His first major role has probably become the
most remarkable villain since Gabbar Singh of Sholay. The
spirit of Bhiku Mhatre, Mumbai ka king, Manoj Bajpai gives
acting a whole new dimension. Manoj is the hottest thing
in the industry today, with films like 'Ghaath,' 'Dil Pe
Mat Le Yaar' and 'Zubeida' on the rolls. Seasonsindia.com
correspondents brings you the don himself.
What are you currently working on? What is the role all
I am currently shooting for 'Ghaath.' I play this unemployed
city guy from the middle-class. He has dreams but he is
not able to fulfill them because he does not have the opportunity.
He is representative of so many city-bred youth who have
quite a bit to prove but find no way to channelise their
energy. So, they take up wrong deeds. It's a very serious
issue we are dealing with here, but in the mainstream format
with a realistic touch."
Like Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty, you are dabbling with
comedy in 'Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar'.
"'DPMLY' is a tragi-comedy where the comedy lies in the
situation, not in the performance. The comedy then turns
into a tragedy. It's a very interesting film and it has
shaped up so well that I am proud that I have done it. I
played a major role in making it happen that at the end
of the day I encouraged these people to make the film; people
who were completely unknown to the industry. And I really
hope that the film does well."
'Shool' did not do as well as expected.
What went wrong?
"Nothing went wrong with 'Shool'. Trade people do not take
into consideration the collections during the re-runs. But,
I must tell you that 'Shool' has done a tremendous business
during the re-runs. It was in demand all along and ran for
many weeks. And I got as much appreciation for this film
as much for 'Satya,' from every corner.
How does one rationalise a highly
appreciated performance for a film that fails as a product
at the box office?
"See, I am part of the film. You have to see that. The people
who have been involved in the making of the film also benefit
from it, in fact, probably much more than Manoj Bajpai alone
does. Like E.Nivas, who directed the film. After 'Shool',
every one is talking about him. Or Rajpal Yadav who was
also offered a meaty role in Ramu's 'Jungle.' So, everyone
benefited from the film. Even the cameraman Hari Nayar is
doing so much work from the film. It's just that the media
somewhere, I feel, backed out of emphasising on 'Shool'
or showed some kind of ignorance in highlighting the importance
of the film. They appreciated it and forgot about it.
There are some rumours going around
that you and Neha have broken up. When, in fact, the two
of you never even admitted to be seeing each other.
I am not very comfortable talking about my personal life.
It is not that I don't want people to know about it. Everyone
knows about it and I don't want anyone to know beyond that,
because it is not just about my life. I am a very private
person and I don't even intend to share these things with
anyone, whether it's my misery or anything else."
Why is this?
"That's just the way I am. I am not very comfortable talking
about these things. I tell people whatever needs to be told
and I am very open about it. I don't feel comfortable talking
about something when it involves another person. It's about
respecting the other person.
Somebody said that you've taken ballroom dancing lessons
for Shyam Benegal's 'Zubeida' and even in 'DPMLY' you are
doing proper choreographed sequences. Why this sudden fascination?
"I have done a lot of musicals in theatre. I was one of
the lucky few, who could dance as well. I am not Michael
Jackson or Govinda or Prabhu Deva but yes, I can manage.
Mr. Amitabh Bachchan has done some beautiful dancing. It's
all about feeling the music and rhythm. And Arshad Warsi
is a very good dancer and he has seen some of my stuff in
'DPMLY' and he said he loved my dancing in it. Coming from
an accomplished dancer like him, it means a lot. He said,
"Manoj, you look so good when you are dancing, that's only
because you are feeling it."
You've got two films happening with Tabu. What is it like
working with her?
"Oh, I have a fantastic relationship with her. It's a fabulous
working relationship. I have always admired and appreciated
her as an actress. She is someone who comes to the sets
without any baggage. She gives so much credibility and depth
to the role she is playing. She is a very comfortable actress
to work with.
What is the criterion on which you choose your role?
"There is no criterion. At that moment in time, it should
strike me and say," Yes, Manoj, this is the role you want
to do." I may be proven wrong in the long run, but as long
as it clicks at that moment. There will be people who will
ask me why I refused to do a certain film and I may not
have an answer to that. But, there is something about that
role that is not going down well with me. Or I am not charged
up about the role."
What does success mean to you?
"To me, it is the freedom to do what you want." Right now
there are too many things to be accomplished before I can
call myself successful."
What does a Manoj Bajpai kind of
film look like?
'Aks,' 'Ghaath,' 'DPMLY' and 'Zubeida,' these are my kind
of films. Simple narration, simple script, good characters."