He’s got the Mantra!

He’s got the Mantra!

The sky is the limit for actor Mantra when it comes to his performances on the silver screen, writes Shilpi Madan  

Mantra

He is an ace with a popular face across the silver screen, radio and the telly, and a favourite on the radar as a voiceover artiste, theatre artiste, a model, and a riveting anchor on stage. Mantra aka Puranjit Dasgupta is the flavour of the season, essaying the role of the rather villainous Najib-ud-Daulah in filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar’s recent magnum opus, Panipat.

Game changer

“Panipat has been a great learning experience for me,” says Mantra. “The schedule spanned over a year. My character Najib-ud-Daulah was the mastermind behind the iconic battle of Panipat, and I was asked by the director to play it out as deviously as I could. I had not played a character like this before on the big screen, and wanted to strike the right balance by pouring my energies in.” Mantra’s experience in the field of radio in particular held him in great stead. “It is all about the power of communication. Radio teaches you the power of expressing your emotions through your voice when you cannot be seen. Since acting is all about conveying emotions, essaying dialogues in the right vein is as important as body language and expressions,” explains Mantra. “Your voice then becomes a strong tool while playing your character. I feel it is my voice that does the trick for me.” Of course, Mantra’s years on the stage — he has performed in over 100 shows in London, Paris, Canada, US and beyond...of the popular play Piya Behrupiya ( a Hindi interpretation of playwright William Shakespeare’s famous play Twelfth Night) — and his award winning anchoring of his show on Radio titled ‘Mumbai Local’ lend him tremendous experience, too.

Mantra owns Mantramugdh Productions (that produced the short film Khatara recently), having dubbed the pivotal character of the Genie in the Indian version of the globally popular musical Aladdin, by Disney India. The turning point came in his career when he made a foray into radio, marking a departure from the field of hospitality after 20 long years. “Now I have become an entrepreneur with my own podcast channel MnM Talkies. I am enjoying it immensely — directing and producing India’s first binaural audio web series. People have mostly seen me do comedy till now and while I enjoy it, I do not like being compartmentalised into a single space. I think it is a double-edged sword when an actor gets typecast: At one end he gets to work in the kind of roles people are used to seeing him in, and at the same time filmmakers avoid casting him in different roles. With Panipat, I have successfully shed my typecast and I am very satisfied.” With reason enough,as his previous outings on the silver screen include, Tum Mile, Game, Bheja Fry, Hum tum Shabana....Now Mantra is looking at delving deeper into character driven roles.

Being realistic

“The banner does not matter to me, the strength of my role does. I need to keep growing as an artiste. From a Rajat Kapoor’s Aankho Dekhi to a Kamal Hassan’s Abhay, from realistic cinema to fantasy, I am raring to experiment with roles,” shares Mantra.

What message does he have for all those who aspire to be in his shoes? “Always be prepared to take on challenges in life. Keep reinventing as when the stage changes, so does the performer. Lastly, the anthem I always live by is “suno sab ki, karo man ki (listen to everyone but eventually do what your own heart advises you to do).” Prudent and precise is clearly Mantra!

 

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