Manjiri Pupala, star of the gaslight thriller, says his only regret is that his father did not live to witness any of his films
For actor Manjiri Pupala, life has been everything but straightforward. When she set out on her acting career, being on screen was never a goal. But once her father passed away, she began to take acting seriously. She has been doing well since Betaal, and her current performance in Gaslight has audiences eager to see what comes next for her.
In an interview with ETimes, Manjiri opened up about working alongside Sara Ali Khan, Vikrant Massey, and Chitrangada Singh on Gaslight. She discussed the encouragement from her loved ones and her first experience filming sexually explicit sequences. Follow this…
The audience at Gaslight really enjoyed your performance as the blind psychic. Describe your path to landing this part.
I believe that filmmaker Pawan Kriplani had seen Betaal and was pleased with my portrayal of Puniya. They asked me to fill this function, and I had some inquiries for Mukesh Chhabra’s group. ‘We would rather like to have the director’s narration to the entire process,’ they said to me. This is how Pawan told me the entire story. This was a fantastic protagonist, by the way. I never would have thought I’d do something so crazy. Honestly, it was all because of his foresight.
I am the quintessential city girl, having been born and raised in Mumbai. This intrigued me nearly as much as a made-up persona. So far, I’ve never had the opportunity to portray a blind person on stage. Therefore, we experimented with several lenses and methods. In addition, our acting coach was Rupesh Tillu. During the course, Pawan and Rupesh teamed up, and their assistance in understanding body language was invaluable to me. They knew just what to do to make the protagonist appear sinister. Another one of my passions is learning new languages and picking up new accents.
Tell me about your time spent in the studio with Sara Ali Khan, Vikrant Massey, and Chitrangada Singh. Do you have any funny stories to tell about the sets?
Sara is a pleasure to work with since she is enthusiastic, open, and interested in learning, and she also respects the personal space of her fellow actors.
Vikrant is a superb supporting player. He gives you everything he has in any scene, which makes working with him a dream. Because I come from a similar educational background, doing the ping pong action reaction zone with him was an incredible experience. When Chitrangda ma’am arrives in, she wants to throw this woman out of her room, but Sara is objecting, so Vikrant is supposed to drag me out of the room. The crew had to quickly replace my broken lens with a completely opaque one. Nothing was visible to me. I knew I could trust Vikrant to get me out of there no matter what, since we were both in this together.
Like many others, I have always admired Chitrangada ma’am’s films. Sharing the screen alongside a hero from my youth was an incredible experience.
Please share your acting background with us.
I got my start in the industry as a stage performer, spending the bulk of my career performing in Marathi theatre. After performing a play for a thousand times, I decided I wanted to try my hand at experimental theatre. Since then, I’ve collaborated with such illustrious directors as Manav Kaul, Sunil Shanbhag, Rajat Kapoor, and Gemini Pathak (who directed my first English play) at Prithvi Theatre.
I’ve spent nearly a decade in the business, and I’m still performing because I love theatre so much. I’ve never had much interest in performing in front of a camera. My father’s death in 2013 was a watershed moment in my life. The impulse to act responsibly and maturely kicked in, even when doing so was unnecessary. At that point, I saw I needed to have a business perspective on this area as well. Then, for the first time, I agreed to participate in a television production.
There are many talented theatre performers working in Marathi television who also work in the theatre. Harshada Khanvilkar, Mrunal Kulkarni, Mrunal Deshpande, and Pallavi Joshi are just a few of the incredible female co-stars I’ve worked with. They stood by me when I needed it most.
The short film Aamir, directed by Amira Bhargava and produced under Zoya Akhtar’s watchful eye, marked my transition into film acting. It was included in a collection of short films titled Shor Se Shuruaat. My first experience collaborating with Excel Entertainment was during that time. A few Marathi films eventually come my way. Then came Betaal, and we met Puniya afterward. I really appreciate the kind response.
Who in your family has been your biggest cheerleader? To what extent did you receive approval from your family for your chosen profession?
My mom and my sister have always been there for me. My sister is someone I can talk to about anything. Having someone in my family with such a bold character makes me realise how lucky I am. My strength is in her. Despite the risks involved, my mother has always been encouraging of my professional pursuits. In all seriousness, we are pals.
My dad worked as an art director in the film industry. He had, in a sense, witnessed and experienced the entirety of the film industry’s development. Obviously, he was a very kind and watchful father. His anxiety and unease about this development in my life were palpable. He passed away without ever reading any of my writing. That is the one thing I wish I could change. Unfortunately, he had to leave us too soon. He’s always worried about whether or not he’ll be successful in show business. He was aware of the difficulties and potential dangers.
Do you have experience working with a challenging co-actor? What did you do?
I don’t recall ever having to collaborate with a challenging co-actor. When someone starts acting ridiculous, it’s hard for me not to laugh out loud. The only difficulty is that.
The director of your first Marathi film, “Party,” allegedly brought you to tears by asking you to perform a kissing scene. Do you feel awkward filming personal moments?