Thursday, May 23, 2024

Manuj Sharma: Guns and Gulaabs brings the perfect nostalgic feeling

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Actor Manuj Sharma, who will next be seen in the Raj&DK directorial Guns and Gulaabs, gets candid with The Pioneer about his role, working with Rajkumar Rao, the Late actor Satish Kaushik, and more.

Tejal Sinha

When we speak of actors, there are generally those who, when doing a role, summon their very own “persona” and idiosyncrasies, and then there are actors who totally change their persona to play any character. Well, if we look at actor Manuj Sharma, he belongs to the category of actors who can gracefully change their persona to play any character. Be it his big break with Bhootnath Returns, or Shubh Mangal Savdhan, Vikram Vedha, Phone Booth, Secret Superstar, Lootcase, Suraj pe Mangal Bhari, Ajji, Why Cheat India, or now with his upcoming project Guns and Gulaabs, he has gotten into the characters so well. If we look at his characters, they have a short screen time. But something that we took a shine to was his sporting spirit of working hard on his characters in spite of the screen timing. As we connect with him over a quick chat, one thing that describes his journey so far in the industry, according to him, is ‘Beautiful’. From being in the phase of not being able to fit anywhere in the industry to being shortlisted and then getting to work in the industry he’d dreamt of working in right from his theater days, it’s been no less than learning for him.

Talking of his upcoming project Guns and Gulaabs, he takes us through his getting onboard for the project and avows, “I’m a very big fan of Raj and DK. Every director has his or her way, and so with Raj and DK, they have a quirky style, and everything has some humor. I was very excited that something like this was happening. I got a call from the casting office, and I gave my auditions, which went really well. I was initially nervous because when you pray for something and that happens, you do get nervous along with being excited.”

Set in the 1990s world of crime and violence, it depicts a story of love and innocence blending with humor and romance. Without revealing much of the details about his character, he shares, “It’s a gangster’s world, and I am playing a gangster named Bunty, who initially works under Ganchi (Late Satish Kaushik), and then my journey begins working with Panna Tipu (Rajkumar Rao) and how they work together.”

Having worked with several actors, working with Rajkumar Rao was, according to him, his life’s best experience. But did you know Rajkumar was his senior and they were from the same theater group? Well, yes, he reveals this to us. “Though he was my senior, we didn’t really get to work together,” gushes the Ajji actor. “I always inspired him as a senior and always felt like I’d want to work like him. It is now with Guns and Gulaabs that I’ve gotten to work with him. Earlier, I was a fan as a senior, and when I worked with him, it was now that I understood why he was at that place. He is so hardworking and sincere about his work. He never had that attitude that I could do anything. He was open to trying new things, and he was not someone who had no insecurities. As an actor, if I was trying to improvise anything, he would encourage me more, not just with me but also with the rest. I have worked with many actors, but I would say Rajkumar Rao is the best actor I have worked with,” he adds.

While working on the film, he says, “It gave me a nostalgic feeling. I always wanted to do a film that had a 90s backdrop. I have been a huge fan of the 90s films, and Guns and Gulaabs was the perfect one for me. So more than any preparations, I had excitement within me.”

Be it a short film or a feature film, the script plays an important role in its success. No matter how big of an actor one casts, if they fail to bring out the best in the script, casting A-list actors would be of no use. And the Lootcase actor couldn’t agree more, as he says, “If the script has no energy, no matter what you do or make the actor do, it’s going to be of no use. The script should be rich, and then it is up to the director: how much freedom is he giving? The plus point of working with Raj and DK was that they had a lot of clarity. We shot during the pandemic in Dehradun. They had clarity in every scene. Even when they were working, editing was going on in their minds. If you get a good script and director, you’ve got all you need to see about performance, but first the script. Some films are made with such a beautiful script that being a part of it is more important, and screen time wouldn’t matter.”

The Guns and Gulaabs actor, who initially felt nervous and anxious thinking of how he would interact with such renowned actors, shares that he didn’t feel like he was new to the sets.

Now, as we were heading to the end of the interview, he recalled late actor Satish Kaushik’s comedy timing and says, “His comedy timing is so amazing that there was a serious scene shoot that we were all working on. But the way he was saying it, though he was seriously saying it, because of his comic timing, we couldn’t stop laughing and had to take a short break.”

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