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Manoj Bajpayee: I am a desperate actor

By Sonil Dedhia
January 09, 2015 09:15 IST
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Manoj Bajpayee

'Even if you give me a good role, I will try to make it look bad because nobody is perfect.'

Manoj Bajpayee gets ready to play yet another negative character in Tevar.

Manoj Bajpayee is enjoying the current phase in his career.

There was a time when he had no work at all, but now he has his hands full with as many as five projects.

The actor had decided not to play negative characters, but he plays one in his new release Tevar.

He justifies it by saying: "My character in Tevar is unlike what I have done so far. It has grey shades and that is something I would jump at any time."

As he prepares for yet another Friday release, Bajpayee explains what convinced him to work in a commercial film like Tevar, and why films shouldn’t be blamed for what is happening in the society. Sonil Dedhia/ listens in.

Tevar is quite unlike the films you have acted in. What convinced you to be a part of it?

It was because of the way (director) Amit Sharma chased me, like a stubborn kid.

I generally stay away from commercial cinema because when it comes to good roles, stars are always given preference over actors.

When the role came to me, I was apprehensive about how I would be treated during the promotions.

But as you can see from the posters, my character has been given equal importance.

You played a negative character in Aks and Raajneeti

(Interrupts) No. Aks was a character-oriented role and in Raajneeti, I was not a bad guy. If I was bad, Ranbir Kapoor's character was equally bad.

You call me negative only because I was pitted against Ranbir Kapoor, and you think he is the hero.

Mentally, you have decided good and bad. In that film, nobody was good or bad. Everyone was fighting for their own rights.

In an earlier interview, you said you don’t want to play a negative character. What made you accept Tevar then?

After Satyagraha, I had decided not to do negative characters. My character in Tevar is unlike what I have done so far.

It has grey shades and that is something I would jump at any time.

Even if you give me a good role, I will try to make it look bad because nobody is perfect.

If you give me a character like Sardar Khan (in Gangs Of Wasseypur), who is out and out a bad guy, but he is the hero of the film, I can try to make him lovable. This is what I bring to my character.

This is the second time you are working with Sanjay Kapoor. He was your co-star in Jaago and now he is your producer. Tell us your experience…

Boney Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor are all hardcore film buffs. They don’t question the actor or director.

If the director wants something, they will provide it immediately. If I wanted certain perks or comfort, I was provided with them immediately.

At the same time, I had to give my best. Those guys are willing to go to any length to provide you the best of facilities.

As a producer, Sanjay Kapoor was quiet, looking at the happenings from a distance, whereas as an actor he's always very charged and excited.

Arjun Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee in Tevar

Image: Arjun Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee in Tevar

What do you have to say about the younger actors, especially your Tevar co-star Arjun Kapoor?

He is as desperate as I am. I am a desperate actor. I want everything today.

Arjun is very hard working. The only advantage he has is that he comes from a hardcore film family, who understand the business. Yet he is down to earth, practical and realistic.

That makes him a great guy to work with.

I have become a big admirer of Arjun Kapoor as a human being and as an actor. He is a lovely chap, brought up so well.

You have worked with directors like Prakash Jha and Anurag Kashyap among many others. What was it like working with a relatively new director, Amit Sharma?

I used to fight with him like a dog but since Amit is such a magnanimous director and junior to me, he took all the scolding.

But at the end of the day, he is very stubborn. He will ask me to do the things that he wants. Eventually, I used to melt.

But yes, wherever I could impress him or influence him in terms of my arguments, I did what needed to be done.

The end product is something that I am very proud of.

My character is a negative guy behaving like a teenager, falling in love. That is endearing.

The last episode of the recent television series Satyamev Jayate shows that films often encourage men to misbehave with women. There is a scene in Tevar where you are pulling Sonakshi by her hair…

(Interrupts) No, I am not pulling her by her hair. I am dragging her. I am telling her not to scream, fearing what people will think. I am very responsible when it comes to these things.

Of course, there are irresponsible films, but most of them are not. Some filmmakers do anything to titillate the audience. That is why I am not part of those films. I don’t like to be a part of a project where content is secondary.

I don’t think films can be blamed for what is happening in the society.

Sonakshi Sinha and Manoj Bajpyee in Tevar

Image: Sonakshi Sinha and Manoj Bajpyee in Tevar

In your teenage days, did you have the kind of crush you have on Sonakshi in Tevar?

I have had many teenage crushes but I’m not Gajendra Singh (his character in Tevar) and so did not face such a situation.

We have all fallen in love with someone and waited to catch even a glimpse of him/her.

How romantic are you in personal life?

I am very romantic, but my face doesn’t reflect it. I have seen Kareeb (his wife Shabana Raza’s film) only once but after that the girl (Shabana Raza) came to me permanently. She came kareeb to me. (laughs)

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai