Mantra, often remembered for his stints on radio and television, is back to movies with the recent release ‘High Jack’. It has actually been a good year for the RJ-actor as he also bagged a theatrical play by Disney, Aladdin and has been offered scripts he was almost always looking forward to. In an exclusive chat with Deccan Chronicle, Mantra came out open and unabashed about comedians who have turned serious (pun intented) and politicians. The comedian could literally be imagined as a different yet good person. Read on to know…
Do you think it’s a dream come true or do you still have to get there?
Na, na. You always push for it and create your destiny. This is my own creation and it’s always there for my better. I’m so happy with whatever I have. If the world was to end any moment, I would be a very happy and satisfied man so there is nothing that I seek more but there’s always room for better.
How did High Jack happen to you?
Because of Akarsh Khurana yaar! Where was that man? Why did he come so late in my life I don’t understand that! If I would’ve met him earlier, I wouldn’t have ever left him. He’s such a good director and such a fun person! I had done a web series with him, but I met him during my theatre days.
In the future, will you be able to focus on radio, theatres as well as movies?
I always call myself a performer. Mediums can change. I do miss radio big time, since I began my career from radio. Maybe in the future, I want to give back to radio by either heading a radio channel or hosting shows there. But right now my focus is on films, especially since my film career has come back on track. I’ve got 2-3 more scripts so will make some choices.
So what kind of scripts are you being offered?
Thankfully not comedy! Because everybody thought I can only do comedy, they offered me that since 2-3 years, which I also refused because it didn’t make sense to me. I’ve got the script of a thriller which will go on floors soon. Apart from that, I’ve been approached for non-comedy web series. So I’m happy people are looking at me as a complete performer not only as a comedian.
Is there a reason you avoided comedy?
I didn’t do it purposely, but I also didn’t want to get stereotyped in one kind of genre. Even if I get comedy, it should be good comedy na? You also know that comedians have started taking themselves too seriously these days.
I would like to believe that a good script is that no matter the genre.
What attracted you towards your role in High Jack?
When Akarsh called me with the script, he said I want you to play a character that is a rough and tough guy who doesn’t smile even for a moment. I couldn’t believe my ears because that is the kind of role I was waiting for! He has now become one of the directors for whom I would’ve just gone and stood in the background if asked to.
Are you a serious or comic person?
I love celebrating every moment man! I like to laugh heartily, cry my heart out, express anger like anything. My life mantra itself is ‘Life is a celebration’.
You all wrapped up the movie in a month. Were there any challenges for you’ll?
The Delhi heat. That was the biggest challenge! We were shooting in March last year in an aeroplane which did not have AC either. That plane had become like an oven, a cooker at that time. Our crew was like a family, who made it all work out beautifully. I have an action scene in the movie too, in a suit. That gave me James Bond feeling.
The film has been compared to Hangover. What is your take on that?
Comparing our film to Hangover will be an exaggeration. It is an easy going, fun film, but it’s nothing like Hangover.
How much can you relate to your character?
I took the film so seriously that even after scene cuts, I used to scare everyone with my toughness. It so happened that when we all sat for lunch and I used to be there, people ran away from my table to eat their lunch on another table.
If you met a Genie in real life and had to wish for 3 things, what would those be?
1. I would love to time travel to see how it was when dinasours existed, how the world was 400-500 years back and how it will be ahead.
2. I would have loved to meet Nushrat Fateh Ali Khan. I wanted to see his live concert but couldn’t and hence I would ask the Genie to help me with that.
3. I would somehow like to bring honest politicians in the country and ask the genie to take away all dishonesty from current politicians because it’s really necessary. I’m saying it in a satirical way but our country desperately needs honesty with which our country is run.