Manoj Bajpayee always wanted to be an actor since his childhood. Once he got his big break in Bandit Queen, there’s been no looking back. He’s proved his mettle time and again over the years, constantly choosing roles that redefine not just acting but the way certain characters need to be played. At the moment, he’s won his third National Award in the Best Actor category for Bhonsle and has been getting flooded with compliments for his OTT web series and films.
The Family Man star spoke exclusively to the Free Press Journal about several things close to his heart. Excerpts from a candid conversation:
You feel The Family Man has stamped you as an OTT icon?
Neither I wanted to be stamped nor labelled as a brand or a star. I just want to keep getting good offers and directors to work with. I feel The Family Man has kind of led this whole thing about me expanding on OTT and creating a new fan base. This was followed by the appreciation I got for Silence... Can You Hear It?, Dial 100, Bhonsle and Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa from the Ray anthology. I am really happy about it.
We’ve heard that you have a packed 2022…
By God’s grace, I have been working continuously, and I will be continuing to shoot my previous work commitments, which were on hold due to the pandemic. I have to finish those first and then take up new projects. I am glad the way my work is going. I have a lot to look forward to.
You were shooting in Kerala. How was it shooting there for so long?
I was shooting for director Abhishek Chaubey’s next project in the beautiful tea estates of Munnar-Thekkady in Kerala for three months. I had a great time shooting it, especially when I believe that Abhishek is one of the finest directors of our country. I got to learn so much, and we will start the Mumbai schedule in a few days.
How is the shoot of Despatch going on in Mumbai?
I will be wrapping the shoot of Despatch in a few days from now in Mumbai. The shoot got interrupted due to the lockdown, but I resumed it a few days ago. I am excited. Director Kanu Behl is also a taskmaster. He got me and the other actors out of our comfort zones. I am fortunate to have worked with Ronnie Screwvala and his production company.
You recently received the National Award in the Best Actor category for Bhonsle… Your thoughts?
The whole team worked really hard. From getting the finances to making the film, we waited for really long. When I received the National Award, it was like fruit coming out after so much patience and hard work. After doing something like Bhonsle, my resolve has only gotten stronger about doing things the way I have been doing. With all the humility, I accept all the praises coming my way for Bhonsle.