Nanihal Lko, films, theatre and Manoj Pahwa
Manoj Pahwa has shot multiple movies in Lucknow in the last few years — ‘Dedh Ishqiya’, ‘Shaadi Main Zaroor Aana’, ‘Mulk’, ‘Abhi To Party Shuru Hui Hai’, ‘Pind Daan’ and now, is shooting for ‘Article 15’.
It’s not just the profession that draws him to the city. “I have an emotional connection with the city as it’s my nanihal (maternal grandmother’s house), so I have been coming here since childhood. My mamas (maternal uncles) still live here in Hind Nagar,” said the actor, immensely popular for his role in the TV show ‘Office-Office’.
Going down memory lane, he recounted, “In those days, Amausi was a village and the airport was under construction and we used to come from Delhi by the Lucknow Mail. I remember, from Kanpur Road chungi (toll gate), ahead of Alambagh, had hardly any traffic. Those huge, ugly tempos used to ply and those too were hard to find. Now, it’s a nightmare going there, such is the traffic.”
But there is a second connection too – Lucknow’s famed food. “I connect more as ‘hum to khaane-peene wali Dilli ke Daryaganj se hain’ (I am from the area of Delhi where good food is relished and cherished – Daryaganj)! I have grown up with Hafizji ke macchli, Mansoor ka chicken, Kareem ka korma and here the tradition continues…Rahim ki nihari, Idrees biryani…kebabs, korma and so on. I am trying to control myself otherwise I won’t fit into my clothes.”
His characterisation of the serious Bilal in ‘Mulk’ won him huge appreciation including nominations in various popular award categories.
“Theatre has trained us to play all types of roles. It’s just that I get to play comic roles more and in Mumbai, for survival and to be able to support your family, you take them. But we keep our eyes open for roles which are different and have something special to do. Anubhav (Sinha, director) offered me the role and ‘bas, hum lag gaye tan-man-dhan se. Mushkil se milte hain aisey emotional roles (You don’t get such emotional roles in a hurry).”
He could relate to the role more due to his upbringing. “In Delhi, I have grown up in a very secular culture. We (us children from many religions) used to go to Jama Masjid, which had Rs 0.25 paisa ticket and with friends used to fly paper planes from the minaret. My father was a victim of partition and had migrated then but he raised us away from those scars.”
He was last seen in ‘Total Dhamaal’ and will next be seen in ‘Pind Daan’, ‘Abhi To Party Shuru Hui Hai’, ‘Student of the Year 2’, ‘Housefull 4’ and ‘Article 15’.
Most of his roles are comic. “Comedy is not easy. The only thing is that I enjoy what I do…be it comedy, serious or any other kind of role. One can say I do similar roles but then I try to do every role differently.”
The actor gives an example. “My wife (Seema) played a mother in four films last year, all having the peg of getting the daughter married. But, every family has different circumstances, so we find different ways to do similar roles. Probably, that is why it has been 25 years now and people have not got bored. It’s just God’s blessing that people love me so much,” the actor said.
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