Khuman Nongyai is now keen to do more mainstream roles after debuting in Meenakshi Sundareshwar
Playing the role of a North-Eastern character in Bollywood can come with its ups and downs. We catch up with Khuman Nongyai, who played the role of Diganta, in Meenakshi Sundareshwar to find out more
Khuman Nongyai is being recognised for his role as Diganta in the recently released Meenakshi Sundareshwar on Netflix. We catch up with the Meitei (Manipuri) actor, who is from Assam, to find out more about his debut role and what representation means to him as a North-Eastern actor in Bollywood.
Q. As a Meitei (Manipuri) actor, how was your journey into Bollywood?
I am proud of my journey thus far in the industry. I feel blessed to have gotten some amazing opportunities to work with some talented people. And happy to make my community shine and bring it into the limelight. I hope through my work in the future, people will become aware that there is more to this face than just being North-Eastern. Not just as a Meitei, but having a typical North-Eastern face makes it tough to get work initially in Bollywood. You hardly see anyone with oriental features in Bollywood. And even if there are, the characters are stereotypically Chinese, Japanese or a Nepali security guard. Lately, a few films have been working on including characters and actors from the NE region. We are thankful, but we have a long way to go!
Q. What did you do before you landed the role of Diganta in Meenakshi Sundareshwar?
I only did advertisements before bagging this film. It’s my first film and I'm very glad about it. I never thought that I would be working with Dharmatic in my first film and that too for Netflix!
Q. How was it working on the project and since you played the role of an Axomiya (Assamese), did you need to do any research or homework?
This project taught me a lot of things. I made good friends. Working on this project was a challenge and also a responsibility. About playing the role of an Axomiya character, it was not tough for me because I was born and brought up in Assam, so I knew the character from my core. But I made sure I was in touch with some of my friends from Assam and kept in mind how they interacted or reacted to a particular situation and that helped a lot while playing this character.
Q. When did you decide to become an actor?
I decided to become a professional actor in January 2018. By February 2018 I had shifted to Mumbai to pursue my acting career. This was one of the craziest and toughest decisions I took by myself. To this date I feel like it was all surreal. I still have a long way to go but I feel I am in the right direction. In retrospect, I think I was meant for this.
Q. Who are the directors you are keen to work with?
I want to experience working with all directors as they have their own individualistic styles. And I want to learn more as an actor from them. That said, I really want to work with Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz Ali, Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Shoojit Sircar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ayan Mukerji. They have all created movies that impacted society. I would feel blessed to have an opportunity to work with them.
Q. Are you open to working in other languages too?
Absolutely. I love learning languages. I am trying to get a grip on Marathi now. And recently I tried Mizo for a web-series. Working on a project of a different language is a fun challenge. Someday, I hope to try my luck with Assamese and probably Manipuri films too.
Q. What are your other passions?
I love playing football or any other sport. I like dancing, fishing. I have an interest in travelling to new places and trying different cuisines.
Q. What will we see you in next?
You will be seeing me next in a web series. I am currently working on two web series simultaneously, Escaype Live and another unnamed project with JAR pictures. And if everything goes well, hopefully, something on the big screen soon too. Fingers crossed!