Manasi Naik is one of the popular faces of the Marathi industry. She is known for her exquisite skills in dancing, and an enigmatic on-screen presence. Her work has been much appreciated by critics and audiences alike. The soft-spoken actress has been part of popular serials like “Chaar Divas Sasuche” and “Chala Hawa Yeu Dya”. This doe-eyed beauty is often called the doppelganger of the beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bachchan by her fans. Manasi has also been part of successful movies like “Carry on Deshpande”, “Murder Mestri”, and other films. Her performance on the song Bahgtoi Rikshawala had thrust her in the limelight, where she reigns unopposed. She is also a cat mom and an avid pet lover Manasi shares her journey from being a commoner to superstardom with The Voice of Woman. What inspired you to take acting as a career? Frankly speaking, and it might be surprising, nothing, in particular, inspired me. Since I don’t come from a filmy background nor my parents had any association with the film fraternity, I had no such inspiration in front of me. The moment that I understood and had a talk with myself that I had to make use of the talent that has been bestowed upon me by the Almighty. I just wanted to make my parents proud. What I have is completely natural and I feel that I am still learning the craft. I feel blessed with every opportunity that I get to be in front of the camera and showcase my talent- whether acting or dancing. I thank god and my parents for supporting me in this. How did you get your first break in the acting industry? I am fortunate because I got my first break on the small screen and big screen simultaneously. I was exposed to both the platforms and they have been equally lucky for me. My debut film was “Zabardast” and on the small screen it was “Chaar Divas Sasuche”. As Nupur in “Zabardast” and Priyanka in “Chaar Divas Sasuche”- I have relived both these characters every now and then till date and both are close to my heart. I am very emotional and sensitive to both these projects. The crew of both these projects have always supported me. Both production houses were big and the projects were massive. I am very lucky to have collaborated with them in the first place and I got the right break for my debut. What challenges did you face initially in your career? Are there any challenges that you still face in the acting industry? Challenges are part of life. I come from an academic background, my father is a retired scientist and my mother a retired auditor. I myself am a science student, who knew all the formulas and experiments. So, I know the formula of how to reach the zenith. My challenge started in my home. I am an outsider from a non-filmy upbringing, hailing from Pune. Surviving as an artist is not easy. In this industry, you have to struggle a lot- there is a lot of mental pressure, and physical exertion as you have to travel to places and meet new people. Stress and strain are your two best friends. Luck also plays a part, but your hard work is what is counted the most. I believe that if you work hard, you can achieve success. I faced a lot of failures, my actual struggle started once I became a star. It was not that I was a star, and I could take it easy and be assured that I would get a project by being laid back. But that doesn’t happen and that was a huge lesson. I never had to give an audition because till date I have always been part of the Marathi industry. I have not yet made a debut in Hindi or any other language. But then again every day is a challenge and I am a hard-working girl. My work is going to talk on my behalf! You are known for your exquisite dancing skills. Are you a trained dancer? I am not a trained dancer, it is purely god’s gift to me. When I was a kid, I used to watch Madhuri Dixit dancing on the TV. “Tezaab” was the first movie I saw in the theatre and Ek Do Teen was the dance that I was a fan of. Later, it was Aishwary Rai of whom I became a huge fan. I love the works of Kangana Ranaut, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, and Anushka Sharma. These talented actresses inspire me. I used to watch the performance by veteran artists and emulate them in front of the camera and I still do that. I think dance is what has helped me to act. I worship my dance and it is my medicine. I dance whether I am happy or sad. I am still learning the various nuances of dancing. I am not biased towards any particular form of dancing. Dance when everyone is watching, so that you can teach them how it is done. The cruelty against stray animals and wild animals are getting out of hand, which is really heartbreaking. What should we do to stop this vicious nature of humans? Humanity and animal cruelty is very much balanced in today’s time. Whatever happened in Kerala, there have been a lot of videos that were forwarded on Facebook, Whatsapp, and Tweeted about. A lot of NGOs and people are working for their betterment. But is that enough? Personally, I feel humanity needs a knock on the door. Animals are attacked because they are helpless, as they don’t have any senses like us. They don’t have the ability to protest, so I believe animals being attacked are as worse as humans attacking humans. I am completely against animal cruelty. Since my childhood, my maternal grandfather was a director of Animal Husbandry, and I was in close connection with animals. When I was in college, I was always trying to help stray animals- cats, dogs, pigeons, and crows. If you work at an individual level and rely on people with a similar mindset, it would help. We have seen being butchered and animal testing is quite common in the cosmetic industry. But you would have to raise your voice and take a stand for these animals. As Manasi, I will raise my voice for whichever animal gets hurt. Few people are insensitive and you have to make them understand that. There are two sides of a coin, the good people balance the bad people. I am myself a cat mom, mother to 15 cats and a parrot, so I know the feelings of a pet owner or animal lover. I want to request everyone that you need to think twice before doing anything wrong against these furry family members. In the end, every small effort is counted, and if I get a chance, I will always be there for animals, no matter what! We often see people bring pets home, but some rarely take proper care of them, abandoning the pets later. What would you like to say in this regard? I am a cat mom, and whenever I hear that people out of their selfish needs pet animals like Turtles, cats, dogs, fish, parrots, and even pigeons for that matter. When they aren’t able to take care of them and abandon them. You often find kittens and puppies in boxes along the roadside mercilessly. It’s very hard for me and other pet lovers. I don’t appreciate humans behaving like that. I would request everyone that please do not do this. If you can’t take care of an animal please do not pet them. The entire situation is dirty and ugly. You have to understand that these animals aren’t able to survive in their new surroundings. People are unaware and you have to be humane to not do this to them. But again there are some people who take utmost care of their animals and I really appreciate them and would love to say “Thank You”! We have destroyed and are still destroying many animal habitats in nature for our benefit. Protesting for such causes nowadays seems futile. What are your thoughts in this case? Yes, we have destroyed and are still destroying animal habitats in nature. We do all this for our own interest and politics. There is a huge difference between human being and being human. People do not understand the difference and this is why we are destroying the habitats. People should have mercy. What is happening now is happening on a large scale but it has been happening since forever. Today, you can see people fulfilling their selfish needs by cutting down trees and killing animals for food and shelter. It is also being used in the cosmetic industry, fashion industry, sports utilities, and scientific advancement. There are people who are raising their voice against such heinous activities. I appreciate such people, that there are good people alive, who are doing their part. I will always do my part and will always extend my help. If I can change 10 minds, and maybe they will further change another 10. It is like a chain reaction. There are people who are standing up for animal rights and I am going to be with them no matter what. Being in the entertainment industry, do you sometimes feel pressured to stay in shape? I do feel extremely pressurised that I have to stay in shape. But that’s an onus of being part of the entertainment industry. The people have to see you first and people tend to fall in love with your appearance first and then your talent. I have a sweet tooth, so sometimes I end up eating, cakes, pastries, or chocolates, and I feel conscious about the amount I have eaten, and try to supplement it with veggies and drinking plenty of water. I love my Dominoe’s cheese burst pizza and burgers. A balanced diet is eating everything in an adequate amount and not starving, but people often fail to understand that. To see young girls who aspire to show off their collar bone, and have a flat stomach, and smaller breast size, but that’s not beauty. Indian beauty is being curvy and I have always been curvy. I love being in my own skin and I flaunt it! I don’t want to be pressurised but rather live a fulfilling life. I don’t want to starve to death but eat everything in moderate quantities. No one should starve themselves for a particular size. Runway models have a completely different lifestyle from actresses. For actresses, we have to modify our body as per the requirement of a character. Actors are required to look perfect from every camera angle but that’s next to impossible since nobody can be perfect! Nowadays, beauty is associated with your size, if you are skinny then you are beautiful, and that’s pathetic. Those who are on the larger side are cast aside and pressurised into being thin. At one point people would constantly ask me “Why have you put on weight?”. If I am not healthy then I won’t be able to work. What motivates you in life? What motivates me in life is the fact that there is a lot that needs to be done in life. Every morning I am grateful to God for giving me another day. It is important to be thankful to the almighty and parents and try to do as many good deeds as possible. These are the small things that inspire me. I am not someone who is desperate to prove her talent. I know for sure that I will get a platform where I can showcase the talent that God has blessed me with. People will see the talent and x-factor no matter what. People will talk about you no matter what- whether you do something good or bad. Stop giving free food to people who do not deserve it. I am a very helpful, caring, and loving person. Every day, I spend time with my parents and pets, trying to take part in household chores. I always try to keep my life balanced. I know I know that I’m beautiful and I have talent, thus, I know where and how to struggle. There is no need to struggle in front of the wrong people. There are a lot of bad souls, who are into a barter system, who ask for something in return for opportunities. The industry was never like this, it’s the people who have made it like this. If you are good then be like this, you don’t need to be bad for someone else. Always prioritise your parents. Don’t choose materialistic things over these two people who have brought you up. My parents are the ones who inspire me. It is important to live life as that teaches you a lot of things. I stay away from materialistic things. I will always remain grounded and keep working hard. In the end, it all depends on what you give that is what you get back in return. What is your idea of a perfect life? Perfection doesn’t exist. Leading a natural and healthy life with my family is what I strive for. I want to face challenges as and when things come to me and take my last breath naturally. Mujhe Jee ke Zindagi bitana hai, maar maar ke nahi… I want to be alive every day, and not live in the fear of death. Yes, I am a star and a recognisable figure, and it is important to appreciate this blessing. Fans are the main reason that we exist as an artist. As Manasi Naik, I always keep my fans foremost. My life revolves around lights, camera, and my art and my team. Having the right attitude at the right moment is important. Some people are in the misconception that I have tantrums but if artists don’t have a certain attitude then they are often taken for granted. It is the demand of this industry to have an attitude. But you need to have the right attitude in the correct direction. Wrong attitude or overconfidence kills you. Nowadays, the occurrence of depression in young adults, be it in the industry or in general has become common. How should we fight depression according to you? During my school days, I have never heard of the term “depression”. Can anyone really define depression? The depression is actually hypothetical. Youngsters get into depression if parents scold them or their relationships don’t work or have monetary issues. So, it’s difficult to fathom what causes depression. During this COVID induced lockdown, people had to walk for miles to go home and had to survive on the road. But they didn’t go into a state of depression and gave up on life. Nowadays, life has become such that at the dinner table everyone is engrossed in their mobiles. Families don’t talk and enquire about each other. Kids of this generation are often ashamed of their parents and don’t want them to interact with their friends. But I am not like that. What is the purpose of such education- is it only to earn money? There are students who often leave their hometown and go to big cities and settle there, and become addicted to drugs, alcohols, and other vices. Everything these days are so easily available, that you take everything for granted, and this makes you revolt against your parents. This is what leads to depression and anxiety. Remember, our parents haven’t taught us this. People give up on their life easily and threaten each other. This is very ugly and it is not our culture. There is a lot of diversity in India, but recollect the values that we Indians are known for. I too wear short clothes for my films as it is the need of the script but I don’t wear it just to show off my thighs and cleavage, and to flaunt my body for the sake of attention. There is a huge difference between being slutty and respectable. I always take a stand against any kind of disrespectful behaviour, and especially against women. I am a human first and then an artist. I never give up just because of what people will think. I never fear controversies because I know I am right. There are a lot of girls out there with a similar mindset but they aren’t able to voice it. What message would you like to share through the Voice of Woman? It has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to share the real me through this wonderful platform of The Voice of Woman. It is really amazing how you are helping everyone out there. If you are a woman don’t apologise for being beautiful. If you take a stand against something wrong, then remember you are taking a stand for all those who are helpless. Don’t be afraid or scared! It is a world where we all need to look after each other. I was always there for you, I am here for you, and will always be there for you. Lots of love!