Actor Manoj Joshi has been named among the Padma Shri awardees this year. Known for his Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi plays, Joshi has also acted in more than 60 films since his debut in 1998 in Sarfarosh.
A graduate of Sir JJ School of Art, Joshi began his career by appearing in plays and serials. Joshi played a small role in the 1990 television series Chanakya. Since then, Joshi has been portraying Chanakya in a play that has earned him several awards and widespread critical acclaim. Joshi also reprised this role in 2015 in the serial Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat.
“The best part about this play is the way it has been written. It’s very relevant even today,” Joshi said in an interview to The Hindu. “This play is a modest attempt to read those glorious pages from the past. Half of my life has been spent on this play. In between, I did about 107 films and numerous serials, but this play has found an audience because Chanakya [the character] is immortal and eternal.”
The actor’s leap into cinema was entirely accidental, born of a serendipitous encounter with John Matthew Matthan during the pre-production of the Aamir Khan-starrer Sarfarosh, in which he played the role of a cop. Joshi went on to appear in several Hindi films, including Devdas (2002), Hungama (2003), Dhoom (2004), Page 3 (2005), Vivah (2006), Guru (2007) and Billu (2008).
Although he is mostly typecast in comic roles, Joshi is particularly effective as the compassionate and loving father Devesh Solanki in Vinil Mathew’s Hasee toh Phasee (2014).
Since 1999, the actor has appeared in several popular Hindi television series such as Ek Mahal Ho Sapno Ka, Kabhi Souten Kabhi Saheli, Khichdi and the Marathi show Honaar Sun Mee Hya Gharchi. Joshi has also acted in Marathi films, such as Bharatiya (2012) and Narbachi Wadi (2013).
The actor was last seen on the screen in Sandeep Patil’s Marathi film Dashakriya (2017), an adaptation of Baba Bhand’s eponymous 1994 novel. Joshi won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Keshav, an unscrupulous and arrogant priest.
“I was happy to start my career with roles that demanded buffoonery, caricature and humour but eventually I was tired of being typecast,” Joshi had told The Hindu after winning the award for Dashakriya. “After this National Award, my responsibility to play good roles has further increased.”