From Bhiku Mhatre to Surya Sen

From Bhiku Mhatre to Surya Sen


Industry has used only 25 per cent of Manoj Bajpai,” says the accomplished actor who was rece­n­tly in the City to promote his latest film Chittagong, which releases today. From Bhiku Mhatre in Satya to Sardar in Gangs of Wasseypur, the actor has had a critically acclaimed journey.

In a candid tete-e-tete with Metrolife, he shares facts about Bollywood and also talks about Surya Sen a.ka. Masterda, his character in Chittagong.

“In any other industry, after being part of such films, I would have been exhausted of my abilities. But here, it is so purely commerce driven that they don’t think beyond,” says Manoj who agrees that promoting a film has become important. “Filmmaking has been taken over by marketing. I don’t know whether it is good or bad but there should be certain limit to it. Big films spend so much on marketing which spoils audiences completely,” he says and cheekily adds, “journalists spoil audiences!”

However, he confesses that it took him time to come to terms with the reality of commercial cinema. “It took me time to start talking about myself. It is the cheapest thing to say on stage that my film is great. I would rather, that the audience says it.” A trait of a humble actor!

Surrounded by media on the day of his press conference, Manoj feels, “Nobody knows oneself. Whatever I know about myself is a biased opinion. Therefore when people say that an actor has played himself in a film then it is a biased opinion.” Ask him who Manoj is behind the camera and pat comes the reply, “I am a moody guy. I am affected by my work and that is why I am like this.”

Even after having successfully essayed critically significant roles in his career, the actor says that playing Surya Sen “was challenging” for “Masterda is known to every child in Bengal. He is revered in places like West Bengal and Bangladesh. So the challenge was to get his image right.”

The actor confesses about his fear of flying which affected him while travelling to the shooting location near the Bhutan border yet he took up the role because “Masterda’s role is important, but it would have been great to play Jhunku Roy (the 14-year old protagonist who inspired by Masterda takes forward the Chittagong revolutionaries in their fight against the British).”

His experience during the film was a combination of both “fear and fun. There were animals around us which was scary but living amidst nature was fun. We used to vacate the area when elephants had to go to drink water because if we didn’t move then we would have been killed!”

He believes that the film will be appreciated for the “audience is looking for a great story that will engrosses them. People want to see real films which are believable and worth each and every penny that they have spent on them.”

Does he plan to direct? “I will,” he says but gets more excited at the mention of theatre.

A wanna be-NSD alumnus, Manoj shares, “I went to Bollywood for Bandit Queen after being rejected by NSD four times. I always wanted to be in NSD!”  But his thirst for theatre has not been quenched as yet. He is working on a musical play but stops short of talking about it. “I am coming back to theatre for it is much more satisfactory. Cinema is a director’s medium but theatre is an actor’s medium completely.”

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