After starring as a married couple in Mimi and a mother-son duo in Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi in the same year, Manoj Pahwa is back with Supriya Pathak yet again. The two feature in the web series, Home Shanti. But thanks to their talent and their friendship of decades, they manage to offer a fresh chemistry every time they come together to face the camera. Since Home Shanti revolves around their characters’ dream of building their own house, Manoj opens up about his own struggles of looking for a house in Mumbai and how his wife, Gangubai Kathiawadi actor Seema Pahwa, was left alone to do the field work.
In a candid interview with the Hindustan Times, Manoj shares his own experiences of buying a house and how he ended up getting a 4bhk. He also talks about his bonding with Supriya Pathak, now the mother-in-law of his son Mayank Pahwa. Excerpts:
You hail from Delhi. Did you face any difficulties in getting a house in Mumbai?
We don’t have the concept of making a house in Mumbai; we have to take a flat. We had a small 1 bhk in Mumbai, so when our kids grew up, we had to get a 2 bhk. We thought of selling the small one to buy a bigger one, but our friends asked us to keep that house and take a loan instead. We faced several challenges while taking a loan from the bank and then had to do some renovations in the new house.
So did you get your dream house?
Yes, things finally fell into place. We had a 2 bhk and when our daughter grew up, she wanted a separate bedroom. So we purchased the adjacent flat in our building. We converted it into a 4bhk. It took time, but things happened. I used to be busy with work. Seema (Pahwa) used to do all the running from pillar to post.
How is it to work with Supriya Pathak? You played her son in your wife Seema Pahwa’s directorial Ramprasad Ki Terahvi.
It was a coincidence that we got those roles. Seema ji (Pahwa) wanted me to play the role of the elder son and Supriya to play Ramprasad’s second wife, who was comparatively much younger than him. I have a comfort level with her. We have become relatives just now, but we have been family friends since a long time. Supriya and Pankaj ji (Kapur) and their two kids and our kids, we all used to go together on summer vacations. When these kids were in school, we used to go together to Manali, Shimla, and such places.
Sanah Kapur and Mayank Pahwa's wedding
You have worked with Sanah Kapur’s parents, Supriya Pathak and Pankaj Kapur. Did you play any role in arranging the match, or did it just happen as a coincidence?
As I said, all four kids used to study in the same school and used to go together on vacations. We didn’t realise when the two became 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 meeting of parents. We did not have any problems as we knew each other very well. It was good in the sense that there were no demarcations like ladkiwale and ladkewale; we were all friends and there were no issues. The two got engaged 4-5 years ago, and then there was a lockdown as well. So one day, they said that they were ready. We only had to play the role of producers and organise it. The rest, the décor and the concept were the idea of the kids.
Tell us about your experience of working with Seema Pahwa on Ramprasad Ki Terahvi.
It was a very heavy task, as one has to deal with the wife at home as well as take insults in public. (laughs) At least at home, it is between four walls, but on set, one has to be careful. There, she was a director, so I had to be cautious in order to not get a scolding in front of everyone. We did theatre together for 4-5 years before getting into a relationship and had a good working relationship. As it evolved into something like ‘dil dhadakne do’, we tied the knot.
Initially, I asked her not to include me in the film, but she insisted. The entire cast was very special. Vikrant Massey, who used to call me papa in Dil Dhadakne Do, still calls me papa. It was a lot of fun.
Seema Pahwa and Alia Bhatt in a still from Gangubai Kathiawadi.
Seema Pahwa had a powerful negative role in Gangubai Kathiawadi. Share your reaction to her performance.
It was a very good performance. Her character was scary. Initially, I avoided watching the film as people said she looked really dangerous in it. I thought I would feel terrified at home. It was such a different character, it could make a person go, "Kaisi aurat hai ye" (what kind of a woman she is).
Share your thoughts on the era of OTT, where quality work is not lost in a movie theatre but finds an audience online.
Films were always released in theatres and made their way to OTT only because cinema halls had shut down due to the pandemic. How long would one wait for the film’s release? It was good for many films, as in our country, the money you spend on making a film, you need to spend much more on its promotion. You have to rent theaters, which is very difficult for small producers. Due to OTT, at least their films reached the audience. Earlier, there used to be several films that would come and go from theatres without a whiff since there wasn’t any money for their promotions. This is such a boon for actors and directors. So many new and talented actors are seen these days in web series and the subjects are so good. To release a film in theatres, you have to make a package with song and dance, and it should be audience-friendly.
You have a pivotal role in Ayushmann Khurrana’s Anek. You also have the Janhvi Kapoor-starrer Mili in the pipeline. Tell us about them.
Mili is a remake of a Malayalam film. It is the story of a father and a daughter. Boney Kapoor bought its rights and offered the role of father to me. 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.