Exclusive: “People Meditate, I Act” Says Manoj Bajpayee
Manoj Bajpayee talks about why he acts and why every character he does travels with him through life.
Critically acclaimed actor Manoj Bajpayee got talking to The Quint about what makes him say ‘yes’ to a film, his latest obsession with short format storytelling, why his characters travel with him wherever he goes and a lot more.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your latest obsession with short films and your new venture Muvizz.com.
Manoj: We are trying to make people watch content digitally, hence the short films. Getting content on your finger tips is very important nowadays, so everyone can see any film, from any part of the world. Otherwise many films don’t get a release. We are getting many films like these on our digital portal.
Q: Do you think doing short films gives a seasoned actor like yourself more scope to experiment, as compared to a feature?
Manoj: Telling a 15 minute story with the emotions of a two hour film is the biggest challenge for any creative person. I have been here for many years and today I can afford to do things in my leisure time. There is no pressure on me to do three films a year, or a film at all. But this is my contribution to a new kind of cinema.
Q: Was Bhudhia Singh challenging in the sense of shooting with a child? Did you need to be all the more sensitive while approaching your part?
Manoj: This boy comes from a chawl, so his life is not that sweet. To show people the difficulties that a talent like this, who is born and brought up in this modest world, is very important. Urban people look at childhood very differently, but in a chawl children grow up very fast. The story is about how a coach finds this boy and grooms him into a marathon runner at the age of five. What happened to his coach for doing that? People should show it to their children to make them understand how blessed they are to have got everything on a platter.
I feel that children are the best actors in the world. They do not have too many distractions and perform with their heart.
Also, this is the age when they want to play all the time, so the team made sure that they were given ample time to play, and were taught to listen to the instructions as well. It was a cake walk for me as I enjoyed working with Mayur (Patole). He comes from not a very well to do family in Pune. He learnt running for long hours much before the shoot started, with workshops that I also took for them, followed by some basic Judo training for seven days. I was like their bhaiyya who was always with them.
Q: What did you take from the film?
Manoj: The determination and the conviction of this man is unmatchable. You don’t get to see this so easily in anybody. He fights for what he believes in with very limited resources, but fights with the authorities without having any support for the talented poor children.
Q: You once said “you cannot deny reality, so why get offended?” Saat Uchakkey has been stuck with CBFC for a long time. How much does that bother you?
It (Saat Uchakkey) was denied a certificate, and now we are showing it to the tribunal in New Delhi. I hope that we get an A-certificate without cuts. It is a humorous film set in Chandni Chowk, about these seven loafers who are very good friends, and you cannot afford to miss it. Creative people and the censor board have always been at logger heads, and the CBFC hasn’t had a good relationship with creative people since the beginning. It is not any government’s fault.Manoj Bajpayee, Actor
The whole idea of a censor board is regressive in a democratic India. They should have a board whose job is to classify, rather than certifying or censoring.
Censoring and banning goes against the norm of democracy. In a democracy, you let people see what they choose to see. Parents and teachers are the best censors for children. When porn is available at the click of a button, what censor and morality are we talking about?
Q: You have always maintained that you don’t love Manoj Bajpayee, but love all your characters. Do you get that attached to them?
Manoj: Yes! All these characters take a lot of me as I put my heart and soul in them and get very attached. I forget myself and merge myself into them. They become a very important aspect of my life.
Q: Do you bring your characters back home with you?
Manoj: Mostly I try not to. To be honest with you, after so many years of taking my job seriously, somewhere they do travel with me.
Q: You have always taken pride in the choices you’ve made. How do you stay so strong to pick up parts that remain memorable for years after the film is gone?
Manoj: I take a lot of time in saying yes. If it clicks with my mind and my heart, then I say yes to it. If it only clicks with either one of them, then I don’t say yes. Frankly, I just love acting and I feel this is the best thing in the world. People do meditation, I act- this is my everything. When I wake up to promote my film, I am excited. Excited to talk to you. That is why I am before time on many occasions- be it shoots, promotions anything.
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