It was a pleasant surprise when this actor from Assam was spotted in the much awaited series ‘Sacred Games’ on Netflix. The season premiered on July 6 and it’s only then that we got to know Monuj Borkotoky, hailing from Sivasagar, appears alongside Saif Ali Khan and Radhika Apte in a small but significant role-big enough to offer a glimpse into his acting prowess! The series also stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and reviews say ‘Sacred Games’ just might be his ‘Narcos’.
A regular on Crime Patrol, Monuj has struggled his way up the ladder making sure he learns every aspect of film-making and theatre along the way. He will soon be seen on the silver screen as three of his Assamese films are ready to release this year.
He still believes he is a ‘struggler’. And he tells every other struggling actor he meets to have patience and believe in themselves using this line he’d read somewhere: “Aap subhe sooke sapne pure kar lo ya jaagke kar lo, dono tarah sapne pure hotein hai, ab aap tay kar lo ki aapko kis tarah sapne pure karne hai”. Beautiful lines indeed!
TIME8 caught up with this utterly gentlemanly actor and here are excerpts from the conversation:
T8: How did Sacred Games happen? Tell us about the experience!
Monuj: Sashi Beniwal from Mukesh Chabbra casting company called me for an audition. I did it. And that’s how Sacred Games happened.
It was enriching. Vikramaditya Motwani directed my part. After watching ‘Udaan’ he was always on my wishlist of directors. He allows his actors to perform and then he curves it the way he wants. And Radhika Apte is my favorite among the current lot of actors! Also, I’ve worked with Saif Ali Khan in a TVC before. So it was fun working with them(smiles).
T8: You’ve shot for a few movies in the past couple of years, commercial as well as movies like ‘Ishu’. Tell us about the releases that are now lined up as well as the other projects you are involved with.
Monuj: I have three upcoming Assamese films, two of which ‘Seema…The Story Untold’ and ‘Kokaideu Bindaas’ are ready to release this year. Third is ‘Ishu’ which received ‘The Best Assamese film’ award in the 65th National Awards this year. So I am really looking forward to it.
Apart from that my fourth directorial venture ‘Daai’ (short film) is in it’s final stage of post production. I am also working with the episodic TV serial ‘Crime Patrol’ on a regular basis.
T8: You were into casting earlier and you’ve done a variety of jobs related to film-making. You’ve been through your bit of the ‘struggle’ that every actor goes through…tell us about that phase.
Monuj: Yeah I started my journey in Mumbai as an Assistant director. I have Assisted Ad filmmaker Parikshit Vaidya for two years. And then somehow I got into casting as well! Actually I worked in almost every aspect of filmmaking for the sake of survival in the city of dreams during my initial years. And eventually I got into voice overs and started focusing and giving maximum time to my acting.
T8: You have been involved in plays and theatre since a long time now. Tell us about your journey on-stage so far.
Monuj: I started my acting journey at a very early age, in theatre. I’ve worked with eminent theatre personalities of Assam. When I shifted to Mumbai, I carried my journey forward in theatre. Alongwith working as an asst. for TVC’s I joined Ashok Purang Sir’s Theatre group who actually helped me in correcting and learning diction, in Hindi and Urdu. And gradually this led to a lot of other associations with various other theatre groups and performances. Hamlet, Astoraag, Abhijanam, Baba Sheikh Chill, Gandhi Ne kaha tha, Entropy and Licence are some of my memorable plays. Currently I am working on my new Theatre Production “Black Board” which I am directing and co-writing.
T8: Which platform do you find the most exciting?
Monuj: All are equally exciting. Each medium has it’s own individuality and reach. I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work in all the mediums including Radio!
T8: Future plans?
Monuj: I believe in doing…in working hard. So whatever good opportunity comes along my way I shall grab it!