Mansi Multani is an actor, singer and songwriter. Her stage career spans over 600 shows. She is best known for playing Olivia in the award-winning Piya Behrupiya, Atul Kumar’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which opened at the Globe Theatre for The London Cultural Olympics in 2012, and has since travelled the world crossing 200 shows, playing with subtitles in English, Mandarin, French and Spanish. Other notable work includes Sunil Shanbag’s musical Stories in a Song, the choral and movement work Lullaby Stranger directed by Sujay Saple and Salome Rebello, and Rajat Kapoor’s clown Shakespeare adaptations What’s Done is Done and Hamlet – The Clown Prince. Her film work includes Bernd Lutzeler’s Camera Threat, which premiered at the 67th Berlinale Film Festival in 2017, for which she both worked as a lead actor and co-writer, Prosit Roy’s Pari, a musical performance in Chaitanya Tamhane’s highly lauded film Court and a lead role in Rajat Kapoor’s Kadakh. She is also well known for her sketch comedies with AIB, EIC and others, and as a singer songwriter, having performed across Mumbai. She has been featured in publications such as The Guardian, Verve, Open, Vancouver’s Georgia Straight, and The Quint, among others. Most recently, she portrayed the role of Pimmi in the stage musical Monsoon Wedding, directed by Mira Nair and Nikhil Mehta.
Mansi, you have been a part of 600+ shows all around the world and that’s like a lot. Do you ever feel that at one point of time, you might get exhausted with respect to character variations?
Well, I can’t wait for a time when that actually happens. That would be like so amazing. I don’t know whether that day will come or not. But I would love to.
Mansi, what according to you is the difference between western plays and the theatre scenario in India?
The script is very essential. If it’s an Indian script with an Indian story, the sensibilities need to take care of the Indian culture and how the stage has to be authentic to what the story is about. Sometimes, the requirement might be such that if you have a script with a universal appeal, you can do it even in the Indian ‘nautanki’ form or something like that. But for example for a play like ‘Constellations’, I think it was important for us to keep the names same and not make it too ‘Indian’. Ultimately, both forms have their existence and space and that’s what is important.
At what age did you start acting?
I started very young. I started during primary school and did it in Delhi. Then, I moved to Bangalore where I didn’t do that much theatre because it was a non-competitive school and we didn’t have inter-college competition and stuff. But I got back to it in college again. I never thought I would be an actor. I never went to any acting school. Whatever I learnt, I learnt while performing.
How do you think that the web/film audience can be driven more towards theatre?
Well, I feel a lot of people who watch films or web are into theatre too. But it has a lot to do with how our generation has become. We have become very closeted. We want everything near us. That’s why even people don’t go much to the cinemas that often. They feel like ‘Aree kuch din baad Netflix ya Amazon mein dekh lenge’ etc. So we as a generation want everything near us. Obviously you would also need the same kind of pr and marketing to boost that. But otherwise it’s doing fine in its niche.
Lastly, what was the driving point for you when it comes to picking Constellations?
Well, I am just hungry for good work. Honestly, I am not at that stage of my career yet where I can be really picky and choosy. So that goes out of the equation. I usually read everything. I perhaps might not do ‘Saans Bahu’ television because I don’t believe in it and hence I didn’t do that. When it comes to theatre, I am hungry for anything. As far as this play is considered, I do believe in parallel universe. This play talks about a lot of things which I believe in. Things like the multiverse, string theory and many more. So I really believe in it. It reaffirms a lot of clichés for me and I am really happy with this.