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Maanvi Gagroo: I am learning what to say no to, and how to say no

Tripling actor Maanvi Gagroo talks to Bhavi Gathani about her journey as an actor, her experience of working in popular series, and the expansion of the web space

You started your career with a teen-friendly sitcom, Dhoom Machaao Dhoom, and now you’re a recognised face in the web space. What’s that journey been like?

Very long but interesting! I think you also need that much time, when you are not from the industry, because there are so many things you don’t know, so many things you learn on the job. It takes a certain amount of time to realise the kind of work you like to do, the kind of people you want to work with, what to say no to, how to say no. There is a lot to learn. And then when the opportunity presents itself, you are ready. You are prepared and you can just jump into it. That’s pretty much what happened with me.

Has the perception of the industry changed towards you after all this time?

Yes, completely. In fact I keep telling people that while doing Dhoom Machaao Dhoom I was still in school. It was never the plan to pursue this professionally. I went back to Delhi to continue studying. Then another film happened. I came here, shot for it and went back again. I was in college by then. After I’d finished studying, I finally moved to Mumbai and decided, okay let me do this as a career. I realised I was getting offered a lot of roles very similar to what I had done. But I was okay with that, because tab tak utni samajh bhi nahi hoti. You just think, I’m getting so much work, and you continue to do it.

Then at some point I got tired of doing the same thing and decided that I needed a change. That’s when Pitchers happened, which was a completely different kind of character. My character has only three scenes in the entire series, but the character leaves such an impact. It was a fabulous show, it became what it became and then it changed the game in general. The industry started taking me more seriously as an actor, and then Tripling happened and after that I got popularity.

While working on Tripling, did you ever think the show would get so big and have another season on a much bigger scale?

Just yesterday I was saying to the director of Pitchers, Amit Golani, that I have given up trying to predict the audience’s reaction. I am horrible at it. When Pitchers was being made, I knew I wanted to be part of it because it was just so good. It was so exciting and new and fresh but I was sure it wouldn’t be that popular. I thought it would have a niche following, only people in startups, probably, and maybe a few others. And it was such a big hit!

The same thing happened with Tripling. I was doing it because it was TVF and it was fun and I wanted to be part of it but I said, I don’t think it’ll work. And then Tripling became so popular. Then there are shows I have done which I thought would do very well and haven’t. So I have given up trying to predict the audience’s reaction. The reaction of the audience is something that you cannot predict.

After the massive success of Tripling, did you feel the pressure of heightened audience expectations for the second season?

Tripling 2 was the first time I was doing season two of a character. I was stressed about how I was going to get back into character, because in the first season I had had a lot of time to develop the character and sink my teeth into it. This time I didn’t have that much time. Anyway, once we got on set everything fell into place. It started rolling like no time had passed.

But when the first poster came out, it didn’t have the name of the show on it. It had just our three faces and said ‘Out in March’. Somebody in the group said, shouldn’t we put in the name of the show? The marketing team was sure that everybody knew the show by now. We were very skeptical. But the day the poster was released, my Instagram crashed. I was getting calls from the social media team saying, why aren’t you posting it; post it now! And I was like how am I supposed to do that; my Instagram has crashed! That was the kind of response Tripling got. I kept telling Sameer (Saxena), the director of the show, how are you dealing with these expectations, because I was losing sleep with all the pressure. (Laughs)

When you started doing web shows, that platform was just starting to grow in India. What do you think of the way it has boomed?

Things have really changed! I remember, before Pitchers, doing this video called Every Bombay Girl In The World, which went viral. When I was doing that video and then Pitchers, a lot of people would ask me, why are you doing this, why are you getting into this web space? I would say, I’m doing this because it came to me and I found it interesting. Then with Pitchers, suddenly the industry sat up and took notice. It began to be talked about as an interesting format. And with Tripling they realised that it was also a money-making model. That’s when everybody suddenly started entering the space. Today, every TV channel has a digital platform. Right now, everybody just wants to get on the web.

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