After playing as a married couple in Mimi and as a mother-son duo in Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi the same year, Manoj Pahwa is back with Supriya Pathak. Both feature in the web series Home Shanti. But thanks to their talent and their decades-long friendship, they manage to offer a new chemistry each time they find themselves in front of the camera. As Home Shanti revolves around their characters’ dream of building their own home, Manoj talks about his own struggles looking for a home in Mumbai and how his wife, Gangubai Kathiawadi actor Seema Pahwa was left alone to do the work in the field. Read also : Supriya Pathak recalls looking for houses with Pankaj Kapur, being ‘always a bit short of money’
In a candid interview with Hindustan Times, Manoj shares his own experiences of buying a house and how he ended up getting a 4bhk. He also talks about his ties to Supriya Pathak, now his son Mayank Pahwa’s stepmother. Excerpts:
You are from Delhi. Did you face any difficulties in getting a house in Mumbai?
We don’t have the idea to build a house in Mumbai, we have to get an apartment. We had a small 1bhk in Mumbai so when our kids grew up we had to take a 2bhk. We thought about selling the small one to buy a bigger one but our friends asked us to keep this house and take out a loan instead. We faced several challenges when taking out a bank loan and then had to do renovations in the new house.
So, have you found your dream home?
Yes, things finally fell into place. We had a 2 bhk and when our daughter grew up she wanted a separate bedroom. So we bought the adjacent apartment in our building. We converted it to 4bhk. It took some time but things happened. I used to be busy with work, Seema (Pahwa) went all the way from pillar to post.
How is it to work with Supriya Pathak? You played his son in director Ramprasad Ki Terahvi by your wife Seema Pahwa.
It was a coincidence that we got those roles. Seema ji (Pahwa) wanted me to play the eldest son and Supriya to play the second wife of Ramprasad who was comparatively much younger for him. I have a comfort level with her. We became parents just now but we have been friends of the family for a long time. Supriya and Pankaj ji (Kapur) and their two children and our children, we were all going together during the summer holidays. When these children were in school, we used to go together to Manali, Shimla and other places.
You worked with Sanah Kapur’s parents, Supriya Pathak and Pankaj Kapur. Did you play a role in organizing the match or did it just happen as a coincidence?
As I said, the four children studied in the same school and went on vacation together. We didn’t realize when the two had become more than just family friends. Then my daughter also noticed that it was something more than that. So things opened up and we had a parent meeting. We had no problems because we knew each other very well. It was good in the sense that there were no boundaries like ladkiwale and ladkewale, we were all friends and there were no problems. The two got engaged 4-5 years ago, then there was also the confinement. So one day they said they were ready. We just had to play the role of producers and organize it. The rest, the decor and the concept was the children’s idea.
Tell us about your experience working with Seema Pahwa on Ramprasad Ki Terahvi?
It was a very heavy task because you had to take care of the woman at home and suffer insults in public. (laughs) At least at home, it’s between four walls but on set; you should be careful. She was a director there, so I had to be careful not to get scolded in front of everyone. We did theater together for 4-5 years before we got together and had a good working relationship. As it evolved into something like ‘dil dhadakne do’, we got married.
Initially, I asked her not to take me in the film but she insisted. The whole cast was very special. Vikrant Massey, who used to call me dad in Dil Dhadakne Do, still calls me dad. It was great.
Seema Pahwa played a powerful negative role in Gangubai Kathiawadi. Share your reaction to his performance.
It was a very good performance. His character was scary. I initially avoided watching the movie because people said she looked really dangerous in the movie. I thought I would feel terrified at home. She was such a different character that he could make a person say, ‘kaisi aurat hai ye (what kind of woman she is).
Share your thoughts on the OTT era where great work doesn’t get lost in a movie theater but finds an audience online?
Movies still released theatrically and made way for OTT only because theaters had closed due to a pandemic. How long would we wait for the release of the film? It was good for a lot of movies because in our country the money you spend to make a movie, you have to spend a lot more on promoting it. Rooms have to be rented, which is very difficult for small producers. Thanks to OTT, at least their movies have reached audiences. Previously, there were several movies that came and went from theaters with no smell because there was no money for their promotions. It’s a godsend for actors and directors. So many talented new actors are seen in web series these days and the subjects are so good. To release a film in theaters, you have to make a package with song and dance and it must be adapted to the public.
You have a central role in Anek by Ayushmann Khurrana. You also have Janhvi Kapoor-starring Mili in the pipeline. Tell us about them.
Mili is the remake of a Malayalam film. This is the story of a father and his daughter. Boney Kapoor bought his rights and offered me the role of father. We shot in Dehradun and Mumbai, the film should probably be released in June. In May I have Anek with Ayushmann Khurrana. We shot it in Shillong. It revolves around the drug mafia in the North East.