rest is history, says Manoj, who found work as an actor. “Everyone thought I would fit best in comedy roles and here I am today, doing my best in it,” he says, adding, “Acting is my bread and butter; I don’t know anything except this.”
The actor says his criteria of choosing work involves adjudging whether the film would be worth showing to his children, apart from looking at the character that he is playing and the team that he would be working with. “From the script to the director and producer, everything is important for me,” says Manoj, who has also done a dark role in film Being Cyrus.
Manoj is now excited about his maiden stint in Pollywood. “In Punjabi film Heer & Hero, I play a contract killer whose name is Bhuchi Badmash. I liked the role when I heard about it as it seemed like a break from the usual comedy that is being generated in Punjabi cinema,” he says.
For that matter, Manoj believes Punjab has been a constant source of inspiration for Bollywood. “Bollywood relies greatly on Punjab for its content. From Punjabi characters to Punjabi songs, Punjab has always been an integral part of Hindi cinema. Even late Yash Chopra’s films almost always mentioned Punjab in some way. More recently, films such as Vicky Donor and Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana are more of Punjabi films,” Manoj emphasises before signing off.