'Script is the backbone of everything'

'Script is the backbone of everything'

Rendezvous

In the backdrop of his last short film Kriti, that ran into a plagiarism row soon after its release on YouTube, Manoj Bajpai says that despite the controversy, short films are a necessity. “I believe Kriti has done quite a wonderful job and has brought the whole short film format into news. It takes just two days and commitment from everybody to do short films,” said the actor, who previously featured in a short film Taandav by Devashish Makhija.

Adding that actors take up independent and experimental cinema projects, because it gives them a breather from the mainstream, he said, “When people, even if they are pressed for time, can watch such content on their smartphones while they are on-the-move, it reflects that the shorter format is gradually building up an audience base for itself. This is why I started doing short films.”

Meanwhile, he believes that his stint in the Hindi film industry, with characters as varied as a gangster in Satya to a serial killer in Aks and a prince in Zubeidaa, has contributed to his growth, both as an actor as well as an individual.

“Had Aligarh been offered 15 years back, I may not have done it. I wouldn’t have thought of touching an old man’s story, but today I was ready. It’s the mindset. I have grown both, as an actor and a person; and I am today much more calm and courageous,” mentioned Bajpai, whose role as a homosexual professor in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh won him accolades.

The film, which was screened at 7th Jagran Film Festival was well received.
 “It has been a long journey for Aligarh. From the time we thought of making the film till its release, it created a lot of interest and debate among the viewers and the media, especially, in a country where LGBTQ (Lesbians, Gay, Bisexual, Transgenders, Queer) is considered illegal. If a filmmaker like Hansal goes ahead and makes a film on the subject, and is appreciated for his effort, it is quite an achievement,” Bajpai told Metrolife.

He added, “Films like Aligarh should be encouraged. Movies are not made to give a message. If you portray the story honestly, it has a success factor to it.”

Emphasising on the need of a strong storyline, he stated, “I choose the script first, then understand the role and then look at the director. Script is the backbone of everything. Also, the script has to be offered at the right time.”

Has there been a role he considered tough?

“I don’t understand the term ‘tough’. Each and every role challenges one as an actor.

They challenge one’s imagination, experience, and education. It’s up to you how you overcome these challenges through your hard work and by doing the right kind of research and rehearsals,” said the actor who has given acclaimed performances in films like Pinjar, Shool and Gangs of Wasseypur, in his two-decade long career.

With other actors also foraying into direction and screenwriting, does he have similar plans?
“Writing is a lonely job. I had written two plays during my theatre days, but that is when I had also decided never to write again. But direction may happen if something really excites and pushes me to take it up,” he said.

Bajpai, who is gearing up for the release of his next film Budhia Singh – Born to Run, which is based on the life of the India’s youngest marathon runner, Budhia Singh, feels that biopics should remain “true to the incidents”.

“For us, it’s just another story. You have to be imaginative, but at the same time you can’t be taking away the realistic part of it for granted. One has to be true to the incidents that happened.

Shooting those sequences puts a lot of pressure. Also, there is a documentary on Buddhia Singh. So we had to be as good as it or better. So that was the challenge,” said Bajpai who will soon be seen opposite actor Tabu in psychological thriller Missing.


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