In the Capital to promote Mad in India, Star Plus’s latest comedy outing on weekends, Manish Paul talks about hosting, not wanting to be slotted as a stand-up comedian, working for happiness rather than money, and more.
How do you respond to the constant comparisons between “Mad in India” and “Comedy Nights with Kapil”? The former has also been at the receiving end of a fair bit of criticism.
Comparisons and criticism are part of what I do. If I can’t take them, I should sit at home. I also feel that you criticise those from whom you have some expectations. Someone you don’t expect anything from and don’t care about, you ignore. At least no one has criticised it — or how I’ve done in it — to my face yet, fortunately. But input is always welcome. You are popular as a host especially for your comic timing. Have you ever been apprehensive of getting slotted into comedy as a genre?
You know, I get asked at times about being very good at ‘comedy’ hosting. But really, what is ‘comedy’ hosting? I believe in hosting that entertains, that’s all. That is what I do and then there is standup comedy. These two are very different things. There was a bit of a misconception when the media was writing of me as a variety of standup comedian. Thankfully, now people understand. They tell me that they are happy with the kind of humour I represent and create, which is classy and meant for everyone because it doesn’t demean. I stay in the zone of entertainment in what I do. I am not a standup comedian and I don’t want to be one.
Between hosting and acting, which gives you greater creative satisfaction?
I enjoy both for different reasons. When I host, there is a certain freedom I have that I thoroughly enjoy and make full use of. I can do things on the spot, use my own wit to come up with impromptu punches and that is always a lot of fun. Acting, on the other hand, is more about discipline. My first stint with it was on television, which I didn’t enjoy much to be honest because it was too mechanical for me. But films are an amazing experience. It’s a different disciplined life altogether. I like to prepare for my characters and am a little obsessive that way when it comes to work. When I did “Mickey Virus” I stayed away from my family for three months, to get the feel of a bachelor. I love the whole process of filmmaking.
You’ve come to Bollywood minus connections and contacts. How easy or difficult has it been?
I came to Mumbai in 2005 and signed my first film in 2012. So yes, it hasn’t been easy and took a while. When I got off the Rajdhani Express for the first time in Mumbai, I was really under the impression that I was the next big thing. I thought people were staring at me because I was too cool. It is another matter they were probably staring because I was dressed funny. I realised quite soon that I wasn’t film material yet. I was honest enough to admit to myself that even I wouldn’t spend money to go and watch a film with me in it. When I got offered films, I thought if I’m being called and trusted by filmmakers, maybe I’m ready. A lot of confidence was given to me by Abhishek Sharma who offered me the lead role in “Tere Bin Laden” when I had actually been called for a small role in his film.
What kinds of roles are you looking to do in your future projects?
I don’t have any preconditions that I’ll only do romantic roles or won’t do roles with comedy or grey shades. I’m willing to do anything that comes with a good script. Whatever lets me perform and satisfies the actor in me, I will do with pleasure. Very soon I will be doing a short film, simply because I loved the script and the character I had to play, which is so unlike Manish Paul. Not too many people watched “Mickey Virus”, but whoever did and spoke to me about it told me that I’ve done a good film. And I was happy.