If you’re even remotely clued in to the web, you are sure to have heard of Shreya, the dream girlfriend from TVF Pitchers or more recently, Chanchal, the voice-of-reason yet impulsive middle sibling from TVF Tripling. Two extremely popular and much loved characters that made actor Maanvi Gagroo a household name. Maanvi, who was also part of Milind Dhaimade’s film Tu Hai Mera Sunday that traveled to various film festivals, is currently seen in ‘Guy in the Sky’ streaming on HotStar.

The series that went live on June 13 revolves around the lives of a pretentiously happy couple that has a strong view on political affairs. Maanvi, who plays Mehak, talks to Pandolin about her character, what it’s like to dabble with comedy when she loves drama and how things have changed for her since her first acting stint at Disney.

Maanvi Gagroo

Maanvi Gagroo

Let’s start with your character Mehak in Guy in the Sky. What is she like?

Mahek and Raghav are a regular urban couple. They are socially aware and highly opinionated about politics in the country. Mahek particularly, is highly conscientious. She believes it is one’s duty to participate in political matters if they want a change in governance. However, her idea of participation is limited to social media activism (like a lot of us today).

What sets Mehak apart from a Shreya (TVF Pitchers), Chanchal (TVF Tripling) or the other characters you’ve played till date?

Mahek is your typical privileged individual. She’s born in a well-to-do urban family with access to the best schools and colleges and has now quit her job to become an activist. All this because she had the luxury to do so. This makes her extremely self-assured but not necessarily self-aware. She has never faced any real problems and even when she did, they were taken care of, for her, by other people. Neither Chanchal nor Shreya enjoyed this luxury. Shreya was pretty much self-made while Chanchal was somewhere in the middle.

Mahek’s idea of participation is limited to social media activism (like a lot of us today)

Since Guy in the Sky is a contemporary take on Chandrasekhar Kambar’s ‘Scapegoat’, did you refer to the original for reference / inspiration?

I didn’t. The script I was working with was Bikas’s (Mishra, Director) adaptation and I stuck to that. I would however really like to read it, now that we’ve finished shooting.

Guy in the Sky

Maanvi (Centre) with Director Bikas Mishra (Left) and co-actor Sunny Hinduja

How was the experience of working with Tannishtha Chatterjee who is largely known for hard-hitting serious roles?

(Laughs) For that very reason I was a little wary of her initially. I thought she’d be this no-nonsense kind of a person and not fun at all. But I was in for a complete surprise! She was not only fun to work with, she’d fool around and gang up with us to play pranks on people on set. Of course, we must’ve been a nightmare for Bikas to deal with together!! (laughs)

Humor has been a key element in the web series that you’ve been part of, does that come naturally to you?

Not at all! I’m not very comfortable with comedy. While I enjoy watching it, I am petrified of performing it. It just DOES NOT come naturally to me. I must however add at this point that in real life though, I think I possess a very good sense of humour (laughs).

If it were up to me, I’d only do emotional roles

What do you personally prefer, a role that requires the perfect comic timing or something serious? 

‘Something serious’ all the way. If it were up to me, I’d only do emotional roles. I love drama (as a genre of course), so anything that’s well written and well – rooted in that sphere, is on my wishlist. Maybe some day, I’d be bored of doing that and would want to try other things but for now, I’ve got drama on my mind.

Having done a variety of work across mediums, what is it that draws you towards a character, makes you say yes to the role?

It’s mostly gut to be honest. Pragmatically speaking though, sometimes it’s the character, sometimes it’s the people involved, sometimes it’s the platform and sometimes it’s simply good money. Every medium, every project, has its own pros and cons and eventually it boils down to which weighs the other one out.

Guy in the Sky

Poster of ‘Guy in the Sky’

From your first stint with Disney, to the successful web series and more, how would you say you’ve grown as an actor?

I think at the same rate as I have as an individual. Of course I have more technical knowledge now than I did then. I’ve also learnt and made a few tricks of acting in front of the camera. But my approach to acting remains more or less the same. Wow, I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing!

I feel there’s still a bit of ambiguity among people regarding the web

Web Series like Pitchers and Tripling have made you a household name, how has that changed things overall, in terms of the projects coming your way?

It’s interesting actually. I’m getting offered some really exciting things. Suddenly, the characters coming my way are far meatier than what I was getting earlier. However, I feel there’s still a bit of ambiguity among people regarding the web. For a lot of people in the industry, there’s this sudden crop of actors, writers, directors that have come up on the scene. They don’t know what to make of it. It’s almost like they don’t know what to do with all this talent.

The future looks promising though. I think all the media are merging. Filmmakers are now making web shows; web creators are making films and so on. Everything is intertwining, in a good way. These truly are exciting times.