'There is a surge in quality and a reinvigorated push for excellence': Manish Chaudhari on digital content, Aarya and lockdown fitness
Actor Manish Chaudhari has seen it all. Popular for his role as Sunil Puri in the 2009 movie Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, the 51-year-old actor has known the best that TV, as well as mainstream movies, can offer. After over 25 films and various TV shows later, the Mumbai-based actor has now forayed into the world of web series.
In Ram Madhvani’s crime drama Aarya, Manish pulls off Shekhawat, a ruthless but nonchalant gangster with much ease. The 9-episode crime drama also stars Sushmita Sen (in the lead), Chandrachur Singh, Sikander Kher, Maya Saro among others. As the series, now streaming on Hotstar, continues to grab eyeballs for its captivating plot and performances, Manish talks about his role, lockdown and future projects.
Tell us about Aarya. How is your role different from the characters you have played before?
In Aarya, I play Shekhawat, who is an opposing drug-running mafia don to Sushmita's Aarya. He is rustic and sophisticated -- two traits that you usually don't see going hand-in-hand. Therein lies Shekhawat's Charisma!
How was your experience working alongside Sushmita Sen?
Working with Sushmita has been fantastic. She comes with amazingly positive energy and a strong sense of purpose. Her enthusiasm is wonderful to see. She has been a great 'partner-in-crime'!
Does playing negative roles take a toll on you? How do you prepare?
I look closely at the characters I play. Their raison d'être ...their purpose of being. I must feel compassion for them, be able to understand them, understand their actions. Only then do these characters come to life in a real way for the audience. This can be, more often than not, an emotionally draining process. But very satisfying if I'm able to hit the target!
What do you look for in a script? What’s one character you would like to play?
I look for the emotional quotient, for the portrayal of the varied colours of the human condition. These are most important for me in a script.
I would love to play Sh. Balraj Sahni's part in Sh. Bimal Roy's Do Beegha Zameen!
You have worked in television, mainstream movies and now in web series. How do you see this shift in entertainment? How has the work culture changed?
TV, Film and Web- Series are all mediums. They are different from one another only logistically. All three have a common aim, to entertain the audience with wholesome creative content. My experience in all these three mediums has been extremely satisfying. Both creatively and in how the audience has received my work!
As more and more actors and technicians straddle both the world of cinema and the world of the web-series, there is definitely a surge in quality and a reinvigorated push for excellence. Aarya is a prime example of this phenomenon!
Tell us about your future projects.
I have Alankrita Srivastav's Web-Series coming up, produced by Endemolshine. Then there is a series on Sony LIV, Banijay Asia and Salman Khan TV production. Something exciting is brewing with Nikkhil Advani, that I'm not at liberty to discuss at present!
You are someone who came to Mumbai chasing your cinema dreams. What are your thoughts on the ongoing nepotism debate?
It is extremely important to stay focused and determined. There is no other way to realize your dreams. We all fall at times in our endeavour to move forward in our chosen professions. But as one of the most iconic film characters said, 'it doesn't matter how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward'!
How have you been going about the lockdown? What apart from work keeps you busy?
I have been getting some much-needed rest... of course the 'rest period' has gotten extended way beyond anyone's control! I like to exercise and travel. Of course, travel has not been possible for a while now, but I have spent a fair amount of time exercising during the lockdown.
Speaking of which, what is your fitness regimen like?
I do a mix of functional training, freehand training, TRX and Kettlebell routines. Road running is also something I enjoy very much.
Apart from Aarya, what is one current favourite show/movie of yours?
I was mesmerized by Chernobyl on Disney+ Hotstar! The Netflix Film Soni has been another favourite of mine!