Theatre is the gym for actors: Manoj Pahwa

Mumbai: Veteran actor Manoj Pahwa, who has been working in the entertainment industry for last 26 years in which he has explored three mediums – television, stage and film, says theatre is an important platforms for any actor to develop skills and to learn how to stay relevant with time.

Asked about his favourite medium of acting, Manoj told IANS: “Theatre is the gym for actors. For a performer, theatre is the medium that gives an opportunity to work on your skill, your imagination, physical and mental strength as an actor. You upgrade yourself in theatre to stay relevant.”

Citing an example, Manoj said: “We do plays where we are performing one character even after hundred shows. As an actor, we have to tune ourselves with the changing time to keep the performance and play relevant for the audience.

“We do rehearsals and rehearsals to get it right. So, theatre is where an actor grows.”

The actor will soon to be seen in an ensemble cast family drama film called “Khajoor Pe Atke”, which also features Vinay Pathak, Dolly Ahluwalia, Seema Pahwa, Sanah Kapoor and Suneeta Sengupta.

On the character he plays, Manoj said: “I am playing the elder brother of the family who unnecessarily takes responsibility of everyone and everything under every circumstance.

“It is a very typical nature of an elder brother of every middle-class family where he becomes an example for all his siblings. So later in life, even though everyone is mature enough to take their decision, he has to say something…that makes the situation more complicated at times.”

Starting his career in TV with comedy shows like “Just Mohabbat” and “Office Office” Manoj has acted in films like “Being Cyrus”, “Singh Is Kinng”, “Dabangg 2”, “Jolly LLB” and “Dil Dhadakne Do”.

He has mostly been seen in the comedy genre in films.

“In films, I was always offered comedy roles whereas in theatre and TV, I got a chance to experiment with more. I do not really blame the producer to typecast me because they want to play it safe for the business of the film.

“As an actor, even I did not say no to those films… So it is a two-way process,” he said.

But what kept him away from experimenting?

“Look, I am a realist. I know if I am in a city like Mumbai, I have to run my kitchen. I have a family. Either I should stop acting in comedy roles in films and wait for my life to one great opportunity, or I nurture the artiste in me on stage where I experiment a lot.

“I don’t complain, I try to find a way to enjoy my craft. The theatre is there for that.

“Having said that we are in a good time now as people are making a different kind of films. Characterisation is changing, so actors like us (me) are getting the opportunity to do experimental work,” he added.

Did he imagine he will be so successful in the business of entertainment being an outsider?

“Well, when I was packing my bag for Mumbai, I was only confident about my skill as an actor that I earned from doing theatre for nine years in Delhi. But the fact is, in Mumbai city, knowing your work is not enough to survive… network and opportunity matters.

“I am thankful that I earned respect and manage to make an impact as an actor in last 26 years.”

The film “Khajoor Pe Atke” releasing on May 18.