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Manoj Bajpayee: I have been called all sorts of things, there’s been so much of back-biting and pulling down, but I am a tough nut

By Bombay Talkies 03 / 09 / 2020 | 05:59 PM
Actor Manoj Bajpayee confesses that he has done some ‘wrong’ films just for his survival, says the phase after his 2003 film Pinjar didn’t get a good response from the audience, made him stronger.

Padma Shri, National Awards, critical acclaim — Manoj Bajpayee’s journey has had these high points. But that doesn’t mean he got it all easy. Low points were plenty too. In fact, we ask him what was that point when he finally let go of the box-office obsession that almost all actors have, and he tells us the reason.

“It happened before Pinjar (2003). When such a great film didn’t see that kind of footfall in theatres, and not even nominated at any mainstream award functions, it completely — I wouldn’t say disillusioned — it actually put the truth right in front of my eyes. No matter whatever I will do, or what I have been trying to do, these people are not going to award or recognise me, and the audience is somewhere not interested in watching the films I do, so I am on my own,” confesses the 51-year-old.


His career, he goes on to say, went ‘down completely’ after that. “I could see that I was sliding down. No matter how many chips are down, I have never been down. I have used those low phases of mine in bettering my craft and myself as an actor and person. I have done things which I haven’t done for a few years. Sometimes, I have done a few wrong films, just to keep the kitchen going. Yes, it was a phase where I was not getting offers, but somewhere my resolve was a hundred percent,” says Bajpayee, who then went on to star in films such as Aligarh (2015) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).

‘Star’ might be a tag that has come to be attached with him, owing to his powerful performances and knack of handling both the masala and independent films, but he reveals, “They called me all sorts of things, people have done so much of back biting and pulling down. Only people close to me know I am a tough nut to really pull down. You put a thousand people in my opposition, I will never be scared, rather it challenges me, and motivates!”

26 years and counting, Bajpayee has been around long enough to express a take on whether the industry has changed from how it used to be before. He says it’s far more organised. There was a time when scripts were not even considered important, he shares.

“Earlier, when I would ask for the script, they would laugh at me, look at me in amazement ‘where has this guy come from?’, but now, it is given to you. Contracts are signed, fees are given in cheque, shooting usually starts right on time, and ends on time too. People try to stick to budgets. What still hasn’t changed is there's no space for independent films. When it comes to exhibition, they are still struggling,” says the actor.

He says transparency is what needs to be implemented in that aspect. Bajpayee says, “OTT platforms have been changing too many things in the current phase. I hope things will change drastically once the lockdown restrictions are lifted. Opposition is something you have to be ready to face every time, and when you have no one, it’s all the more better, because there’s no confusion in your mind. Then you have to fight it out all on your own, it gives you immense power.”


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