Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY -

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?”

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