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Manav Vij goes all guns blazing as the lead in the SonyLIV series Tanaav

Tanaav is an Indian adaptation of the Israeli TV series Fauda, and is directed by Sudhir Mishra and Sachin Krishn

Ratnalekha Mazumdar Calcutta Published 16.11.22, 03:02 PM
Manav Vij in a still from Tanaav, on SonyLIV.

Manav Vij in a still from Tanaav, on SonyLIV. Instagram

Manav Vij has done small but significant roles in multiple films before landing the lead in SonyLIV’s Tanaav, an adaptation of the much-acclaimed Israeli TV series Fauda by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff.

Set in the Kashmir Valley of 2017 and directed by Sudhir Mishra and Sachin Krishn, Tanaav is a socio-political drama around the conflict between the state-run Special Task Group (STG) and insurgents. Manav, who made a mark with his stints in Udta Punjab, Andhadhun, Laal Kaptan and Gunjan Saxena, spoke to The Telegraph Online on his first lead role in his first-ever OTT outing.


You emote through your eyes a lot to play Kabir Farooqui in Tanaav

Manav Vij: Yes, a lot has been conveyed by the eyes. Kabir Farooqui is imperfect and emotional. He is passionate about his work. He has 20 layers to his complex character. Then, there is chaos in his personal life as well. I had to gain weight and do action scenes to get my muscle memory correct. Kabir is imperfectly beautiful.

Do you feel Tanaav will make the Indian audience think?

Manav Vij: I will be glad if people start thinking. Though, it’s a story to entertain. It’s been sensibly made, showing two sides of the same story. Tanaav correctly portrays what is dark and why it is so. It’s not that dark people don’t have problems in life. One should be politically aware. We have so many religions and thought processes in India. We should be aware so that we make fewer mistakes.

You have been working for many years on many significant projects. Is Tanaav special as you play the lead?

Manav Vij: Every character that I have played is special because that has put food on my table, and it was my necessity then. When I look back and think about my smallest roles, it was very important when I did those, so I can’t forget it. Some roles were gratifying, and the appreciation kept me going. Tanaav is special because I play my first-ever lead role and it’s my first OTT outing. The faith the team had in me was more than what I had in myself. I have never attempted so many layers in a longer script, so it was taxing but a great experience.

OTT platforms are coming up with shows that have good actors in the lead instead of bigger names with star value. It wasn’t possible even a few years ago, right?

Manav Vij: I am glad this is happening. I am glad that actors are seen in a different light now. Actors are cast as per the requirement of the role. Regional actors, especially in the eastern part of India, are doing great work. But OTT platforms have to do the right content and make better content, as it’s a powerful platform, so people start copying. A lot of people are making crappy content.

Do complex characters impact your personal life?

Manav Vij: Yeah, it sometimes puts pressure on your real life. You start to carry it home. I have people at home who beat me and take me out of it. (Laughs)

How was it shooting with a bevy of talented actors in Tanaav?

Manav Vij: It’s not just for the sake of saying, but we were like a family. We connected and bonded. Nobody demeaned anyone. Everybody uplifted each other, which rarely happens. All cast members were on the same page. Till today, we are concerned for each other. Shashank Arora, Arbaaz Khan, Rajat Kapoor, Rocky Raina and I meet every three to four weeks for lunch or dinner.

Do you remember your thoughts when you first binged Fauda?

Manav Vij: I saw it two years ago. I loved the writing, but I had no idea that I would be offered the lead role in the Indian adaptation.

What are your favourite Indian shows in a similar space?

Manav Vij: I watch a lot of shows to keep me updated as an actor. It’s involuntary learning for me. I loved Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Rocket Boys, Tabbar, Delhi Crime and Jamtara.

What else is keeping you busy?

Manav Vij: I have a show with Viacom by the same makers who created Jamtara (Netflix). It’s a murder mystery; we have finished shooting and post-production is on. I will start shooting for E. Niwas’s show, produced by Applause Entertainment. I can’t do more than one show at a time. (Smiles) As far as films are concerned, I am reading scripts. If I pick something, I will start in February. I do Punjabi films but it’s difficult to find time now. It’s my mother tongue, so whenever I go to a Punjabi film set, it’s a lot of fun.

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