Manoj Bajpayee: India’s favorite Common Man | Hindi Movie News


I am at a special preview of the film Gulmohar at Sunny Super Sound, furtively wiping away tears as I watch the film with its director Rahul Chittella and his sterling cast comprising Manoj Bajpayee, Sharmila TagoreSimran and Suraj Sharma. The heartwarming film is about the Batra family selling their old family home, Gulmohar Villa, before moving out to a swanky building in Gurugram. The bitter-sweet conflicts within the family are seen through the prism of this event.
Gulmohar is slated for an OTT release and all signs of its success are already evident in the early audience reactions. And Manoj Bajpayee, as he often does, surpasses expectations in a moving lead performance in the film. As one of the highest-paid and most celebrated actors on OTT, it would be fair to say, Manoj Bajpayee’s exceptional career has come full circle from his beginning as a flamboyant movie gangster Bhiku Mhatre to a multi-dimensional common man.

After the screening, Bajpayee makes time to chat with me about his journey to becoming the toast of every award dedicated to web series and at the same time dabbling in strong indie film projects for OTT platforms. Bajpayee says, “You have to understand the purpose of each genre of entertainment. In our country (referring to mainstream Bollywood films) you can’t take your craft too seriously-you have to go out there as a blank slate and the only job is to entertain the audience and make them go through all kinds of emotions when watching the film. But in an indie film, you are not conscious of the audience—it is only about the story and storytelling.

2 (1)

The beautiful genre that our country has come up with is this new middle-of-the-road cinema, and Gulmohar is just that. It has many great things from mainstream cinema, and it has amazing things from indie cinema. That means the script is written so beautifully that people are relating to it, going through all the emotions. It is not titillating or sensationalizing but at the same time, it is making it accessible to the audience. The actor’s job here is only to be in character, be truthful to the character and the consistency of it. Just flow with it and that’s exactly what we have done in Gulmohar too.”

How did he begin to understand the nuances of OTT series and independent OTT movies, as different from mainstream films and television, I ask him. Bajpayee goes to his thoughts before he began his first OTT show, “When The Family Man started, my wife thought I am doing some television series because OTT was not that big, and people were not exposed to its strength. What I was looking for was not a thriller or drama filled with sex or violence. I was looking for something unique, never-done-before and I was very lucky that Raj & DK came to me with this idea. That struck a chord with me. It struck me that my character Srikant Tiwari is not just a family man but he is also RK Laxman’s Common Man, somebody who is watching everything, doing a job and also making a comment on the world around him. And that is where we scored. He is every man in this country facing the same problems. I have only done my job as an actor, but I never realized that this is going to be so huge that it will expand my fan base in such a big way. I have seen the show Narcos in the US and I have seen and read about the impact it made on people’s minds. So, The Family Man to my mind has become the Narcos of the world from India. It has truly crossed over in every which way.”


Talking further about the secret to his evolution, Bajpayee says, “No actor is good if he is not growing. Or if he is not interested in growing and evolving every day because the world is changing rapidly. Look at the phone, it has changed its shape and nature. And five years later we will talk about how naïve we were to not understand its capacity to evolve. Technology is evolving and even we actors have to, and that is what I keep an eye on, all the time.”

To my question about his method in keeping up to date and on top of his game with the changing times, Bajpayee reveals that he does acting workshops all the time. “Sometimes Mukesh Chhabra calls me to his workshop or sometimes at NSD. Once I was invited by FTII. Whenever I am free, I go there because I personally think that this is what I can give back. You have to give back to the generation. You have to make their journey shorter to support them and to mentor them. That will be my biggest achievement. I always think about how many people’s journeys I can make shorter.”

We move on from his mentoring young minds to talk about things closer to home, his young 12-year-old daughter and what she thinks of him. Bajpayee smiles and says, “Right now she doesn’t think anything about me. Right now, the only thing she wants is for me to never get out of the car when we go to drop her at her boarding school. She feels very embarrassed that all her friends and school staff are willing to take a photograph with me. Once she even said that ‘Let me lead a normal life so don’t get out of the car’. But other than that, I am lucky to have a child who is so sharp. I am very thankful to my wife in the manner that she is bringing her up in terms of her education and her social skills which is very important.”


We sign off our chat by talking about our home state and the cinema it spawns. Bajpayee says, “Bihar has a lot of potential in terms of developing its art and culture. I have requested Tejaswi Yadavji and Nitish (Kumar) Ji to open drama institutes and renovate all auditoriums and make a great campus for art and culture. I am not a rich person, but if Bihar requires me for art and culture, I will be there.”

It’s heartening to see that the extremely talented actor despite his success is firmly rooted, looking to give back to the people who got him to where he is at. That is the true essence of Manoj Bajpayee, the ever-evolving Common Man of India who has successfully mastered both mainstream and indie cinema and has become the toast of the OTT platforms.

(Priyanka Sinha Jha is a senior editor, author, and content creator who comments extensively across Bollywood, celebrities and popular culture. Views are personal.)


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *