Manoj Bajpayee is known in Bollywood as someone who has played quite a few offbeat and unconventional roles, right from Satya to Rajneeti. It’s a name people reckon as an ‘actor’, something that not many other celebrities can boast of. Always the choice of directors who believe in doing something different and closer to reality, his Gangs Of Wasseypur strengthens this fact. The man from Jharkhand who is now playing a gangster in the Anurag Kashyap affair, Manoj is happy to talk about the film and his love for his director.
The film is set in the town of Wasseypur. So does the very setting make this film so unique?
Gangs have always been a part of quite a few movies that have been based UP, Bihar, Mumbai or down South. However what I found intriguing about the whole film is that Wasseypur is unique in its own way. All the characters are based on real life human beings who were born and brought up in this town. There is an amazing magical realism about these people which has driven me mad and excited me at the same time.
Well, in this town murder is a way of life. It happens as if it’s a part of everyone’s normal life. When a murder is committed, the world doesn’t topple over; it is treated as if someone is having lunch or you are doing some daily mundane activity. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that people don’t make fuss about it. Then there are other things due to above setting which make the characterisation here far more interesting. To find this characters’ moral streak in the above environment was a big challenge for me.
Well, as a protagonist, he has all the shades of a complete character. He loves women, sex, money and has the volatility to murder someone at any given point in time. To make people fall in love with this character seemed like an uphill task and a constant battle, something that I and Anurag fought for. We both wanted it but then it was very challenging to find a focal point to it.
Meanwhile the film also has a very interesting supporting cast in the form of Tigmanshu Dhulia and others. That must have made the film special?
Tigmanshu is fantastic. He is from National School of Drama. He is a trained method actor. He has a history of theatre acting and performances to speak of. It’s a delight to work with such actors as you get to see different techniques of acting. This definitely adds to your experience.
So what do we really see here? A political/gangster/cop drama?
This is a story of one family which kept on fighting against many power centres in their respective times. The story is linear and follows different generations of this family and how each time they fought against the powers. The story begins in 1960 when the world was changing rapidly. I play a part in second generation of this family while my kids carry forward the story as the third generation.
I am sure Anurag Kashyap must have pitched the movie in his own remarkable style.
In today’s time everybody understands that the chemistry between an actor and a director is important. You are cast because the director has trust in you and you would be able to get his vision on screen. An actor has to keep this in mind and completely surrender to a director. These factors are really important. You work as a team and explore different possibilities everyday, which make the end product better. My working relationship with Anurag has been so comfortable that I was pretty sure we would crack the plot. I am glad that instinct has come true.