Sporting chance

Sporting chance

From lord of death Yam to the genial king Krishnadeva Raya, Manav Gohil is now into the wrestling ring to charm his viewers, writes Shilpi Madan

SPIRITED Manav Gohil

It is 8 am and actor Manav Gohil is already commencing his shoot for the next episode of his latest show Kesari Nandan (on Colors TV) where he plays the custom-bound wrestler-father to his little daughter Kesari, who aspires to follow her father’s footsteps in the future.

Barely launched, the serial is already netting in smashing TRPs with gusto, with biopics (namely Dangal, Mary Kom, Bhaag Milka Bhaag...) being the flavour of the season in Bollywood as well. Of course, Manav is on an enviable high with the wrestling drama following in the wake of the success of his recent serials Yam Hai Hum (a situational comedy where he played the lead role of the lord of death — a job well done, hilariously) and Tenali Rama (where he espouses the genial king Krishnadeva Raya).

“I have had to undergo extensive training with a national coach in the sport to ready myself for the role of a wrestler in Kesari Nandan,” he shares with his signature smile. The result is absolutely flabbergasting, with Manav’s chiselled physique on air for viewers to marvel at and possibly encourage more Indians to pursue sports. Though it was undoubtedly an extremely challenging act, he pulled it off with much aplomb. “Training for two hours everyday at the ramparts of Sports Authority of India in suburban Mumbai was a must and part of my daily schedule. I also had to follow a stringent diet to bulk up for the role and build up the desired muscle tone. Add to that the gruelling shoot schedules. It has been a big balancing act for me, but absolutely worth it in my opinion,” he confesses.

Out of comfort zone

“Looking back, it has been an enervating experience for me as it has pulled me out of my comfort zone and drawn me into doing something new. That was what enticed me to sign on the serial. But what I realised in the process was that we lack the facilities necessary to prop up our players in the arena of sports. I feel the government should privatise this segment by offering better amenities to our players.” Having played cricket and football during his school days also helped Manav tremendously in building the sinew needed for Kesari Nandan.

Turning over a new leaf

Manav is a doting dad who loves to make time for his six-year-old daughter Zahra Tabitha. “We do a video call at least once a day and chat to spend time with each other,” says the handsome star, who is cued into Tabby’s daily schedule. “When I am not shooting, I make it a point to drop her off to school in the morning as that is my exclusive time with her. Those 15 minutes are vital,” he says. “In fact, when I get home from my shoots and Tabby is there, even my wife Shweta (Kawatra) is not allowed to touch me!” he laughs.

“I always wanted a daughter, and god has been kind to me in more ways than one,” he says, admitting that having a little princess has tweaked his perspectives in more ways than one. “Since I work a lot with child artistes, I make sure they are comfortable before any scene requiring me to pick them up. I feel they need to know, they need to be asked. I can’t explain it but after having a daughter myself, this extra dimension, added sensitivity and concern has seeped into my attitude. I feel my entire attitude towards life has changed.” A beautiful reflection and something that adds further to Manav’s existing charisma and charm.