Actor Manav Kaul is receiving much acclaim for his performance in the recently released crime thriller, Nail Polish. In the film, Manav plays the role of Veer Singh, who is suffering from a disorder of social identity, accused of raping and murdering two children.
In the second part of the film, Veer (Manav) transforms into Charu Raina (Samreen Kaur), who murdered her lover.
In a recent conversation with Indianexpress.com, Manav talked about the freedom she was given to explore a complex and layered character, and Bugs Bhargava Krishna’s direction was nothing short of a gamble for her.
Some parts of the conversation are as follows:
How have the reactions been so far?
I never thought that I would get such a response. I have been receiving many messages since the release of the film. People are tagging me on various platforms and telling them how they liked what I did in Nail Polish. So, it is a humble experience. Also, the appreciation felt very personal. I think people are well connected with Charu Raina.
So, can we say that your new year has started on the right note?
Absolutely! Also, when you work hard on something, it is a relief to know that your hardwork has paid off.
We have often heard that actors come to an area to play an intense character like Veer Singh. What was your process
My first instinct was – no, I can’t do that. I was very sorry when Bugs was telling me the script. But the moment he said that I have to act with Veer Singh, Charu Raina and Ranjeet too, I got worried. I was like how am I going to perform a woman. I had never imagined anything like this.
I am an actor who believes in living a character more than playing that character. Therefore, I felt that I cannot do anything to which I am not related. But Bugs did a lot of research. I also sat down with the authors for several readings and was constantly taking notes. At home, I tried many techniques to get into the character but nothing worked. However, on the set, when Bugs called ‘action’, the performance naturally unfolded. Before that, none of us had any idea how I would pull it off. So, I think I took a leap of faith.
I must say, your nails in the film are better than mine!
(Laughs) I take it as a compliment but I must add that there is something powerful about it. I applied red nail polish and looked at my nails a lot. It acts like a trigger, I think. It acted like a key to the door to enter the character. Honestly, I can’t put into words how I got into the character, but I think these little things helped.
When you internalize the character to justify it on screen, how hard does it become to let it go?
I used to think it is not hard but it is. It (the character) took its sweetest time to get out of me. I remember, 10-15 days after completing the film, I used to touch my hair a lot. It was not conscious. Deep down, Charu Raina is a very emotional character. So, it took a toll. The experience is unclear, but as an actor, I get drawn to such characters, where you get to figure out what you’re capable of.
What was your first impression of Veer Singh?
I was in shock. I told Bugs that I would need help to demonstrate this. However, he was confident that I could do it. He left the character for my interpretation, which is even more difficult to do because I didn’t have references. But because I get ready for difficult things, I had to be attracted to the character for this challenge.
Bugs were very open to how I would say lines or present body language. He allowed me to do everything I wanted to. When I took the liberty to cut Charu’s dialogues, there were sequences. Therefore, I had a lot of freedom.
On the contrary, I knew that if something went wrong, I would be responsible for it.
In the latter, your split personality comes to the fore. That whole section is the best court sequence I’ve seen. How hard was it What kind of prep did you do for this?
I was not trying to perform or something. Honestly, I don’t like that kind of acting. I was living the character, the moment. I am a very comfortable person. I reacted to what was happening around me. All the people were very supportive. For instance, whenever Arjun (Rampal) kept me in the film, I felt protective. Now, she is not acting. It was easy. It was not in the script.
In my head, I knew that Charu wanted to go to her child’s home or go back to Kashmir. Therefore, I tried to say or do things that Charu felt or would have done at the same moment. It was a very interesting process. Also, for me, acting is very curative. This opens up the amounts you are not consciously aware of.
The film ends on a cliffener. So, can we expect a sequel?
I think so. I hope so. It is entirely up to the director.
Do you think that Veer Singh’s specialty should be a spin-off?
I do not know. However, I would love to explore the character more. Right now, I too have seen some glimpses of that. Therefore, I want to dig deeper. People want to know what happened next (in the film). So, I’m guessing that we can expect a sequel.
Would you call Nail Polish your best, yet most challenging role yet?
I cannot say the best because it is to decide the audience. However, this is the most challenging role ever. I could not sleep for several days. I remember, two days before the shooting of the Charu Raina sequence, late at night, I texted Bugs that I was scared, which had not happened to me before.
You said that you wait for the right script. With the digital medium, has the election become easier for you?
When people took me in the lead roles, I used to think, ‘Who is going to see me on the big screen?’ I feel guilty that the producers and directors are going to lose their money. The moment someone gives me the lead role, I will ask them why they are not choosing anyone else. It’s not about acting because I know I can pull roles. But, I had this burden in my head with all the negative thoughts about me. I think the crime or burden was lifted due to OTT. Now, I trust you. Now, I can perform without any offense. Therefore, I am enjoying this phase.
ZEE5 also starred Nail Polish, Arjun Rampal and Anand Tiwari.