Manoj Pahwa, who played Bilaal Ali Mohammed in last year’s Mulk, surprised everyone with his poignant portrayal of a vulnerable Muslim wrongly accused of terrorism.
Talking about working on the Anubhav Sinha directorial, he told News18, “Working on this film was challenging as over the years, I had only been offered roles of happy-go-lucky, funny guys. My Bilaal Ali Mohammed in Mulk was a very emotional, nuanced character. I had a great time doing it. Bade dino baad ek koi achha role mila.”
Thanks to his terrific performance in Mulk, Pahwa has been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor (Male) category at News18 Reel Awards 2019. He is competing with actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Vicky Kaushal, Sunil Grover and Jaideep Alhawat for the top honour.
On how he prepared for the role, Pahwa, now 55, said, “I have been brought up in Delhi’s Daryaganj near Jama Masjid, which was not very different from my character’s social surroundings and culture. My Bilaal is not one person, I had met several people like him before, which is why it wasn’t difficult at all for me to relate to him.”
“The readings, discussions helped a whole lot. Then you also try to recollect all the memories of your childhood, related incidents and put it all in your understanding and portrayal of the character,” he added.
Mulk was one of 2018’s surprise hits. On its success, Pahwa said, “We weren’t expecting the kind of response that Mulk got. That it got made at all was a big achievement in itself. It is very important that more and more people come out to watch good films. These days, people decide by just watching the promo if they’d watch that film in the theatre or not.
“It is important that films have a good message but it needs to conveyed in a way that makes audience want to go to the theatres. Mulk did that wonderfully. It is imperative for important films to have commercial viability so that other producers also get encouraged to make good films.”
On Mulk’s relevance in today’s time, Pahwa said, “Mulk is a very important film. It is very essential that people understand context. You start to doubt people you’ve been living with for 20 years. Humari khud ki kabhi kabhi buddhi kaam nahi karti, dusron ka kya kahenge. People need to use their common sense.”
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