Having had his fill of comic roles, Manoj Pahwa credits Anubhav Sinha for presenting him with opportunities to play villainous acts in cinema
Manoj Pahwa’s recent line-up of projects is testimony that he is more than just a funnyman. In 2022, the actor delivered poignant and nuanced performances in Ayushmann Khurrana’s Anek, and Mili, co-starring Janhvi Kapoor. He admits that while breaking away from stereotypes is always rewarding, the willingness to bet on actors to deliver something different is a risk that filmmakers must take.
“When you are good at something, you are only offered those kinds of roles. From a business point of view, it makes sense. But my approach has always been to present something new, even in a comic role. But, I derive joy in delivering a performance when a director like Anubhav Sinha sees in me the ability to pull off something that no one had imagined.”
Sinha and Pahwa first collaborated on Tum Bin, and have shared a bond ever since. Interestingly, 2018, the year when Sinha revamped his filmography with Mulk, also marked a turn in Pahwa’s film career. The director cast him in the role of a hapless Bilaal Mohammed, who is accused of terrorism. Pahwa’s portrayal earned him unanimous praise. “Anubhav went against the grain and cast me in roles that didn’t require comedy. [Intense characters] challenge me as an actor, because it requires me to be observant, and utilise my experience,” says Pahwa, who also has Nitesh Tiwari’s Bawaal, starring Varun Dhawan and Kapoor in his kitty.