He hates to make his onscreen characters larger than life, unlike some Bollywood one-film wonders, who spin yarns about their acting forte and chock-a-block schedules, even when the chips are down and out. National-award winning actor Manoj Bajpayee has an innate knack to humanise his characters. Most of them are now cult icons. They connect with the masses instantly. Be it the daredevil Bhiku Mhatre in Satya (1998); mafia don Sardar Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur (2012); solitary gay Professor Ramchandra Siras in Aligarh (2016) or spy Srikant Tiwari in the latest The Family Man web series. Bajpayee knows his art. And he uses it cleverly. His acting prowess is phenomenal. He breathes a soul in every character he performs. “I never try to make the character larger than life. I always try to live in reality and make the character representative of the masses,” he says.
Bajpayee, who has been regarded as India’s answer to ‘James Bond’ with the critically-acclaimed The Family Man series, knows how to create cult icons. Speaking on the sidelines of the 52nd International Film Festival of India, Goa, the versatile actor says, “Just look around and you will realise that the life of an Indian middle-class person is a comedy. They are the inspiration and reference for all my characters.”
Talking about the research he made to essay the role of a spy in The Family Man series, Bajpayee says, “I really didn’t need to search Srikant Tiwari (the character) anywhere around. I got it within me, in my family, in my surroundings and everywhere.”
The Family Man is the story of a middle-class Indian guy, who is trying to find a balance between a demanding job and a demanding family. “I was getting a lot of offers on the OTT platform but I was reluctant to be part of the OTT template. Several makers were following the blood, gore and pistols template,” he explains. “But when Raj and DK came to me with the synopsis of The Family Man, I was sold out,” Bajpayee adds.
The actor feels that OTT is an excellent platform to share some fantastic regional story ideas from India to the world. “If your content is good, everybody will lap it up. You have to break the barrier and make the story pan-India,” he adds and signs out.
Well, till then, we will circle the dates on our calendar (almanac) to see this cult figure’s upcoming movies Campus (2021), Mughal Road (2022) and Raakh (2023).
A CULT ICON
l Manoj Bajpayee is the recipient of 3 National Film awards, and 2 Asia-Pacific Screen awards
l In 2019, he was awarded the Padma Shri, for his contributions to art
l He received the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for Bhiku Mhatre in Satya (1998)
l Bajpayee won the Special Jury National Award for Pinjar (2003)
l His portrayal of gay professor Ramchandra Siras, in Aligarh, won him the Best Actor Award at the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards in 2016.
l He won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film Bhonsle