M NOJ BAJPAYEE
From playing a dreaded dacoit to Mumbaikaking, menacing killer to a hitchhiker, from playing mysterious characters to extreme off-beat ones, MANOJ BAJPAYEE never fails to impress the audience with his power-packed performances. He was recently seen in Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary as he played Colonel Abhay Singh, the master of disguise. An actor par excellence and inspiration to many, Manoj Bajpayee speaks to Shivani Bisht about his journey, his choice of roles and more…
What made you sign Aiyaary ? Was it the cast, plot or the director?
Well, it was the director in this case. Neeraj Pandey told me, ‘I am writing something very exciting and there is definitely an exciting role for you. So keep your dates blocked’. And that’s exactly what happened! So we have that kind of a trust between us. I have worked with him in the past and he is amazing. His stories are very different and unique.
You have dabbled in crime drama in the past. And Aiyaary falls in the same genre. How different is Aiyaary and what did it bring to your plate?
Well, the movie is out there. It is very different from the other movies that I have done in the past. The character that I have played is certainly different, it’s about the kind of love and passion he has for the
If I am offered a comedy film and if the script is amazing, then why not?”
country. He is a man who can do anything for his country. That role did bring along something new on my plate.
Was there any specific moment of nationalism that you experienced during the shoot?
Yes, indeed. There were a lot of moments throughout the movie. I always had this feeling of nationalism in me, we all do. And that’s the beauty of our country and we love it. And this movie enhanced it.
Since this role was new for you, how did you analyse your character of Abhay Singh in the movie Aiyaary?
I truly believe that my role is one of the most remarkable characters that any actor would love to play. Sometimes I wonder why Neeraj Pandey offered me this role and had not taken it to any of the bigger stars because they would have surely grabbed at it. But I feel really lucky that I got to play this role which is interesting and exciting at the same time. And I got so much of help from Neeraj Pandey for the training. My character is very honest and also somebody who will not compromise on the love he has for the country. If he thinks that anybody, is going against the nation, he will chase him… to hell! The character can kill anybody at any time. Maybe he’s sipping a cup of tea at one moment and the other second, he may shoot the other person down if he feels that he is the enemy. So he is kind of a cold-blooded person. But he is definitely very smart and clever. And he knows how to manoeuvre people and how to disguise himself. He is an expert in that.
Which was the most challenging scene in the movie?
The role in itself was very challenging, and Neeraj Pandey has helped me a lot. He has supported me throughout the movie.
How was your experience working with Sidharth Malhotra who is one of the leading NewGen heroes?
He is a wonderful actor. He is so handsome that girls tremble when they meet him. I have seen girls shivering and crying for him. He has created that impact and that’s something remarkable for such a young actor. Sidharth is extremely down to earth and a family person… you know, maa ke haath ka khaana khane wala.
Khaana reminds us of the Bihari mutton curry that you prepared for the army officials during your training sessions at Jaisalmer border… Well, it was my dad’s recipe, my wife Shabana learned it from him. So I took a picture of the recipe and made it there. Of course with the help of the chef and Sidharth who helped me make large quantities of mutton.. The jawans and the cast loved it and found
it very delicious. It was a fun day and I felt proud doing that.
The filming was done at three different locations - Delhi, Kashmir and London. Out of the three, where did you enjoy the most? Did you face any problems while shooting in Kashmir?
London was a memorable one and it was really fun shooting there. Kashmir is amazing too. People in Kashmir love tourists. People have stereotyped Kashmir and the area where we filmed, we did not face any problems there. The locals were great and interacting with them was an amazing experience.
We have seen you acting as a Naxalite, and as a CBI officer too. Would you also want to try your hands doing comedy?
Well, I have done many comedy films in the past like Jugaad, Saat Uchakkey, Dil Pe Le Yaar …they were amazing but for some reason, they didn’t work at the Box office. So if I am offered a comedy film and if the script is amazing, then why not?
Which is that one character that relate to your personality?
I have played many roles till now and it’s really hard to tell. Because each of them have so many different elements. So just naming a few elements of a character cannot define a person.
What about Ouch?
Ouch was my second film with Neeraj Pandey which people don’t really know about. It was a short film. Also, I loved working in it. (Laughs)
Any message for the Stardust readers?
Thank you for all the love and support. And I hope you liked Aiyaary.
Sometimes I wonder why Neeraj Pandey offered me this role and had not taken it to any of the bigger stars?”