Raw, gritty, intense and flawless in his performances, Manoj Bajpayee, in his over two-decade career, has infused life into many a movies, without feeling the need to leave the audience happy. That’s not my job, says the widely acclaimed actor in his straight as an arrow style.
“My job is not to make you happy. As a filmmaker and as an actor, my job is not to make you feel happy. If you’re used to those kind of films, don’t come and watch my films,” Manoj told IANS here.
But he was quick to add: “This is not an arrogant statement, this is a statement of a creative person.”
All the great novelists never tried to make anyone happy, but instead, wrote what they wanted to write, Manoj pointed out, and said: “In the end, they have been paid off by the love of the audience. So, similarly, filmmakers are not supposed to make you happy.”
“If they have a story which will make you happy, that would be accidental.”
The actor, who has left an indelible mark with his performance as a gangster in Satya, policeman in Shool, gang lord in Gangs of Wasseypur, greedy politician in Raajneeti, CBI officer in Special 26, a gay professor in Aligarh and more, said there are always going to be disturbing stories which will leave the audience uncomfortable.
“This is the story that the writer wanted you to see, the actor wanted to perform and the filmmaker wanted to make. So, our job is to tell the stories and bring them to the screen, and an audience’s job is to sit and enjoy that story, and take in whatever they can take from the film.
“And those are the films that are known for their greatness. When ‘Pyaasa’ was released, everybody felt very disturbed… But today, ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ are supposed to be iconic films. So, these are the kind of films I will be known for and remembered for. That is my strife,” the actor added.
Manoj’s portrayal of a man trapped within the walls and alleys of Old Delhi and his own mind in the upcoming film Gali Guleiyan, has won him the Best Actor honour at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) here — a feat he feels wouldn’t have been possible in India in a crowd of mainstream actors.
His performance also stands out in “Love Sonia”, a hard-hitting drama on sex trafficking. While several actors say they keep alternating between heavy dramas and light-hearted affairs, it’s not the same story in Manoj’s filmography.
“It doesn’t happen with me,” he said.
“When an artiste says that after two heavy films, let me do a light one, somewhere they want to balance it out for the audience, not for themselves.
“I’m an actor because I love acting and my romance with this craft called acting is too intense. I’m in this business for a very selfish reason, and that is me, and nobody else. The audience loving it, is by chance.”
What attracted him to Dipesh Jain’s Gali Guleiyan was the content, which looks at the other “claustrophobic” side of the colourful picture that several movies have manifested of Old Delhi in the past.
“I was disturbed so much that I wanted the shooting to end. That’s how trapped I felt when I was doing the film,” he said.
How did he let it out?
“My outlet? That time I finished a bottle of wine,” he smiled.
On a lighter note then, “Red wine or white?”
“White wine,” he laughed.