Tired of giving video interviews, Manjari Fadnis decided to get out of the air conditioned room and sit in the corridor and get some fresh air by the pool side. And what followed next was the ‘Wah Taj!’ actress being at her cheerful, talkative and bubbly best.
In a wonderful interview with the girl who once stole away my heart with her performance in ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’, the actress opens up about her upcoming movie, working with Shreyas Talpade, her presence in social media and why she would sign a movie opposite Hrithik Roshan even without reading the script!
Q. Why ‘Wah Taj’? Especially since it has been under constant controversies..
A. Not constant controversies! There’s only one controversy it was a part of. And that too got over long back!
Q. But wasn’t it a very sensitive subject to get into?
A. Actually, the intention was never to create a controversy. The whole idea was that there are so many movies being promoted so how do you suddenly bring the attention towards one film. So that’s how the idea of those posters, which actually started the controversy, came up. So it was a very creative call…we guys decided hum log posters lagaate hain ki from 23rd September onwards Taj Mahal is shut. So everyone were like, “What?” But we were not saying anything else. It was not anything negative. It was just to make everyone curious. That was the only intention and within a week we were planning to reveal that this is for a film and everything. So that was a very simple idea; nothing to hurt anybody’s feelings! We are very sorry if we did that. And then we completely backed off and apologized to everybody who got sensitive about that whole thing. Thank god now we’re out of the whole thing. And thankfully the trailer is getting a very heart-warming response so we’re very happy about that!
Q. Tell us something about your role in ‘Wah Taj’
A. I’m playing Sunanda Marathe, Tukaram Marathe (Shreyas Talpade)’s wife. She’s this fiery young wife who’s gone out there to support her husband for getting back the land of her husband’s ancestors. So she’s very happy, and very nicely dressed up and gone with her whole boriya bistar, tractor and everything along with her husband to go live in the Taj Mahal. And she’s like- This is our ancestral property now, and because we are farmers so Taj Mahal ko hum log hataa denge, we will do some farming and I’ll make a small little jhopda of mine on the side. So it’s a very innocent story about two people minus any greed for Taj Mahal. For them it’s their property and they just want to do kheti. So that’s my character- simple, innocent but strong.
Q. Could you relate yourself with this character?
A. Not at all (laughs)! I don’t relate to this character at all because neither am I married, nor am I…I am very urban girl.
So actually what had happened was that my director, met me when he was working with Indra Kumar sir and he told that time, “Manjari, when I’m directing my first film I’d love you to act in it.” So I was like “So sweet, thank you sir”. And then I went home and in my head I was like” Heh! Yeah Right…I believe you! What nonsense!” And you know sometimes lot of people say a lot of things with a lot confidence but it’s very difficult to actually stick by your words after so many years because there are so many actresses who keep coming and you change your mind. But Ajit ji, he stuck by his word to me. So before ‘Wah Taj’ also, there’s another film he was working on which never took off…so even that time he’d approached me, and then he approached me for this. The moment he gave me the one liner, I was like I was like “WOW! I wanna be a part of this”. I was very touched…emotionally touched because we weren’t in touch for all these years and suddenly when he was genuinely ready for a project, he came back. So it was extremely nice and I have a lot of value for that. And he believed in me. I have played urban characters. But Ajit ji was very convinced that Manjari kar legi. Ek toh I’m a Maharashtrian…but of course my Marathi is not good...but it’s a Hindi film and I just had to get that Marathi touch and everything.
But our writer for the film was very (skeptical) because I went to the meeting wearing a short dress…my casual summer dress and open hair…and very urban. I didn’t know what the film is about that time, and then the whole narration happened. And I’m very sensitive about vibes so I knew that Salim ji is not convinced about me and is very half-heartedly giving me a narration and he saw me and he looked at Ajit ji and he didn’t say anything; but I could make out that he’s thinking in his head “Really, her? She’s so urban…so you think she’ll be able to take the character or what?”
So it was interesting because his heart was in his mouth till the first day of shoot and till the first scene happened…even on the set he was like, “Acha Manjari, woh body language dekh lena, woh Marathi laheja dekh lena.” And I was like “Don’t worry sir”.
So I knew I could do it, I knew I would work hard and I would get it right and stuff. So when I gave my first scene, was when everybody sighed out of relief and he came up to me and said that “Manjari I’m sorry I have a confession to make” and then they said that…I’m sorry I thought that way. And I was like chalo everyone’s happy now.
Q. So what kind of preparations did you undergo for this kind of role?
A. So for this role…first of all, I listened to a lot of Marathi. I tried speaking more to my Maharashtrian maids who speak in Hindi but are Maharashtrians. See the thing is, knowing one language is easy. Knowing both languages is also easy. But actually mixing one language into the other gets a little challenging. To speak in Hindi but have a little Marathi twist to the words… You know, that little bit of accent that comes. So I really enjoyed the process. When I’m going to buy bhaaji and all that from market, so I would listen to those ladies talk. And then of course, I was working with Shreyas- the Marathi actor!!
Q. So how was it working with Shreyas Talpade?
A. He is very helpful! I think Shreyas is one of the most supportive, one of the most fun to work with and a very encouraging co-star. Because ek toh yeh hota hai ki a lot of actors have that little bit of insecurity…I think all actors are insecure. But it’s very rare to find somebody who is so comfortable in his own skin, so secure as an actor and as a person. In fact, very happily bade dil se he gave me his lines yaa! That really meant a lot to me no matter how much ever he teases me and jokes about it that, “Isney meri lines cheen li” and all that. But actually, if he had like 4 lines and I did not have too many lines that time, also because they all realized that I am able to pull it off is why he also helped me and got more enthusiastic and, he gave me a few lines to say…a few punch lines he added to mine; which is something I am very thankful for. So yes, he’s that kind of a co-star and he’s become a friend and is so much fun to hang out with. I think I have enjoyed the promotions of this film more than I have ever enjoyed any promotions of any of my films till date.
Q. You are not very active on social media…
A. Personally I am very social! I have a lot of very dear friends. But yea ask your question…
Q. Any particular reason why you aren’t so active on social media?
A. I think I am?
Q. Not much! We just see you tweeting only during your film’s promotions and you’re not much into clicking selfies and stuff. And do you think it is required in this industry?
A. Okay, I’m slowly, steadily learning (laughs). Social media gives you a big platform to connect with your fans, which is nice. See when it all started off.. Instagram, Twitter and everything; half the time, I didn’t know what to say…I didn’t know what to do! I did not like the idea of selfies because I look really fat in selfies…till I got my own new phone and my camera was better…so now I’ve started clicking. Listen, I’ve become better now, okay? (laughs)
So the last four months, I’ve become more active than I used to be. But how important is it…yes it is important to connect with your fans, it helps you grow you fan-base, people want to know what you’re doing and everything. So yea, I’ve started enjoying it now.
But very honestly, I’m not good at promoting myself. I don’t have a PR team who will do that work. Trust me; there are lot of people who have teams telling what to tweet and what will work and what will not. Now I don’t have that team in hand with me and besides…I’m lazy! I’m very bad promoting myself and don’t know what will suddenly go viral. So I’m very happy in my personal life and I love the work I’m doing. I’m very happy in my work. So as long as I’m working I’m happy. So maybe that’s the reason I’ve not really been very active. But I’d like to be…I’ll learn!
Q. You’ve worked with so many actors in the past. Any one actor you’d really like to work with.. Someone who will make you say a ‘YES’ without even looking at the script?
A. I have been a huge, humungous fan…okay I understood what is being a fan when I saw ‘Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’. So till then I didn’t understand this concept. Okay.. I love Aamir, I love his performances and he is one my favorites. And I do become very quiet in front of him, you can make out that I talk non-stop, but in front of him I become very quiet I don’t know what to say.
But the fan-girl thing I realized when I saw Hrithik Roshan. I saw that film thrice in the theatre. I had just given my exam and I was allowed (to watch the movie), and I was just going and watching him. I came back and sketched his portrait without any grids or anything to make it perfect and it came out looking like him. So I used to believe he is my dream boy. So you know I went through that whole phase. So yea man…Hrithik Roshan!
I’d love to work with Ranbir Kapoor…I think he’s a powerhouse of talent, he’s so brilliant!
Q. What about your upcoming films?
A. Please go watch my short film ‘Khamakha’! It’s getting a very good response. You saw it? Did you like it? Please be honest…
Q. Yes, it was really nice.
A. Share it now! So yes, that happened…I really enjoyed it! It was a road thing..i loved it.
And after ‘Waj Tah’, I have ‘Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’ and I also have ‘Baba Black Sheep’. And there’s a Marathi film also on-floors. I have done all languages- Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali…this is my first Marathi. I enjoy languages so it’s never a barrier for me.
Q. Any message for your fans?
A. I just want to tell them please go and watch all my films give me all the love because that’s what keeps us going and makes us want to do better and keep loving us!
Here’s wishing the actress all the best for ‘Wah Taj’ and all her upcoming movies.