Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
We had a candid chat with Manjot Singh, famously known for ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’, andthe ‘Fukrey’ franchise. It has been a journey for him and has certainly made a niche for himself in the industry. Here, he talks to us about being part ofAyushmannKhurrana starrer – ‘Dream Girl’, his journey so far and much more… read on….
How did ‘Dream Girl’ happen to you?
I got a call from Nandini ma’am, she is a known casting director. She asked me to audition for ‘Dream Girl’and I did. Ekta Kapoor and the director RaajShandilyaa really liked my audition and that’s how I was onboard for the film. Later, when I read the script I loved it so much, it’s a brilliant script. While reading I was enjoying it to the core and I hope people enjoy it the same way when it’s on-screen. It’s a very different kind of comedy and the actors in the film are so great, like AyushmannKhurrana, Nushrat, Anu Kapoor, and others.
Talking about the cast how was it to work with Ayushmann, and the atmosphere while shooting ‘Dream Girl’?
When I got to know that – Ayushmann is playing the lead in the film, I got very excited. I just love him because without a doubt he is an amazing actor but besides that: he is such an honest human being and is very honest to his work, I really admire him. I would do this film even without reading the script because Ayushmann was there in the film. Shoot atmosphere was very friendly and the best part was our director. He is a very chilled-out person. He never gave us any stress, nor did he take any stress. He used to guide us properly and not pressurise or demand for a shot. Our shoot had been very comfortable throughout; the Balaji team was superb and supportive.
Did you feel stereotyped for being a sardar?
Initially whenever there was a need for a Sikh character, they use to call me; and I was stereotyped for particular roles. But now, they take me as an actor and not a character. Whenever they needed a Sardar they use to take me, but not all filmmakers think that way. Andnow slowly, slowly, people’s perception is changing towards the Sardars. And I think; only film-makers can break this perception. On the other hand, I’ve been very lucky – starting from ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ and working with a big director. I coming from a non-filmy background, I had no god father and still I am lucky enough by god’s grace that I get an opportunity to work with good directors. Eventually I started getting good work, started associating with good banners. I have been conscious in choosing my roles and have chosen wisely. Because my parent’s only concern is that – when I play a character of a sardar, there should be no mocking done of sardars or me. Though such situations arise and comedy isn’t that easy as people perceive, but I have been blessed to be on the right track.
On what grounds do you decide to do film?
If by god’s grace I am selected for a film, I go with my intuition and do the film. Reading the script is not as important as how I feel about the film. I have this sense of intuition and that’s how it works for me. I look forward to how the filmmakers are approaching towards you, during ‘Fukrey’ they made me sit and listen to the narration and that was crazy fun, but mostly I go with my gut feelings and then see the other aspects.
What was the best compliment you received for your work so far?
This would be the best compliment according to me – that said, I don’t typically act like a sardar but act as an actor. I know I am not a star, but people know that I am an actor. I feel satisfied with this and that gives me confidence that I’ve tried to do good work always.
What has been your learning so far from the industry?
As an actor I have grown but I haven’t learnt anything to get here, in terms of acting classes and all. I never knew I would be in this field; it was destiny that brought me here. It was just a random attempt to give an auditionfor a film with my friend in Delhi. There were quite a few audition rounds, in which I was selected, and then finally my last audition was in front of Dibakar Banerjee which I was very nerves of course; somehow I was selected for the film. I was very nerves and shivering for my first take for ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’,but the moment I gave my life’s first take, I don’t know where all my fear, nervousness had gone, and I was so confident and happy that my first take was ok! So,acting as such I haven’t learnt but being on field and watching people, how work is done, how people respond, rehearsals that happen, I tried to in take all these things and evolved eventually. Best part was that I got good directors, who always guided me and taught me to work better. I don’t know if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that I didn’t get time to learn acting in particular film schools. But now if I get an opportunity I will certainly learn, because there are so many things to learn. Right now, I impress the audience with the talent I have inherent. That’s why I feel I am choosy, because it’s better to be seen prominently than seen often.