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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Manoj Bajpayee decodes why his characters, from Family Man to Dial 100, become so popular

Dial 100 has Manoj Bajpayee sharing screen space with Neena Gupta and Sakshi Tanwar. The Rensil D'Silva directorial thriller film is streaming on ZEE5.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
August 6, 2021 8:57:32 am
manoj bajpayee films web showsManoj Bajpayee starrer Dial 100 is streaming on ZEE5. (Photo: Instagram/bajpayee.manoj)

Manoj Bajpayee is happy that the success of his recent projects has made the young generation aware about his earlier work. “People below 19 or 16 years of age are going back to my past films and watching them, taking interest in them. So it’s a very happy situation to be in,” the seasoned actor told

Bajpayee, who’s is here with his latest thriller Dial 100 is excited yet nervous about the audience feedback. The Rensil D’Silva directorial also stars Neena Gupta and Sakshi Tanwar. The ZEE5 original revolves around a cop who gets a distress call from a woman. On his way to help her, he realises their past connect has now put his wife and kid in danger.

Holding the film’s story as its hero, Bajpayee called Dial 100 ‘a well written, more than just a thriller.’ According to him, “It is also talking about a middle-class guy who is not a good father or a good husband. He is very reluctant and reckless when it is about caring for his family. It tells the story which growing up children and their parents are facing in today’s society. It has stuff which will not leave you easily after the film is over.”

While Bajpayee revealed that the makers deliberately kept the cast away from watching the film before its release on August 6, he did agree that he’s so far heard good things about Dial 100 from its editor and technicians. “We are going to watch it with the audience and have a small party,” he said.

Bajpayee is currently the flavour of the season with back-to-back successful projects. On one hand, The Family Man Season 2 broke the web space, his short Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa in anthology Ray won hearts too. But despite the immense adulation, the ace actor says he’s unaffected and looking forward to his next.

“I’m so happy that all my projects got love and for all the directors who believed in me. The Family Man has become a global success. But I’m more interested and nervous about what I’m doing next and how I’ll be doing it on the set the next day,” Bajpayee shared candidly.

dial 100 stills manoj bajpayee Manoj Bajpayee plays a police officer in Dial 100. (Photos: ZEE5)

Rensil, who’s directed him in Dial 100 agreed that getting a yes from a stalwart like Bajpayee is something that can leave any filmmaker anxious. He said, “Any director would be lying if they say they aren’t nervous when they send a script to an actor, who they admire, especially someone like Manoj.”

Rensil, who’s previously written the script of Bajpayee starrer Aks (2001) added that though he always wanted to reunite with the actor, he was waiting to offer him the right script. Lauding Bajpayee’s humility, he said, “I must say he’s really sweet. Some people drag you through a lot to say yes. But he said yes to Dial 100 in 48 hours, and met us the next day. That’s rare and a testament to his humility. He’s inundated with scripts today, but I was kind of confident, which I’m not always, that this script had something to get him.”

manoj bajpayee aks stills Manoj Bajpayee in a still from Aks (2001), which was written by Rensil D’Silva.

The director shared that he visited a Emergency Control Centre to understand the atmosphere there and how police officers deal with regular citizens. Calling it a whole new world, Rensil told us, “Normal people don’t even know this but there are police officers who are trained psychologically only to take these distress calls about domestic violence and so many things. So that was my research. No Hindi film has gone into this space.”

He added that he lucked out in getting the three actors onboard because they helped in ensuring the emotional continuity of the movie too, give their craft and experience. “The film takes place in one night. Since films are not shot in order, so more than the continuity of that night, the emotional continuity was extremely important. You can’t do that with just good looking people or stars. You need actors for that.”

Rensil, who has films like Rang De Basanti and Student of the Year under his belt as a writer revealed on getting slotted for backing only thrillers. The writer-director has also helmed Kurbaan, Ungli and TV series 24. Crediting the digital medium for giving a creative vent to writers, he said, “In this industry, people typecast you. Rang De Basanti isn’t a thriller. When Karan (Johar) told me to write Student of the Year, I thought he was joking. He told me people are just typecasting me. As far as the longer format is concerned, we were among the first to come out with 24. People that time thought we were nuts as Naagin and such shows were our competition. Today 24 would fit very easily on an OTT platform.”


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A post shared by Manoj Bajpayee (@bajpayee.manoj)

“OTT is a great liberating medium. We can spend more time with our characters, tell more stories that normally wouldn’t have hit the big screen. There is no fear of Friday. It’s a writers medium. To write 10 episodes, which is like four feature films and keep people glued in their seats is the challenge. So the writer in me is very happy. Many people think I only like thrillers, but that’s not true. I’m completely open to a romance but no one gives it to me,” Rensil added.

Bajpayee, who’s off late given a new dimension to middle-class characters, making heroes out of common man, might not be like the regular mainstream lead, but that’s what is winning the audience. The actor agreed that’s because “everyone we see, even at a bus stop or a market in a hero in his own story and fighting a great battle.”

“Someone asked me how my characters become so popular and landmark. That’s because it is coming from the common people. They are my inspiration, those I see in a local train passing by. In my heart I’m actually saluting them who are going through so much to make something out of their lives. When we take that common man and put it in a two hour story, the audience starts relating to it. Every character I do is a tribute to them,” Bajpayee said, requesting Rensil to write a romantic story for him.

“Why can’t I romance onscreen? Challenge your mind Rensil. Write a romantic film for me  a difference!” Bajpayee concluded with a laugh.

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