Mahesh Manjrekar makes a comeback as an actor

Apr 25, 2008 Subhash K Jha

Mumbai, April 26 (IANS) Mahesh Manjrekar's career as a director has suffered some serious setbacks in recent times. But there has been an inverse boom in his career as an actor, with filmmaker Sanjay Gupta's "Pankh" set to feature him.

"I gave Mahesh Manjrekar pivotal roles in my 'Kaante' and 'Musafir'. I think he's a really good actor. And if one has to choose between Mahesh Manjrekar the actor and the director I'd go for the former," Gupta told IANS.

After playing a gangster in the Telugu film "Okkadunadu" earlier this year, Manjrekar is being resurrected as an actor by Gupta, who gave him two of his biggest breaks as an actor.

"He plays one of the leads in our production 'Pankh' with Bipasha Basu and Lilette Dubey. The film is complete. I also directed him in one of the stories in my 'Dus Kahaniyan'. The story was called 'Strangers In The Night'. It was a beautiful story featuring Mahesh and Neha Dhupia as husband and wife," he added.

Manjrekar, who started his career as an actor in Marathi theatre, hasn't had a directorial release since "Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi" and "Viruddh" in 2005. The former, a sci-fi kiddies film with Manjrekar's best friend Sanjay Dutt playing a modern day Yamraj (death of god), was a washout.

With "Viruddh", Manjrekar had promised to turn a new leaf as a director. Though well intended, it was a box office disappointment in spite of the AB Corp Ltd badge.

A close friend of Manjrekar said: "Mahesh went mad. After 'Vaastav' he signed any film that came his way. Overwork and too little focus finished off his career."

Three of his ready-for-release directorial undertakings - 'Deha', 'It Was Raining That Night' and 'Struggler' - are in the cans for want of buyers. 'Deha' features Jaya Prada and Dino Morea as mismatched lovers. 'It Was Raining That Night' is Manjrekar's English language take on his classic study of marital guilt, 'Astitva', with Sushmita Sen in Tabu's role. 'Struggler' is a one-actor satire with Manjrekar cast as a wannabe who wants to meet Amitabh Bachchan.

The Big B made a guest appearance at the end of this experimental film that Manjrekar hoped to take to Cannes. Alas! It ended up only in the cans.

Manjrekar, who has become a recluse after his divorce, doesn't even meet his best buddy Sanjay Dutt any longer.

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