Lessons in laughter

Lessons in laughter

in conversation

Lessons in laughter

He looks dapper in his three-piece suits in each of his telly outings. Natty, chatty and bratty. Compere and TV show host Manish Paul is the man of the hour, with two films Katha and Tere Bin Laden 2, hovering on the brink of release.

“People always ask me, why a three piece suit?” and I wonder what is the point of wearing a formal suit unless it is a three piece,” says Manish with a straight face. He is the guy who has livened up proceedings as the compere consistently on Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa Season 6, Dance India Dance Li’l Masters, and scores of award shows, adding that extra, vital, fun dimension to the proceedings on the telly.

The real drama

So how much of it is scripted? “Only 20 per cent,” shares Manish. “Everything, including flirting with Madhuri Dixit, the pallu jokes, the one-liners with Karan Johar... happens on the spot. It is totally impromptu, I improvise a lot and go along with the flow, keeping my comic bone in sync with the comfort level of the celebrity.” Of course, for Manish, joking around with superstars on the small screen is an everyday affair.

Back to the movies. He starred in Mickey Virus a couple of years ago, making his debut on the silver screen. Now he is ready with Katha, where he reprises the late veteran actor Farooque Sheikh’s role in the Sai Paranjpe classic that also starred veterans like Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah in its original format. The remake has been directed by filmmaker Khalid Mohammed. “I’m nervous, excited, happy!” he says. Then there is more. Manish comes to the fore again in the sequel to the previous comedy, with Tere Bin Laden 2. A crazy spiel centred around the dreaded international terrorist. A virtual laugh riot.

For the young man from Delhi, who spent days moving around in Andheri west, meeting prospects for work, it has been a tough climb till he got his first show on the telly. “God has been kind,” he says. “My wife, Sanyukta, and I simply keep buying things for our home, we feel God will make space for the stuff. He has. Today we have moved from a two bedroom apartment in Malad to a huge four bedroom home in Andheri. I count my blessings,” he says, cuddling his little four-year-old daughter Saisha. “We are emotionally welded together. Each time I leave on work, my daughter gets separation anxiety. There are times when I have got urgent calls from my wife when I have just boarded a plane that Saisha is down with high fever or a tummy ache. Those moments are horrible, and stress me out, till the time Saisha gets better,” he confesses, hugging the little one tighter till both of them burst into laughter.

It is a meeting of hearts, with Manish coming from a Punjabi background, and Sanyukta being a Bengali. Theirs is a love match crafted in heaven. After dating each other for a couple of years, they tied the knot. The decision went down well with their respective families as they knew each other. “Sanyukta always keeps me grounded, rooted to reality. She is my anchor,” says Manish honestly. “Else it is easy to get carried away with the glamour and fame that my profession brings with it.”

Luck by chance

Of course, he has had the chance to work with the iconic superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Prod him a bit and Manish responds excitedly, pulling out the metal tag with “786” etched on it. “I had this specially crafted by the people who make such metal tags professionally. Then when I met Mr Bachchan I asked him to autograph it especially for me. He did. It is my most precious keepsake. So much so that I am unwilling to give this for framing to anyone. I want someone to come home and frame this for me. It is that important to me,” shares Manish, like an excited child. His den at home is actually a tribute to cinema bulwarks including Mr Bachchan, Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. It is here that he loves breathing, living movies.

So now what? “I am working round the clock, making money!” he winks. “I am travelling aplenty, hosting shows and events across the world, participating in promotional activities for my movies. Am also looking forward to our annual family December break when we move out of India for a holiday.  Where we are going is undecided, as usual, till the last minute, but we will take off for sure!” he signs off with his signature smile.

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