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"In television, looks matter a lot. I wish the focus was on acting abilities" : Manav Gohil

If you thought that the youth of today pursues a career in the same line as their education, this one is for you! Manav Gohil, for one, never dreamt that he would be an actor. Quietly, he did his B Com and MBA from Baroda and started a marketing consultancy firm where he trained company recruits on the art of selling their products. But destiny had other plans. Suddenly struck by glamour, he began his long drawn out struggle with an aim in mind that he won't let it go. Today, he is a known face on the tube.

Fast forward. After being bumped off unceremoniously in Miditech's Saara Akaash (Star Plus) which he claims was a case of 'changing tracks', he was doing quite a decent job in Manshaa (Zee TV). Now that the serial is over and done with, we were wondering if he was going to be twiddling his toes big time. But hey, here he comes in Sony's CID.

The time is right to meet this tall, dark and unconventional looker. Excerpts from an interview by's Vickey Lalwani.


How did a management personnel become an actor?

Just for a lark, I participated in a pageant in Ahmedabad which saw me crowned as 'Man of Gujarat'. The crown on my head started doing the talking, or rather, spinning my head. 'Why shouldn't I go to Bombay and try my tryst at modelling and television?' Cut to Mumbai. I stayed as a paying guest in Napeansea Road. I got a few screen tests, but failed. I felt intimidated; I couldn't speak when the moment came.


That must have been disappointing?

Disappointing? That was terrible. I was advised to join formal training in acting. I asked some money from my dad and enrolled under Kishor Namit Kapoor (pauses).


Go on...

I started doing theatre under the hope that someone from films and television would give me my first break. Time was running out, in the sense, my finances were getting dried up. Those days, theatre didn't have the market what it enjoys today. I was getting terribly frustrated. I don't know why but I didn't feel like going back.

And one fine day, I went to the UTV office asking for a role. I met a gentleman called Tripathi and told him that I wouldn't leave until I got some role in any of their shows. He obliged me with the role of a compounder in C.A.T.S. Luckily I was noticed. And then, Janam Samjha Karo and Chudiyan happened.


After which you got into the Balaji camp?

Not immediately thereafter. After Choodiyan, there was a small gap before I was offered Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii. Actually, Ekta had seen me in my struggle days. Once I was shooting for a pilot of a Balaji show called Kavita. The show was aired on DD, but the casting was changed. Ekta had dropped in there for some reason. Everybody got up to greet her. I don't know why but I thought that I should not give her too much importance as I didn't know her.

Later, I went to her office to collect my money. Incidentally, she walked out of her cabin at the same time. I said "Hi Ekta, I am Manav Gohil." She looked impressed, maybe by the fact that I had avoided that 'chamchagiri' which other people usually do. Anyway, she told the Kahaani... EP to cast me in the role of Vikram. Post Kahaani..., I did Kkusum, Kasautii... and Kahaani Terri Meri.


But you disappeared from 'Kahaani…' without an explanation as to how the character was terminated?

Did I? (smiles) I know what you mean. Rinku (Chaya, my wife in the serial) and I (Vikram) were packed off abroad in the story. Initially I thought that this was just a temporary phase and I would either be shown landing back in India or doing a few scenes from abroad, but… (shrugs). At this point of time, Balaji Telefilms called me for Kkusum.

"Ekta Kapoor is a very hard task master"

But you disappeared from 'Kkusum' as well?

I was doing Kkusum and Kasauti Zindagii Kay simultaneously. I guess, both the roles were somewhat similar, both demanding me to suspect my wife. I went to the US for a few shows...


Sorry to interrupt you, but Ekta Kapoor is a very hard task master. Did she allow you to go for such a long time?

Yes, she is a very hard task master. She had her apprehensions in letting me go, but she didn't say much I guess because firstly, my roles were not so prominent and secondly I had given her a three month prior notice. There were five people from the Balaji camp who were going for the same show. Three of them who had major roles in the serials did face some kind of problem.


Go on…

While in the US, I had some time to myself. I thought that I was getting straitjacketed in the two serials without doing anything significant. The story in both the serials had no focus on me anymore. I was just hanging in the background. So when I came back from the US, I spoke with Ekta and told her that I had lost interest in Kkusum and Kasauti… She offered me the lead role in Kahaani Terri Merri. At this point of time, I started getting lots of offers- Mulk, Kum Kum, Saara Akaash. I thought things were changing in my favour, but… only if life was so easy!


But you did 'Kahani Terri Merri'?

But it wasn't before I underwent a period of hurt and agony. After Ekta and I spoke that day, I did not get any call from Balaji Telefilms and I started to get restless. I gave a call to Balaji Telefilms and learnt that they had already casted someone else for that character. I felt very hurt. At least, they could have informed me. I dropped Mulk and Kumkum thinking that I would be doing the lead in KTM. I had planned to allot three weeks for KTM and one week for Saara Akaash. Later, Ekta called me and asked if I wanted to do some other role in KTM or do Kya Haadsa Kya Haqeeqat, but I refused. A week later, I got a call from Balaji Telefilms that the guy whom they'd chosen as a lead in KTM was not happening.


And the agony intensified when 'KTM' went off the air abruptly?

(Smiles) Still, I got a platform to enact a lead. Thereafter, I started getting calls for better roles which were better than the ones that I had played before. Those who mattered began to see me in a different light.

"Saara Akaash, underwent some major changes because Star Plus wanted the family angle to come in as those days, there was a fear of CAS and they wanted to play safe"

What went wrong with 'KTM'?

There was a major communication gap between the concept and its implementation. A lot of re-shooting had to be done and we were struggling to make a bank. Ekta was doing her film at that time and she could not devote much time. By the time she looked into it, she made some major changes. But it was too late. Things had gone haywire. There was even a dispute between Balaji and Sony Entertainment Television; Balaji had projected the show as big as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and SET said that they could not pay that much as the show was not fetching the TRPs.


And then?

I was shooting for Saara Akaash, which underwent some major changes because Star Plus wanted the family angle to come in. But then I don't blame them. Those days, there was a fear of conditional access system (CAS). So they wanted to play safe. Alongside, I did Mansha.


Does PR help in the TV industry?

To a certain extent only. But, looks matter a lot. I wish the focus was on acting abilities. Everything has become so glossy. Today, a serial like Buniyaad where the lights were slightly dim, will not sell. The channel will immediately complain and will want the cameraman changed.


Are you a methodical actor?

I was a methodical actor. But now, I am in the process of becoming a spontaneous actor. I can't go on rubbing my nose and think for every scene. I want to evolve from that phase. I want to get into the skin of my character that emotions come pretty quickly to me.


Do you prefer your directors to give you flexibility?

I like my directors to give me a little flexibility in the way I enact my scenes. If a particular scene is okayed by my directors and I feel that I could do it better, then I ask for a retake.


How did 'C.I.D' happen?

BP Singh called me and I could see that he was offering something very meaty to me. I have always had a fascination for thrillers. And I am sure that I'll enjoy every minute doing this one.


Why did you opt out of 'Saara Akaash'?

I have not opted out of Saara Akaash. I was shown dead and my track stopped there. Presently, I am talking to them and my track might restart again. But I really don't know when that will happen because I am supposed to go abroad for a month for my play Uncle Samjha Karo. For the time being, I am involved with building a bank for C.I.D which would be utilised while I'm away.

"In a serial, tracks and focus keep changing. An actor should keep doing his work without thinking too much"

But Manish Gohil and Anuj Saxena have firmly opted out saying that the entire focus is on Sai Deodhar...

(Interrupts) Even I think that way. But I am game to restart playing my role. In a serial, tracks and focus keep changing. An actor should keep doing his work without thinking too much.


Are you going to be an integral part of 'C.I.D' from here on?

Yes. I'll be playing the role of Daksh who is this happy-go-lucky cop. He is shown to be just back from the US and is now part of the crackforce team.


Have you been told how many episodes you will be doing?

No, I haven't been told.

What is the difference between doing a play and a serial?

I have become habituated to doing serials. But I still get very nervous when I go my first shot of every show of the play. Performing live in front of a crowd without any room for error is altogether a different experience. But then, it has it's advantages.

Like what?

That nervous feeling breeds insecurity which in turn brings out the best from me (smiles).