‘I am a Delhi boy’: Maniesh Paul
Actor and anchor Maniesh Paul talks about the time he spent in the capital, the many places that he is extremely nostalgic about here, among other things
In his debut film Micky Virus, actor Maniesh Paul plays the role of a lazy yet tactful computer hacker who runs a grocery store in day time and creates viruses in night. In Abhishek Sharma’s Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive, he is an aspiring filmmaker who moves to Mumbai to fulfil his dreams, eventually meeting a look-alike of terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Most recently, in his latest film, Jugjugg Jeeyo—also starring Anil Kapoor, Neetu Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, and Kiara Advani—the 40-year-old portrays the character of a quintessential Punjabi brother, Gurpreet. Over his 17 years of being in the entertainment industry—he has played several roles in both film and TV. The common thread that binds all his performances together is the inspiration behind the character wherein the past experience of being a Delhiite comes in handy. “There are so many characters that I use on stage and in my films that I have met somewhere in Delhi,” shares Maniesh, once a Malviya Nagar resident. In this edition of ‘City on My Mind’, the actor tells The Morning Standard about his time in Delhi and the many memories he made here that he still cherishes.
Climbing the ladder to success
Maniesh found solace in the art of acting quite early in life. He spent his entire school life—he studied at Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai—engaged in co-curricular activities such as singing, dancing, and acting. He was keen on becoming a performer even at that time.
His three years at College of Vocational Studies, Sheikh Sarai, where he pursued a degree in Tourism, further helped Maniesh evolve as a performer. The actor would participate in several college festivals representing his college in song and dance competitions. “My funda of joining college, since the first day, was very clear—I wanted to sing, dance, and win prizes for the college, which I did. Never really attended classes though (laughs)”.
Maniesh eventually moved to Mumbai from Delhi on September 12, 2005—the date is permanently etched in his memory. “God has been kind… this city has treated me well and given me a lot of love,” he says, looking back to the many years he has spent here relaising a dream he saw as a child. But every now and then, when the curtains drop and the streets of Mumbai become silent, Maniesh is reminded of Delhi and the simpler times. “I have spent a great time in Delhi. I am a Delhi boy. This is the city that made me sure that I have to make a mark in the entertainment industry. I really miss Delhi at times,” he shares.
A series of nostalgic memories
A few places have a strong place in his heart. The main market of Malviya Nagar where he recounts loitering around with his friends, as a bunch of “vellas”; Dilli Haat, the place where he would go on dates with his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Sanyukta Paul; the delicious food from Pandara Road, and a drive in the evening with his friends near India Gate; among several other such spaces.
Every once in while, the actor does visit Delhi. “It is all nostalgia,” he comments. In fact, the last he was in the city, Maniesh revisited the lane and the house in Malviya Nagar where he and his family once lived. “As Mumbai is all about work now, [coming to] Delhi feels like a holiday,” he concludes.
Favorite place to hangout: Khan Market
Favorite street food: Chaat and Cholle Kulche
Favourite monument: India Gate
A lesson this city taught you: Delhi has taught me how to deal with different kinds of people