EXCLUSIVE: Maanvi Gagroo - Casting couch does exist; but after spending time in the industry you do understand the 'red flags'

Maanvi Gagroo gets candid with Pinkvilla about the relevance of web series, casting couch and much more.
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Maanvi Gagroo started her journey with Dhoom Machaao Dhoom in 2007 and has now made a name for herself in the industry, thanks to her characters like Chanchal in TVF Tripling and Shreya in Pitchers. Ask her how has her journey been? She told us, "It has been interesting as I had no knowledge about the industry. When I came, I didn't know how things used to work, but I can say that I have learnt a lot. I still haven't touched the tip of an iceberg and no two days in the industry are the same. There are some days that you just look at the ceiling. It has been a learning experience so far." 
Elaborating on her starting days, Maanvi said,  "It was hard for sure. I was in college when I did Dhoom Machao Dhoom and I didn't think of it as a career option back them. I went back and then I got a film. The biggest problem in the industry is that you will get different set of advises - there will be people guiding you through - do this and do that. There will be someone who will give opposite advice - you should do TV and and someone else will say don't do TV. The biggest challenge here is that whom you should listen to."
Ten minutes into the conversation, the conversation from her challenges shifted to how body shaming has seeped into our culture and the industry. Did she face any such situation in her career? She told us, "The only problem I felt was that I played that bubbly sort of characters in my first two projects and then I got similar sort of roles. But, I got lucky with Pitchers as I played a normal girl that everyone could relate to. My character Shreya is like you and me. I wasn't typical that Punjabi bubbly girl or Geet from Jab We Met. The game changed for me and then people started taking me seriously."
Talking about the current trends, Maanvi said, "I think it's changing and if you see the condition none of the bigger films are working. It has become a pattern that it's either about looks or people who already have stardom. It's not really based on talent. Right now, good content work has been received well and it's all about the script. It's important to look good as it's a visual medium but how do you define good is all that matters. Usually everyone starts with the physical description, but for Shreya - it never happened. She could have been dark, skinny, tall or chubby. If the characters are written in a way that you need a hot woman who can pull off a bikini well. Characters do changed - you have to gain or lose weight but unfortunately such characters are not written for women. Hopefully, it's changing." 
With her role in Tripling, people started knowing Maanvi. We asked her did things change post Tripling, to which she said,  "People speak to me with much more respect now. They will text me first. In our industry, unfortunately, people respect when you are above them and it can only come through work. In terms of roles being offered, there has been a positive change. Now, they at least listen to things I say in terms of improving the character as earlier they didn't even acknowledge. They are more receptive to it. They are no accepting my opinion."
Next question in the pipeline was how was it working with Sumeet Vyas? Well, the actor was elated and told us, "Sumeet and Amol - I knew them from before. Sumeet has in fact directed both of us in a play. I was really looking forward to working with him. As he is senior in the industry, I always had brotherly vibe. It was great fun. When I read about the script, I found it funny and I was like I have to do it. The language of the web-series is quite relatable. Before the show, I even told my sister that let's go for a road trip. The concept was so fresh and this sounded so exciting."
As she hails from Delhi and had no connection in the industry, was it challenging for her to convince her parents for acting? Well, then her answer is - "We come from a family who have no connection in the acting field, but then Disney people convinced my parents. My parents were like paagal ho gayi hai ladki as I was a good student and they were like itni padai ki hai. I had taken Science with Maths and Biology. First, they were upset with the fact that I took psychology and now acting. But, they were supportive in a way that they told me to go and try. My dad had told me one thing before I shifted to acting that the industry is bad and back then, I thought he was hinting at casting couch. But, he meant that there was so many rejection and it isn't that easy and people will criticize for the smallest things. Now, I realize what my dad has said something which is true."
The conversation became intense here and we paused to ask her if she has faced casting couch ever. To this, she replied very politely and even gave some pointers which will help the newbies to not fall in the trap. 
She told us, "It does happen and but after spending time in the industry, you do understand the 'red flags' and what is wrong and what is right. The good thing is that it's never forced on you and you can always NO, but the problem is that girls fall for it. I feel it's important to say no. With me, I always had that security from my family that I never reached to the stage of helplessness. I always had the option of going back and get a job as I was qualified. More than casting couch, you have more fraud people in a way that you just have to pay this much and you will get the role. It's all bogus. If people say that wear something sexy at night, you should understand that it's alarming. But, thanks to the social media things have changed." 
Talking about social media, we asked her as the web series have become the 'it' thing, how does she take it as? The actor said, "It has covered that gap. We never watch serials like Naagin as we would choose international series like Friends. So, I think that web series have catered to that section. People in our generation will opt for web series. This format has now become popular and the good thing is that new directors, actors with craft are getting to making web series. In terms of budget, it's easier." 
Well said, Maanvi!
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