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OTT has created a level playing field: Bajpayee

Last Updated 25 March 2022, 17:36 IST

A thunderous applause welcomed actor Manoj Bajpayee to the jampacked front lawn of the second day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) on March 11. “Anyone acting in a film but doing a role of other than a hero is treated as a second class citizen. And he is treated this way on the set, in award ceremonies, on the posters and also by the audience,” the National Award-winning Bollywood actor said.

Calling the Covid-19 pandemic an equaliser in the Hindi film industry, Bajpayee said that it brought a huge shift in the filmmaking and the film industry as it generated equal opportunities for talented artistes and aspiring actors.

“Things started changing in Bollywood during the pandemic. The Covid-19 has been bad for the entire world but it has been a blessing in disguise for the entertainment industry,” said Bajpayee in a session titled ‘Pure Evil: The Bad Men of Bollywood’.

“Post Covid, the talented ones have got a bigger platform and all characters are getting equal importance. The dynamics of the film industry have changed and now every actor, not necessarily the lead, is important,” added Bajpayee, who was terrific in the web series ‘The Family Man 2’, his most recent work.

Bajpayee says that in his struggling days, he was reluctant to move to Mumbai (then Bombay) as Bollywood then was only about celebrating heroes and he expected to get offers of playing the villain. “It didn’t go down well with me,” said Bajpayee.

OTT era

Talking about his success on the OTT platforms, Bajpayee said, “The OTT platform has been a saviour and even during the pandemic, it gained momentum and importance. While many opted for binge-watching at the same time, the OTT platform served as a launching pad for many actors and scriptwriters.”

About the changes witnessed in the entertainment industry in recent times, Bajpayee said, “Now we have so many women-oriented films as well as the films focusing marginalised communities. Since the secondary characters are as important as the leads, it give a level-playing field to all the talent.”

Describing the power of character-driven roles in cinema, Bajpayee gave the example of fellow actor Nana Patekar’s performances ‘Parinda’ and ‘Angaar’. He said, “When commercial cinema was ruling the box office, Nana Patekar was the only actor who was preferred in important from the many hailing from the theatre background. Nana is one such actor who is never put in the limelight and not praised enough.”

Bajpayee reminisced about his famous role of Raghavan Ghatge in ‘Aks’, directed by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. “It is very difficult to define what is evil. The character which I played was influenced by Amitabh Bachchan, who I really idealised in my growing up years. In this film, I got a chance to work with him and I had a chance to define ‘evil’ as well as to play the character of evil,” he said.

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(Published 25 March 2022, 17:31 IST)

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