MANOJ

Stardust (English) - - NEWS -

has re­cently done a bunch of films like Traf­fic, Jai Hind, Kriti, Tan­dav, Bud­hia Singh and Ali­garh, and none of th­ese come un­der the con­ven­tional com­mer­cial film bracket. So what did th­ese films bring to Manoj, con­sid­er­ing he al­ways lamented com­mer­cial recog­ni­tion. Manoj is quick to ex­plain, “They bring a lot of sat­is­fac­tion to me. I feel I have at­tained some kind of moksh (lib­er­a­tion) after I fin­ish shoot­ing for th­ese films, I am in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent zone al­to­gether. When th­ese films are over, I feel I have done some­thing worth­while with my­self. There is some rea­son for me to be on this planet. The kind of feel­ings peo­ple get from med­i­ta­tion, I get from my films.” So he didn’t think it was nec­es­sary to have a mes­sage in ev­ery film? Not overtly preachy or self-right­eous, Manoj says, “No, not at all. It is al­ways a slice-of-life, and how you look at life, and live that part of life. It’s al­ways that.” Manoj now awaits the re­lease of Bud­hia Singh, the story of the young Oriya run­ner of the same name, di­rected by an Oriya lad, Soumen­dra Padhi. The film, orig­i­nally called Duronto, won an award in the 63rd Na­tional Awards in 2015, and is now to re­lease in the com­mer­cial mar­ket. In this cur­rent cel­lu­loid mar­ket, there is a glut of biopics, fa­mous and in­fa­mous. What drove Manoj to pick the role that he played in Bud­hia Singh? Be­cause of an ex­ist­ing real life par­al­lel, it be­comes dif­fi­cult to play the char­ac­ter that is pos­si­bly still alive. Manoj re­veals that his char­ac­ter is no longer alive. He was shot dead. He ex­plains fur­ther, “I was fol­low­ing the story in real life – in ac­tual time. Even when it was hap­pen­ing, the coach caught my eye be­cause he con­tra­dicted him­self in ev­ery interview. And I re­alised what a char­ac­ter he was! His logic in places was scat­tered, and so he was all tat­tered. He didn’t know any­thing and he couldn’t put two and two to­gether. But his in­ten­tion was so right.” Okay, so this Manoj came to know when he was ini­tially fol­low­ing the story. But how did the story and Bi­ranchi Das (the char­ac­ter of the coach, that he plays) come to him? Sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion he has. “One of the part­ners in Code Red is my best friend, Ga­jraj Rao, him­self a mar­velous ac­tor and fa­mous ad- film di­rec­tor. The idea for the film came from them and they de­cided to ap­proach me. The di­rec­tor of the film Soumen­dra (Padhi) was as­sis­tant to Ga­jraj, he had done the re­search, writ­ten it and done ev­ery­thing.” But he was a first­timer as well. To which Manoj says, “I have watched so many of his films.” Manoj’s eyes crin­kle in a smile at the rec­ol­lec­tion as he says, “If you look at him, he is slight per­son with a very pleas­ant face. But he is the most stub­born per­son I have ever met in life. He wanted what he wanted. And very po­litely he used to go on...Like a fly buzzing in your ears…did he re­ally have his shot…did he have what he wanted…” So, did that test the se­nior­ity as an ac­tor within Manoj? He him­self is not known to pos­sess the Pa­tience of Job. He grins like a cat, “Mostly I was with the di­rec­tor. Though at times, when I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and he didn’t agree to it, that was when my se­nior­ity started as­sert­ing it­self.” And how many times did that hap­pen in the course of Bud­hia Singh? Ami­ca­bly re­solved, as Manoj de­scribed, “We de­cided to have one take of my choice and one

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