Imagination is ‘fiction, what you live is ‘experience’ : Manav Kaul

With his playfully pleasant personality, he won hearts of all men and women alike in his last project Tumhari Sullu. A respected name as a theatre director, an astounding actor and a methodical author is how Aditi (for TMM-ThnkMkt Magazine) gets to know of the multi-finesse personality Manav Kaul in this interview.

You come from a very beautiful landscapes of Kashmir, had a flair for writing, got into direction, theatre and now doing films. What was so special in air of Kashmir that turned you a master of all traits?

(•laughs•) I was born in Kashmir, brought up in heart-state of the country- Madhya Pradesh and have added myself to the population of India’s second most populous state Maharashtra since 1998. So am a multi-state personality. Every time I move to a city, I carry a flavour of the last place  I stalled for a while. Every aspect of my life is beautifully strung with beads of art, culture, beliefs, learning and knowledge from each place I have been to. However, ‘focus’ on a kind of work each moment helps me balance my performance. For instance, if I have an urge to write, I would only write and not think about acting or do anything else. This gives me a better understanding about a subject from different prospectives and aids me work better every time.

You took a long while to traverse your way from supporting characters to lead roles. What took you so long to keep your fans waiting ?

Like every other aspirant; I too carried a rucksack filled with yearning to make it big as an artist in the industry. I began as an actor, but felt not-so-prepared to be in the league during the time. Thus, went back to write and direct plays, polished my skills and re-entered as a grey character in Kai Po Che. The strong portrayal and acceptance made me more confident about a new journey that began beyond boundaries of my theatrical acts. Everything came out beautifully together. Eventually, the people in the industry had set their expectations and had a close eye on me as an actor. A three-sixty turn and everything started getting better.


You took a grey-shade re-birth in the entertainment industry; yet, was not ‘detested’ by your fans. Instead, you gathered more love from them. What was compensated as a potion for you to be successfully winning their hearts?

Most of the time, playing a character of grey is disturbing for audience to watch, and carries a fear of being ‘stuck’ to an artist. I consider myself fortunate that I was not stereotyped to play a negative a role. Even when I enacted a negative shade; I never thought like I was the ‘bad guy’. In real life too, it is rare to see anyone screaming themselves as ‘the bad-one’.Everyone is a ‘hero in his own soul’. All of this kept my conviction strong and allowed me a space to experiment with characters.

You continue to promote theatre through group ‘Aranya’. Does theatre allow a better scope for ‘freedom of speech’ than silver screen? 

Theatre serves an absolute freedom. It does not demand mounts of revenue but permits experimentation with content. All of this provides a space to flow, fail, pass the right and wrong. Every time I do theatre; I probe, work on ideas, scribble a story and pleasantly present it to my niche audience. The power of live performance allows more space to recognise if I am moving on the right track. Thus, even when there is a lesser money; it clearly provides a creative exemption to responsibly speak my heart and mind fearlessly .


What provides you with a feeling of most satisfaction?

‘Travelling’ is most satisfying to me. It breaks a monotony, conceive a series of thoughts for me to build on direction, acting or writing. My back-packing to different places permits me to meet, greet know different cultures stay with me and push those learning into my work.

If you are to choose from theatre, books or commercial cinema; what would you choose as the best mode to tutor younger generations?

In ideal circumstances, ‘writing’ would be the best choice. When one reads regularly; there is a personal relationship you build with your book. It sets you free to imagine with open eyes. The moment you read; nobody dictates you to consider own thoughts and medium. I agree that more impactful medium in commercial world, but it is a directed medium. An actor plays what a director guides you to look like and has an extensive reach. For instance, not many people know that I have authored two books; which again is a problem. But people know Tumhari Sullu and other films. For once, I would love to experience living in a world where books are read and transit a thought. There is an audience of every trait.

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It is widely said that ‘Writing comes naturally’. While a few are gifted writers, authors; many develop interest and follow their hearts to be one. What does it take to be a successful author?

Honestly speaking, I have no idea about ‘how I write, what I write’.Being a voracious reader, I have my set of favourite authors who I read to learn from them. One needs to be thoroughly educated, researched about a case before announcing a statement necklaced-statements. Simply scribbling  a few lines and claiming-oneself as a ‘writer’ does not work. Every writer should ensure writing about a subject only when they are confident about facts and figures to avoid any discrepancies. Imagination is fiction; what you live is an experience. The beautiful bridge that one travels along fiction and experience together assembles a story that sound personal but is fiction. This is how an author successfully manages a story.

Quick takes

One poet you read the most : Vinod Kumar Shukla

Destress activity : Lying on the bed with a cup of tea.

One thing that can change world is today : If somehow we manage to take out religious stupidity, world would be beautiful

If ever you are left in the mountains, what would be one work that you would do : I would plant as many trees until I die

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