Whistling Woods Institute is fast supplying India’s entertainment industry with a fresh crop of talented film artistes each year. New among them is up-and-coming actor Anil Mange whose work in two recent comedies has already gotten him noticed. In Manoj Tiwari’s HELLO DARLING (2010) Anil plays Asish Singh Chaudhary the young love interest of beautiful Gul Panag, while in Sunny Bhambhani’s LOVE EXPRESS (2011) he essays the role of Sujaan Singh, the middle aged father of an unwilling bride. Anil proves outstanding in both films!
In addition to Bollywood features Anil has also kept busy in independent cinema, tackling a variety of roles in several soon to be released short and feature length films in which this “man of a thousand faces” is showing his versatility and grasp of characterizations.
As busy as Anil Mange is with acting and traveling (something of which he is particularly fond), he was nice enough to take the time to answer a few questions about his career, how he got his start, and where he hopes the future will take him.
MB: A bit about your background, please.
AM: I come from a business class family where the children are expected to take over the family business after completing their required education. Though I was born in a small town, Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh, I had an early dream to travel the world and explore as much as possible. I did my schooling from my home town and then moved to Pune, Maharashtra for my further education. I was raised by my parents, but I can say I was partly raised by my parents and partly by brother in Pune.
MB: When and how did your interest in acting developed?
AM: Everything I do is being passed on to me by my brother. I remember he used to bring comic books home. I never used to read the whole book but looked at the pictures for hours and tried to get into the character’s thinking, his feeling, sometimes dialogs. After that I used to go to an open field with my friends, creating stories and playing the parts till sunset. That was the time when somewhere back in my mind I knew where I was heading, but I still didn’t have clear idea of my final destination.
MB: As you were growing up were there any particular entertainers that inspired you?
AM: When I was kid I heard one name before I ever saw him, people call him God….king of pop…Michael Jackson. There are several other performers whom I love, but Michael Jackson was the first one :)
MB: You recently played a major role in the romantic comedy LOVE EXPRESS directed by Sunny Bhambhani.
AM: I played the character of Sujaan Singh, who is a father of the bride, a very sophisticated and family oriented man. Relationship means a lot to him, which can be seen in the friendship of Sujaan and his childhood friend Chadda. His only goal in the film is to make sure everything goes well in the marriage and that everyone is happy.
MB: Was it difficult to play a character who is so much older than you?
AM : Being born and brought up in Punjabi family, I have seen and observed people like Sujaan Singh. Half the work was done with makeup and beard, plus there was a lot of help from Sunny and Subhash-ji (Ghai) for creating the character, so the whole character was developed with everyone’s help. I am very thankful to Mr Subhash Ghai for trusting me with this character and it was his trust which has shown up on screen.
MB: The delightful actress Roobie played your wife in LOVE EXPRESS. What can you tell me about working with her?
AM: She is a gem of a person and opposite of what she played on screen. In real life she is very happy with everything around her, calm and composed, and very down to earth.
MB: How was your experience attending Whistling Woods Institute? What made you decide to go there?
AM: Since the beginning I was always fascinated by performing art schools, mostly seen in Hollywood films. When I was in Pune I used to order brochures of international music and film schools and dreamed of joining one, but I didn’t know that a brick of international standard film school had already been kept on Indian soil. When I came to know about Whistling Woods Institute, through a friend, I knew this was the place. I showed it to my brother and he said first to fill out the forms and then we will see about the fees, and after two months my dream of studying in an international school came true.
MB: Prior to LOVE EXPRESS you had appeared in the film HELLO DARLING.
AM: In HELLO DARLING I played an NRI sardar named Ashish who happens to be a boyfriend of Gul Panag. In the film, Ashish tries to convince his girl friend for marriage but due to work pressure and her over ambitious nature she says no.
MB: For this film you were actually picked to replace another performer, is that correct?
AM: I got to know about this after two days of my selection. I came out of my room and my friend who was reading the newspaper told me “Bro, you have replaced one actor”…otherwise no one in the production spoke to me about this and neither I dared to ask. So in the end it was just news through a newspaper.
MB: The Internet Movie Database lists you as appearing in a short film titled KALAPAANI last year. Can you tell me about that?
AM: KALAPAANI is a diploma project done in Whistling Woods Institute. A film based on the customary practices of the rural panchayats in Haryana.
MB: One of your latest projects is the intriguing short film STARING UPSTREAM directed by first-time film makerSidharth Mishra.
AM: STARING UPSTREAM is set in the late eighties, in an insignificant town in northern India. It tells the story of a marriage that suffers from guilt, loyalty, and sexual deprivation. On the day the husband decided to confess his criminal intentions against his marriage and his wife, we stand witness to the carnally starved lives of the couple. The character that I play, Viraj, deals with his guilt of almost committing a crime against his marriage which keeps him from displaying physical affection to his wife, Suman.
Suman, though clueless about her husband’s state of mind, deals with her own sexual cravings and her attempts at satisfying the guilt-ridden temptations. The film is about the ugly persistence of the “Institution of Marriage” in Indian society; the trauma and hysteria that accompany it.
MB: Thinking ahead to future film work, if you could play lead against any actress, who would it be?
AM: Oh God, there will be a long list but mentioning a few, I think Kareena Kapoor and Vidya Balan will be my first choices.
MB: And do you see yourself playing hero roles or character parts?
AM: Every actor in a movie is a character whether it is hero or a cameo role, but yes I see myself as a lead actor in coming years, and want to do some realistic and meaningful cinema.
MB: Would you find negative roles to be something that you would enjoy doing?
AM: I enjoy doing negative roles too because it gives you an authority to go against the rules and regulations which, in reality, is not possible for a guy like me! And for sure there is a certain power which a negative character enjoys over positive characters, and you get a chance to show your wild side.
MB: I understand you just finished working on a feature film titled MYOHO.
AM: MYOHO means mystic law; what goes around comes around. I am playing a double role in this film and the rest will be seen when the film releases this summer.
MB: Do you have any other projects in the works?
AM: Apart from MYOHO there are a couple of other films which will release this year. One is being shot by Vishram Sawant, who made the films D (2005) and RISK (2007). Others are under production, including one international project.
MB: Is your plan to work in Hindi films only, or would you also like to work in Punjabi or other regional films?
AM: I haven’t restricted myself, especially at this very early stage of my career. I want to explore as much as possible. So, as of now I am open to offbeat cinema, commercial, as well as other language films. If they really excite me, I’ll do them.
MB: Who would you consider to be your biggest supporters?
AM : I think I am really lucky as far as support is concerned and I have got this from the very beginning of Whistling Woods Institute days …from my brother to all my faculty members, all my senior, junior and my classmates. I am really thankful for all the good wishes and great amount of love I’ve received.
A big thanks to Anil Mange for chatting and here’s wishing you all the best in your life and career!
To get a glimpse of his work you can check out Anil’s show reel here:
… and if you’d like to see Anil groove to one of my favorite songs – Band Baja from HELLO DARLING – (Anil, you totally rock this!!) just check this out!!