Laughs to theatre: A chat with Manoj Joshi

For actor Manoj Joshi, Narbachi Wadi is his best film as of now. He speaks about his character and more…

You may recognise this actor, for he is seen in various movies and brings such credibility to his roles that it remains in your memory. Manoj Joshi is a versatile performer who works in Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati entertainment industry. Be it theatre, television or movies, he is present everywhere and has been much appreciated. Most Marathi audience know him from the time he fist appeared on the screen as Peshwa Bajirao in the much-acclaimed serial Rau. In Hindi, he has worked in many films including those by Priyadarshan and the play Chanakya. Known for his comic appearances and serious roles, he will soon be seen in a Marathi film called Narbachi Wadi, directed by filmmaker Aditya Sarpotdar. Manoj Joshi speaks to The Punekar about his role in the film and his career so far.
Narbachi Wadi PosterPlease do tell us about your role in Narbachi Wadi.
I actually play two roles in the film. The first is that of Rangarao who is 75 years of age and is a Khot. The other is that of his son Malhari. In terms of mental and physical sense, I have to play different temperaments. For the first time, I am playing two different roles in the same film and I would call it my best role yet.
Though the film’s director, Aditya Sarpotdar, is a young chap, the rest of the cast is a mix of veterans and youngsters. How was it working with a cast and crew like this?
Aditya is a good director and knows his work perfectly. He knew his characters, storyline and so on. The film starts in 1940 and goes on till the 70s. Aditya has gone through references and all in details. He is a promising director. Plus, I am working with actors like Vikas Kadam, Bhau Kadam and so on. There are two new guys who have done some lovely work. It was good coming together of artistes.
The film shows Maharashtra’s sujalam suphalam. Almost everyone will agree to what is being shown. The film is based on a Bengali play but has been set beautifully set in Konkan. We showed the film to Basu Chatterjee and he liked the film. The film talks about changes in attitudes. I am sure it will be loved and seen by all. The movie is not just entertainment, it has a message to it.
The film is also being spoken about for the prosthetic make-up used on your character. Do let us know about that experience.
The make-up would take two hours minimum. It included dentures, hair, wrinkles and so on. I have to show changes between two characters and had to do changes for the other one. Such make-up was seen only in foreign films. Vikram Gaikwad did the basic set-up while Amol Joshi took the efforts further. I had also done some sketches for myself to understand the character. There has been no compromise on that front. What changes Dilip Prabhavalkar has taken is great. He is a challenging actor to work with, a great actor. It was fun to work with such a phenomenal actor. The film has a feel of a Basu Chatterjee film. There is no forced humour. It is more situational.
Your serial, Rau, was a landmark. Do people still remember you with that serial?
Rau was made between 1989-90 and had only 22 episodes. Age-wise, I fit that role as the character became Peshwa at age 19 and died when he was around 39. People still remember my role. I think I was apt for it. It was my first serial and I am very proud to play someone who never lost a battle. I am thankful to Smita Talwalkar and Sanjay Surkar for the role.
Would you agree that you are stuck with the image of a comic actor?
Honestly, no. In Bhool Bhulaiyya, Priyadarshan gave me a serious role. I have worked in 11 of his films and each has different humour. I am lucky to work with him, as he has given me different roles. He experimented with me as an actor. Humorous roles can be done in different ways. You have to understand its depth to play the role. All humorous roles a have base in serious things. Also, I am doing serious and hardcore roles. For example, I am doing Anurag Kashyap’s film where I am playing Parineeti Chopra’s father. And there is Hassi Toh Phassi. I am also doing Marathi film like Narbachi Wadi. The fun lies in doing different kinds of roles.
When are we seeing you next on small screen?
To be very honest, television is time-consuming. The last serial I did was Gulal and that was around two years back. I did serials to earn money. And then I did things as per my liking. I am what I am because of television. If something challenging comes my way, I will do it, but not your typical serials seen these days.
Lastly, how would you define the film Narbachi Wadi to your audience?
It is a film which can be watched by everyone along with friends and family. It is a feel-good entertainment.

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