'All the characters have moved on from part one.'
'My character Srikant Tiwari is in a different zone.'
'Srikant is like R K Laxman's Common Man striving to keep a balance between his work and family.'
It has been a good year for Manoj Bajpayee as he explores all sorts of roles.
From his latest release Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari to the forthcoming season two of The Family Man, the actor has a lot of entertainment in store for his viewers.
"Coincidentally, all my OTT projects came out during the pandemic, be it Bhonsle, The Family Man or Mrs Serial Killer, Manoj tells Subhash K Jha.
Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari sees you donning several disguises. Was that a challenge?
It was a challenge getting into all those disguises.
You have four-five people working on your looks and prosthetic every morning for hours for a disguise that comes on screen for just a few minutes.
It was quite a task.
I also had to work on the characters for each disguise, give it a backstory, even if it was on screen briefly.
It had to look convincing.
So yes, it was a challenge, but worth it.
After doing so many heavy roles, was it fun doing comedy?
If you mean only comedy is fun, then I disagree with you.
I have fun no matter which character it is, Bhonsle or The Family Man or Gali Guleiyan.
No matter what the tone of the character is, one has to enjoy playing it.
Some roles make you intensely invested like Gali Guleiyan, Bhonsle or Satya.
Others characters put you in a happier place and you remain in a happy frame of mind playing them in order to pitch them in the right mode, as was the case with The Family Man and Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari.
Was it a relief to move away from so many heavy parts in recent times?
Yes, it was a different turn and quite a change from the characters I've been playing recently.
Even The Family Man gives me the chance to stay lighthearted, although in a very different way as compared to Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari.
When you are doing something like Rukh or Aligarh you can't bring the happy sur to the sets.
That would disturb the mood of the character.
These had begun to take a toll on your mental health?
When I was doing Satya, Kaun and Shool, they ruined my mental health.
With experience and age, I learnt to distance myself from my characters to the extent that they didn't affect me psychologically.
After Pinjar, I changed my approach so that I immerse myself in the character and come out without hurting myself.
In spite of the pandemic, 2020 has been a good year for you work-wise.
Coincidentally, all my OTT projects came out during the pandemic, be it Bhonsle, The Family Man or Mrs Serial Killer.
One of my favourite films 1971 went unnoticed when it was released in theatres in 2007.
The producers recently put it on YouTube, where it is a blockbuster.
I did a Bhojpuri rap for Anubhav Sinha during the pandemic.
Yes, I am humbled by the work and attention during these stressful times.
At the same time, nobody wants to be locked down for six months, jobless, helpless.
I'm shooting again and it is going to be back-to-back work for me for the next one-and-a-half years.
Tell us about your forthcoming assignments.
I am not allowed to talk about all of them.
I have signed some very exciting stuff.
I am very excited about The Family Man. All the characters have moved on from part one.
It's a different dynamic and politics.
My character Srikant Tiwari is in a different zone.
I had a ball shooting it.
Srikant is like R K Laxman's Common Man striving to keep a balance between his work and family.
I enjoyed playing his various shades and yet had to ensure the audience saw him as one character.
Like Srikant Tiwari, I am going to have to be away from my family for quite a lot of time in 2021.