He has beefed up admirably for his latest show Kesari Nandan (for which he is shooting round the clock), where he plays the wrestler father Hanumant Singh. His prowess in comedy came to the fore with his hugely popular serial Yam Hai Hum. His benevolence as King Krishna Deva Raya won him applause in the lovable Tenali Raman series. Actor Manav Gohil is a much loved television star, having wowed the audience with his performance in serials including Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki , Kkusum, and CID. But his prized pick is the role of daddy in real life that he plays to his six-year-old daughter Zahra-Tabitha.

Excerpts from a conversation:

For television actor Manav Gohil, his six-year-old daughter Zahra-Tabitha is the centre of his universe. After becoming a dad, he reveals, when he works with child actors, he takes their permission before picking them up for a scene.
What’s your pet name for your daughter? And she is daddy’s girl, is she?

Tabby. And yes, totally (laughs). In fact, when I get home from my shoots and Tabby is around, then even my wife Shweta (Kawatra) is not allowed to touch me!

But given your hectic shoot schedules, how do you spend enough time with Tabby?

When I am away, we do a video call at least once a day. When I am back, I drop her to school, which is my exclusive time with Tabby. Then we go on walks, hug each other. We have a family cuddle session every day, enjoy meals together, pray together….I believe family is the source of strength, warmth and emotional security in our Indian fabric. That is how we have been brought up.

Being a single child, does she take advantage?

Honestly, she does have me wrapped around her little finger, but I am firm about certain things. Bad behaviour will not be tolerated. She tends to get a little out of hand sometimes with her mum, especially when I am around, but we take her to task. I always tell Tabby that I love her, but will not tolerate misbehaviour towards anyone, or even tantrums and overexcited high-pitched demands at restaurants when we go out.

What happens when she throws tantrums in public places?

I ignore her. If she persists, then a firm tonal inflection works for the moment. Later on, I explain to her why what she did was not appropriate and why I was upset. She needs to understand. Kids are more intelligent than we give them credit for.

How has having a daughter transformed you?

You know, apart from becoming more responsible and caring, there has been a bigger change. I have begun observing myself and my actions in a different light. I work a lot with child artistes. I have worked with little girls during the course of my acting career

Shilpi Madan for Indian Express

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