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A tale of two mediums

harshikaa udasi
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Manav Kaul, who runs the decade-old theatre group Aranya, awaits the release of two films, City Lights and Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aaata Hai, this year

Last year’s Kai Po Che propelled Manav Kaul into fame. While he had done films earlier — Jajantaram Mamantaram (2003), 1971 (2007) and Daayen Ya Baayen (2010) — his role as the Hindu fundamentalist Bitto Mama in the film adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s book, The 3 Mistakes of My Life , brought him into the limelight. “From the very beginning, I had a feeling that the film would be received very well. The script, the approach and the performances — everything promised a different cinematic experience. And so it was,” he says.

Now, the talented artist is awaiting not one, but two releases this year. The first is Hansal Mehta’s City Lights (releasing on May 1), with Rajkumar Rao and Patralekha, and the second is a conceptual remake of the 1980 film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai by Soumitra Ranade, also starring Nandita Das and Saurabh Shukla. “I met Hansal at the New York film festival and spoke to him about several things, especially how well he had handled Shahid (2013). By the next month, I was signed on for City Lights . I could scarcely believe that I would be working with this director. The film, an official remake of the award-winning British-Filipino film Metro Manila , is being supported by Fox Star Studios and Vishesh Films. “I play Vishnu, the parallel lead to Rajkumar’s character. The story deals with how a young couple, who live in the interiors of Rajasthan, settle in the city, and how the city plays with their lives. I can’t say I am the antagonist. There is a thin line between being bad and wanting to better your life.”

Manav is often asked if he is moving to films because theatre is a ‘dying’ art. The actor, who runs the decade-old theatre group Aranya, and not only acts in films and theatre but also directs them, says he doesn’t understand the reason for the brouhaha. “I believe that when one art form dies, another takes its place. If theatre is dying, another medium will take its place. Change is the only constant and no one is indispensable. There is no point sitting and lamenting over it. We must remember we cannot save everything. It will take its due course. And I say all this in a very optimistic sense,” says the actor, lest he be misunderstood. “Let me tell you that theatre defines me completely. It has made me what I am today. There are two things I love when it comes to being in theatre — that you get piping hot chai and that you get to laugh out loud. I hope to get old that way, with loads of chai and laughter,” he signs off. Manav’s recent play was Colour Blind (2014), with Satyajit Sharma playing Rabindranath Tagore, and Kalki Koechlin playing his muse, Victoria Ocampo.

harshikaa udasi

I believe that when one art form dies, another takes its place. If theatre is dying, another medium will take its place. Change is the only constant and no one is indispensable


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