Manoj Bajpayee: It was satisfying to show that every human being is vulnerable

This year has been extraordinary for Manoj Bajpayee, who has seen three successful projects on screen. His remarkable performances in Gulmohar, Sirf Ek Banda and Zoram not only won him critical acclaim but was also loved by audiences across the globe. Apart from earning several awards and honours, the actor created history as Just Ek Banda became the first film to be released in theaters after a successful run on OTT. Looking towards 2023, Bajpayee breathes a sigh of relief and says, “I am happy that this year, all my pre-pandemic commitments are over.”

It’s been a great year for Manoj Bajpayee with one successful project after another.

While one might look at it as three successful performances in a row, Bajpayee looks beyond that. “What is remarkable for me is that within a year, people saw me playing a character who comes from a privileged class (Gulmohar), middle class (Just Ek Banda) and a completely downtrodden class (Joram) . This is my achievement. Showing that every person (from every class) is conflicted and insecure and everyone has to fight their own battles was gratifying for me as an actor. I found the audience appreciating my acting because they could relate to me in all those characters. It’s a compliment to me,” he explains.

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As he talks about investing enough time in understanding each role, was there anything to learn from those characters? Bajpayee clarified that there is nothing that he takes away from the character, however, in the process of giving it a shape, he learns a lot. “My main takeaway is the education I get while creating those characters,” he says.

Bajpayee further explains, “It could be a conversation I had with the director or during my research for the role. For example, when I was doing Joram, I understood about marginalized people and the impact displacement has on a person… how a small crime turns into a big mistake. I got to learn a lot more things that a marginalized person goes through.”

This year was made even more special for him by film festivals, which appreciated and appreciated all his films. “My films have gone to film festivals in the past and have been awarded in various categories. It feels good to be appreciated. However, despite all the appreciation, releasing those films theatrically is a different ball game. We know there are not many people who will be patrons of it, but still you go and get a screen for a section to watch and review,” he shares.

But he is happy that his film Zoram could bring change in the system. “After the pandemic, the type of content consumed has changed. Most of the audience wants to watch potboilers and meanwhile a film like Zoram comes and impresses the audience. He is liking it so much that he has become a promoter of the film. They are shouting things like, ‘If you don’t watch this film, don’t complain that we are not making good and meaningful cinema.’ This is much bigger than box office numbers. This is a sign of good times to come. Joram’s contribution will be counted in the future. I’m not optimistic, I’m sure about it,” he shares.

He will continue to work on the kind of films most people love to watch, but will also strike a balance by releasing projects that talk about bigger issues. “Just because the audience is liking a particular kind of films, it does not mean that we should avoid releasing films like Zoram in theatres. We should do it in a practical way with limited screens and use word of mouth to promote it,” he concluded.