I think Indian audience have evolved in the past few years: Manjari Fadnnis

Yogesh Mishra | yogesh@bollywoodtown.in

Manjari Fadnnis is a renowned actress who has worked in many Bollywood movies and in South Indian films as well. She has worked in movies like Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Grand Masti, Warning, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, etc. In an exclusive interview with Yogesh Mishra, she spoke about her upcoming film The UP Files, her favourite film, the song that touches her heart, her view point on whether OTT is becoming a threat to the big screen industry, future projects, and more.

You are playing the role of a powerful lady cop in your upcoming film, The UP Files. Who approached you first for this film?
I worked earlier with Manoj Joshi ji in Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, so he suggested my name to them. I am really grateful to him for that. Then director Neeraj Sahai contacted me. That’s how I got connected to them. I read the script, and I found it really powerful. I never had an opportunity to play a cop before this.
It seems that the role of Manoj Joshi is very similar to that of the current CM of Uttar Pradesh. Is this story based on Mr. Yogi Adityanath ji?
It is a fictional character. The name of the character that Mr. Manoj Joshi is playing is Abhay Singh. So, the story is basically about how a good CM changes the face of a state. Once upon a time, UP was known as a lawless state, but now it’s in a very good situation. Now the law-and-order situation is far better than before. So, the film is about a good CM, a CM with a good intention & of what he can bring to a state. But yes, a lot of the stories in the film are inspired by real-life incidents, as we know almost every film is inspired by real-life, similarly The UP Files.
What was your first reaction when you got to know that you were going to play the role of a powerful cop?
I was so excited because people have not seen me in the role of a tough and powerful cop yet. I haven’t gotten any such roles so far. The moment this offer came to me, I just jumped into it. I read the script and the character, and the way it was written was very powerful. My first interaction that happens in the film with the CM has a really powerful monologue. It is something that I truly connected with. This character was written beautifully. I hope everyone will love it. I have worked hard on this.
Is your character in the film The UP Files inspired by any real-life cop?
There is nothing as such mentioned in the script. It’s actually a fictional character. But in India, there are so many amazing and inspiring women cops. I myself created my inspiration by reading a lot about a few amazing Indian women who are in the police force.
How was your working experience with director Neeraj Sahai in The UP Files?
It was a fantastic experience working with him. I think he is the person who knows what he wants, and he is a very genuine person. I really appreciate him.
What do you expect from your upcoming film, The UP Files?
This film is made with a good intention, so I want everyone to watch it with an open mind. Listen to what it speaks about.

This, we can say, is the era of OTT. Do you think the way OTT platforms are taking shape can be a threat to the big-screen industry?
I think OTT or anything can never be a threat to the big screen industry. Because nothing can ever take away the charm of watching a film on a big screen, in a theatre full of audience. In fact, OTT is a good thing, not a threat. There are a lot of films that directors & writers wanted to make or experiment with, but producers would hesitate before putting their money into them because they weren’t sure if they were viable at the box office, because everything is connected to profit. When it comes to OTT platforms, there are no worries as far as box office numbers are concerned. So, it gives a chance to some amazing directors and writers to write something out of the box & also producers are more confident to back good projects without worrying about box office nos. Now even our audience have changed. There is so much exposure to the world cinema and some amazing international content. I think Indian audience has evolved in the past few years, and now they want some fresh content. They are ready to experiment. Now because of OTT a good film or series will always find its audience sooner or later. Also, from the point of view of actors, OTT has given so much opportunity to some amazing actors to come up, irrespective of their background, purely on the basis of their talent. Also, there is so much work generated for everyone in all departments of the entertainment industry with numerous projects being made. So, in my opinion, the era of OTT is great for the entertainment industry. Definitely not a threat.
Which is your favourite song that touches your heart?
There are so many favourite songs. Choosing one among them is really tough. But immediately on the top of my mind, I can say, “Phir Le Aaya Dil” hits a chord in me every time I listen to it. It’s a beautiful composition, musically, lyrically, the way its sung… every way possible.
What do you do when you feel low?
I spend time with animals. I spend time with animals, whether I am feeling low or not (laughs). I think this is the most healing thing that you can do. I have two lovely cats at home, Mia & Simba who are like my children, and there are also a few lovely community dogs in my society who we all love & take care of.

Out of your own films, which is your favourite film?
There are many, but I think “Warning” is my favourite film i was a part of. It was Anubhav Sinha Productions’ first film. It was Gurmeet Singh’s 1st film as a director, released in 2013. That is an extremely memorable film for me. We shot it at Fiji Islands and in the ocean. Since it was a survival thriller, me and my other co-actors used to be in the sea almost 14 hours every day to shoot that film. It was physically, mentally, emotionally a very strenuous shoot and we all bonded & how! That was a lovely film, but unfortunately, it could not be marketed well at that time. Still, whoever watches this film now loves it so much.
What next after The UP Files?
I have a few really interesting projects coming this year, and I am excited about all of them. One of them is “Chalti Rahe Zindagi,” which has been selected at multiple film festivals, including Washington DC South Asian Film Festival, Chicago South Asian Film Festival, UK Asian Film Festival etc. We are getting a lot of love for the film everywhere we have screened it. In fact, we also won the award titled- Special Jury Mention at the DC South Asian Film Festival. So, that’s the film I’m very excited about. Then there is another film called “Pune Highway” that is directed by Bugs Bhargava, who directed my film “Barot House” in collaboration with Rahul D’Cunha. Both Bugs & Rahul directed this film together. Pune Highway is based on a very famous play. It has a lovely cast. So, that’s another exciting project for me. Also, I have also done a cameo in the Abbas-Mustan film “Penthouse,” but I think they are changing the name of the film right now. So, yeah, I have a very exciting year ahead.
Any message for the readers of “Bollywood Town”?
I just want to tell the audience; you have no idea how powerful u all are & how important u all are in an actor’s life. When you guys watch our work & love our work, we get more work & more love… so please keep watching all my work & please show some love to all my projects too. Thank you for all the love u have given to me & my work till now… Please give me more! I’m greedy for a lot more love! (smiles).