Manjot Singh, Bollywood actor (image IANS)
Manjot Singh on a mission to break Sikhs' image in Bollywood
By Natalia Ningthoujam
New Delhi, May 16, 2018: Actor Manjot Singh of "Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!" fame says whenever he expresses his desire to do serious and romantic roles in Bollywood, he is told that a "Sardar will only be accepted in a comic role". The young actor believes only Sikh actors can break this perception.
The audience has seen his comic side in films like "Student of the Year" and "Fukrey".
He agrees that he has done many comic roles but "not the ones where I have had to humiliate myself. The kind of roles that I have taken up were more like situational comedy".
And he wants to explore more genres.
"I wish to do a serious role and a romantic role but whenever I express what's on my mind, I am told that a Sardar will only be accepted in a comic role. People cannot imagine a Sardar wearing a pagdi (turban) romancing an actress," Manjot told IANS in an email interview.
"What they do not realize is that this perception about Sardars has been set by Bollywood itself and only we can break it. Most of the Sardars in the industry face this. That perception is slowly changing with actors like Diljit Dosanjh and me who are taking up more serious roles."
In fact, he is also planning to produce a movie on a "Sardar who has a dream to become an actor but each time he goes for auditions, he is turned away because there is no comic character in the movie".
He was last widely praised for his role in the 2017 film "Fukrey Returns", which will air on &pictures on May 20. It is his first sequel.
On the challenges of doing a sequel, he said: "There are many challenges, especially if the first part has performed well and has been appreciated by the audience. The biggest challenge is that the second part should do as well as the first part if not better.
"That is a risk for both the producers as well as the actors. For 'Fukrey Returns', we did not want to make the sequel only for the sake of money. It took us four years to crack an idea that the audience will enjoy as much as its prequel ('Fukrey').
"It was a journey, a continuation of the story. There was a lot of thought put into the story and screenplay."
Would he like to feature in a sequel of another film?
"I would love to be a part of 'Namaste London' because I love the movie. Whenever I watched it on TV, I wished to be a part of the movie. People also tell me that my comic timing is similar to that of (actor) Akshay Kumar's. My mother believes that I express anger quite convincingly on screen," said Manjot.
He had also participated in the show "Fear Factor - Khatron Ke Khiladi".
"I do enjoy television but I haven't got anything that would interest me. Also, I had started working in movies including Punjabi films, so television took a backseat. I have got some good offers, but not what I want," he said.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)