Delivering a role like Genie is difficult, but I knew I'd be successful: Mantra

From the very moment he comes out of the lamp, Mantra takes the musical to newer heights. His experience of a skilled performer shines in Disney’s Aladdin. In an exclusive interview, he shares a lot about this musical produced by BookMyShow

  • Delivering a role like Genie is difficult, but I knew I'd be successful: Mantra

Somewhere between the play, Aladdin finds a lamp, in a mission planned by Jaffar and Iago. He rubs the lamp, by chance, and there comes out a man who changes his life… and also changes the destiny of the play by taking it to new heights. Yes. I’m talking about the Genie!

Unanimously if we ask the audience to name a character they loved the most in Disney’s Aladdin, it would hands-down be this character played by Mantra, who I fondly call the ‘master of all trades.’ In an exclusive interview with the lead cast of Aladdin, Mantra shared the transformational journey to a Genie.

To start with, I asked him about his first memory of Aladdin. Little did I know that the man of words would redefine it by saying, “For me Aladdin, henceforth, will always be this show. The day I started this musical, I forgot everything else – the cartoon, movie or anything else related to it, besides this musical. Today, whenever I hear the word Aladdin, I only think about these two talented boys (Taaruk Raina and Siddharth Menon), who are playing this role extremely well.”

This Disney musical has been performed globally, in many countries, in many formats. Here in India, it comes with a ‘desi twist’ which Mantra has delivered exceptionally well. But staying true to the format and collaborating with Disney is a golden opportunity on its own. Sharing a thought quickly here, Mantra said, “There is a lot of responsibility that comes with the brand ‘Disney,’ and I’m glad to associate with it. They also treat their product that way. Today, after these many years of doing theatres we have realized that all of us have been watched closely always. Disney has invested in the right people for Aladdin, and eventually, this is helping us grow personally and professionally.”

Produced by BookMyShow, preparation and workshops for Disney’s Aladdin were planned months before the musical was brought to NCPA. Talking about preparations, he added “Everyone has been working hard since the beginning, and we all worked closely, focusing on different elements. The mentors and experts guided us throughout. This is truly a collaborative effort. To be honest, I was confident that Genie was the odd man out in the play. Delivering such a role is difficult but I knew it would be successful, because I believe the ‘twist’ and pun adds a lot of value, and that’s what the audience relates to, besides the story.”

Mantra has made a mark on every medium, be it in films, television shows, theatre, and many others. But Radio has had a special place in his mind. The art of communicating only through voice and modulation, thereby engaging with the audience is a tricky job. There is a skill involved and it has helped the actor in this musical too. “Radio is a theatre of the mind. It has helped me a lot throughout my life, and power of communication. It helped me grow,” he said sharing his thought

Almost all the shows in the first season of the musical ended with a standing ovation, where the team is felicitated with a raining round of applause. There is a lot that goes into performing such a well-rehearsed and choreographed musical. But there is something special which makes it work, besides all the effort, and that’s power. Adding more to this thought, Mantra said, “We all say a prayer always before the play. Shruti (the director) had always firmly believed and said that we all are going as a unit, and this is powerful. The performers might be getting the limelight, but there is a big team which works in delivering the experience. It is always a teamwork, and so everyone deserves the appreciation because it is the coordination and the energies of so many people that brings the best on that stage.”

But like I mentioned before, Mantra’s performance makes its way the moment he comes on the stage. This is by far the best role he has played in his career, but he believes it is the toughest too. “…definitely. Performing live is very different from films and recording. Theatre and plays are classic. There is always a lot of pressure and a hope to deliver the best. Today we are confident in giving that, and we have worked hard. But it comes with a lot of risk as anything can go wrong. It is a tough battle, and we are trying hard to not be ripped apart,” said the ‘Genie.’

Mantra performed every day, relentlessly giving his best and making the audience laugh, and when asked about what keeps him going, this is all he said It’s a play and I love playing. It’s like a test match.” If given a chance to wish for something, he’d prefer time travel – to imagine NCPA and see how this land was, a 100 years back.”

Well, I wish someday this comes true for him! We might have a new story to experience from this master storyteller!

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