The first time the actor managed to captivate the audience was in 1998 with the dialogue, “Mumbai ka king kaun? Bhiku Mhatre!” It has been almost 23 years since Satya, and Manoj Bajpayee’s presence on celluloid has been strengthened with a plethora of diverse performances, most of which have managed to attain cult status.
The seasoned actor has adapted himself well to the changing times and made a smooth transition to the OTT platforms, which according to him is a liberating space for artists. “OTT is a liberating and democratic platform and it has put each and every actor on the same level. Whoever is doing good work is being appreciated and this is called a democratic nature, and in this kind of a liberating platform, all you care about is a good script and nothing else. Now, suddenly you see fantastic talents coming up and all of them are coming up only because of their performance and not because of their PR exercise or stardom.”
Although he doesn’t fit the description of a quintessential hero or star, Bajpayee, who started off his journey as an aspiring boy from Bihar, has managed to cement his name in the industry solely on the basis of his skill.
On being asked about whether he and his contemporaries like Nawazuddin Siddiqui or Pankaj Tripathi have been changing the way people view stars and actors, he said, “Nawaz or Pankaj or me or our late friend Irfaan (Khan), all of these guys they have been doing very well even before corona. They have been contributing in their own way through all the work they have been a part of. They definitely have been getting all the love from the audience and also in return, they have been changing the demographic. Let stars offer what they have best to offer and let these actors offer what they have best to offer. All of them should co-exist without trying to undermine each other.”
Bajpayee boasts a diverse filmography that he has created with utmost love and effort for over almost 20 years. The Gangs of Wasseypur actor believes that one acquires the craft and skill by working over the years and his process of getting into the skin of his characters change with every role he takes up, as every role demands a different approach.
Currently, Bajpayee is basking in the success of his recent OTT release Silence… Can You Hear It? which was shot during the lockdown.
Talking of the experience of shooting in such tough times, he says, “The producer of the film managed to put the protocols and restrictions in place. He really took care of every area of the shoot and that’s how the shooting went off so smoothly. In the end when you work that hard putting that much energy into a film, and when it’s admired, loved by the audience, then everything seems just right. You feel everything you have done is worth it.”
However, the sail was not smooth for the three times National Film Award winner, and he faced his fair share of struggles. Talking of his toughest time as an actor, he recalled a time when cameras would turn away from him. “I have gone through a time when media right in front of me turned away their cameras. I never took that seriously as I knew it was a matter of one film and one role. And that has happened because of Rajneeti. Rajneeti has gotten me back, and it re-established Manoj Bajpayee."
He has a jam-packed schedule till June next year as he is working on several projects right now. The Aligarh actor will next be seen in the second season of Amazon Prime’s thriller The Family Man. Talking of this anticipated release, he says, “The success of Silence has really distracted my mind away from everything that is going to come. To talk about The Family Man, all I can say is we are waiting for the date of the streaming announcement from Amazon Prime Video and I think it’s around the corner."