“You are not going to get another life” Manav Kaul
In the midst of heavy promotions, I manage to squeeze in a call with Manav Kaul, who is absolutely a free spirit. Like Vidya, he is lovely to talk to – and I actually feel like I’m talking to Sulu’s husband.
He talks to us about making a conscious decision to portray a completely different character in Tumhari Sulu and sheds some light on where he gets his freedom as an actor from. He talks to us about working with a fantastic team, the welcome change to real scripts and real locations in Hindi cinema, and what he would talk about if he was a Radio Jockey. Here’s our chat.
The character you play in Tumhari Sulu is very different than what we have seen you enact in recent times. What was the reason why you said yes to the film?
First of all, aren’t you enjoying this, loving this? Isn’t this a good change? (chuckles).
Oh, it’s lovely.
Yeah, it’s a full u-turn and I’m dancing and all that. I’m loving it. Thank God it happened.
I frankly love the chemistry you have with Vidya.
It was a very conscious decision actually. What happened was, see, I’ve done Kai Po Che, City Lights, Wazir, and mostly everything was a grey character. Because people liked me in these films, it became a hurdle to do those roles. It became an image I had because I’m a writer, I’m a theatre person, so people just considered me to be a serious guy. He must be sitting there and watching the sunset. I was telling people I like to dance and enjoy in real life but it is difficult to tell people and make sure that they believe in you.
Suresh, the director, has such madness in him that I went for it. I had to audition basically. The casting director called me and told me to audition and I trusted the casting director. They were meeting a lot of people. I did one scene like fifteen times and I loved the idea of the entire character. I also did some look tests with Vidya.
And if you know Vidya, you only need ten minutes with her and she’ll be like your best friend. She’s so lovely and absolutely mad. I consider her my best friend right now (chuckles). So when I found out I would be doing the film, I was so happy because the environment was so great. The team was so good, I love the director of photography, I love the producer. These people are lovely people. This was a dream come true. Everyone on the team was great. The script was great. We did rehearsal for ten days and we shot the film in forty-two days. We just laughed all the time.
Last time we spoke, we were talking about different cinema. We are finally seeing a female character that will be coming out that’s just enjoying herself as opposed to preaching to us.
Yah, there is no message in the film. We’ve made a conscious effort that it has to be a slice of life film and if someone gets a message then that’s a cherry on the top. We made a choice that it is a full entertainer. That you have seen these characters in real life – a middle class life in middle class India. And I love this idea by Suresh. He was very clear from the beginning of the film – that it has to be a fun film.
I’ve spoken to Vidya previously and interviewing her makes me laugh because she laughs constantly. I told her she has the most contagious laughter.
(laughs) Yeah. She laughs at just anything. She’s just mad. She lives moment to moment. The second very important part is, because of her energy and because she is the star of the entire film, when we were shooting, the entire set was vibrant. Each and every person was smiling throughout. That’s one energy and I enjoyed it. At one point, there was a three day gap between the shoot for me. I actually called Suresh and asked if I could come to the shoot because I was missing it. I started missing the set. Vidya’s energy is very, very contagious.
We’re finally seeing the emergence of good films making a mark as opposed to the projected blockbusters, except Golmaal Again, this past year. Where do you think the change is coming from?
I think, firstly, it is so crucial that this change has happened. You see Bareilly Ki Barfi, Newton, and these smaller films are doing well. See, there’s entertainment all around us now. For example, our phone is the biggest entertainment gadget so if you’re not good, you won’t survive. You have to make sure whatever you are producing and what you are delivering, it has to be good. I’m so happy that people are pouring their hearts into a project because formulas won’t work anymore. There is no easy way out and that change is mesmerizing. Irrfan is doing so well, Rajkummar is doing interesting work, Sanjay Mishra is doing well. I like the entire idea of changing cinema and people are writing real scripts. We hardly shoot on “sets” – instead we are going to the real location. If it is a story about Banaras, that is where it is being shot. That change makes the performance real as well. You are not just hearing dramatic dialogues anymore. It’s a great time to be in the industry right now.
A fun question for you – if you had to be an RJ, what would your RJ name be and what would your specialty be?
(Chuckles). This is very tough. RJ is a very, very tough job. If I have to do a show, the name of my show will be “Happily Single (chuckles). Like “Super Happy Single”. I think the specialty will be - I will talk a lot about freedom – freedom of life, freedom of speech, freedom of travel, freedom from everything. I believe that you only have one life and you are completely free to move around. You are not a tree, please move around. You are not going to get another life.