Manoj Bajpayee’s foray into the OTT platform was the talk of the town the whole of last year. This year everyone is eagerly waiting for The Family Man season 2. Shubarna Mukerji Shu just had to ask the man himself if he is anxious with the lockdown, or waiting patiently for his second season of success?
The world is in a lockdown but there is no stopping Manoj Bajpayee from entering right into your television screens and leaving you gobsmacked by his work. Yet there are many facets about the actor you might not be aware of. For instance, did you know this Padma Shri winner thinks his career has seen more struggle than accolades? So read on as we unveil a new facet of your beloved actor.
To begin with let’s talk about your foray into the world of web series and the grand success you have made out of it.
It is a fantastic feeling for the entire cast and crew of The Family Man. I don’t think there has been a show that was been appreciated by all so unanimously. Be it the critics, the audience, the ratings – everything favored it. Which is a great feeling.
Are you anxious about the second season of The Family Man?
The thrill of the first season was great, but I will be foolish to take it over to the second season. The filmmakers and the cast are very clear about this, the first season is over and done with. Yes we have celebrated its success but now we are geared up for season two. Here Shrikant Tiwari will have newer, bigger challenges. His circumstances will be new, his challenges will be grueling. Our focus is getting that right. If we live on the success of the first season we will never see the success of season 2. And that will be a big loss, because let me tell you. The Family Man season 2, is going to be much, much bigger and better than the first season.
What according to you does the OTT medium bring for the actors?
To sum up in one word, what this medium of web series means to an actor, I will go with the word ‘opportunity’. Web series have opened up a world of opportunity of so many talented actors who were not getting jobs. There are many actors who have had the potential but no breakthroughs. Web series have turned lives around for such actors. Frankly, I don’t think the commercial cinema circuit was wrong in rejecting these actors. To be truthful, I don’t think commercial cinema can stomach the kind of talent and potential these actors come with. Bollywood as you call it, doesn’t have the content to contain such dynamic performers. So, Bollywood would never do justice to them. Web series on the other hand is an open field. If you have talent, you can showcase your work here. Work that speaks of quality and gives you respect of a performer too.
The OTT platform is a lifesaver even for its audience today. Given the circumstances we are all in, what do you make out of this lockdown life?
The lockdown is nothing but a loud and clear message from the Nature to us all. What we are going through today is a lesson for all of us. Nature is taking control, God’s taking control. It is all in His hands. If you still don’t get the message God help you. I think, the only thing we people can do is focus on our craft. Just keep doing what we have to do. If you have a job well and good, if you were hoping for a job keep honing your skills, if you have nothing just keep practicing your craft and let this period go. There is nothing the rich, the successful or the even the poor can do in this situation. So quit being restless. Concentrate your energy on what you need to keep doing, concentrate on your craft and your calling. Leave the rest to God.
For someone whose work has always been appreciated by people of all ages, what would you say has been one of your biggest challenges as an actor?
Throughout my career I have only met with the challenges, doubt, obstructions, criticism… all of it changed into appreciation once in a while but it has been quite a roller coaster ride for me. It has been quite a journey. The learning has been humbling to the core. I think some people find me a little too straightforward, I don’t try to beat around the bush, I cannot tell things to please people.
For me one of my biggest challenges was to do what I believed in. You cannot imagine the kind of opposition I have had to face. Not just making the film, getting a distributor, getting publicity and finally getting the film released. I say it very openly, people laugh at it, but the fact is that I have been known for all my flops. These are films I have believed in. But these films didn’t get the right kind of distribution. For eg; 1971. The film is garnering huge response from the audience but no one knew when it came out. So I stick to what I believe in. I give my best and I know, eventually it will reap the fruits.
As an actor you give your all to all your films, yet there might be some that are closer to your heart than the others. Irrespective of the box office numbers it raked in - can you think of some of those films which you would like to recommend our readers to see?
Don’t judge a film by the box office, whether it is mine or others. I always go by how that film made me feel, how it was making that film (if I featured in it) For me as an actor, the most important thing was to take my work/ my film to the audience, I want as many people as can, to watch my work. That is the single most important thing for me. And let them decide the fate of my film for themselves. If they like it, great. If they don’t, let that be their own opinion. I appreciate every feedback I get. If someone criticizes my work, I listen to them very carefully.
For that reason, I would have wanted your readers to go watch Budhia Singh – Born To Run. That is one of my best performances and one of the best films of my career. It was sheer bad luck for Budhia Singh that it got released in the same year as Aligarh. Aligarh having such a strong content about the homosexually oriented professor’s life, acquired a lot of sympathy and empathy. Soon later, the same year Budhia Singh released but people were still not over Aligarh and its performance. Though some critics ranked Budhia Singh as my best, I would really urge people to go on Netflix and watch that film.
My next question was all about which film do you consider your personal best, but I guess you already answered that…
I didn’t actually. Budhia Singh is available on OTT platform hence I suggested that. According to me, and my understanding of acting Gali Guleiyan is my best performance till date. Also Bhonsle, the film for which I got the second Asia Pacific award. The producers are looking to release these films on OTT platforms but till that happens, do watch Budhia Singh.