Gali Guleiyaan actor Manoj Bajpayee completes 25 years in the film industry next year. Entering Indian cinema at a time when it was easier to typecast an actor in a particular role, Manoj managed to hold his own and preferred to sit at home than sign every film which came his way. Recently, as he sat down for an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the actor narrated, “Twenty years back, when I came in the industry, I was offered only the roles of villains. I rejected them and took the risk of sitting at home. Those roles were not written for an actor like me. I did one film in a year or one film in two years, but what does one do with oneself. Reading or watching films was all I could do, but I had to take that risk of no money and no film.”
Sharing his thoughts about typecasting of actors in Bollywood, the 49-year-old actor added, “They will try to typecast you but it’s up to you if you agree to be typecast or not. They could not typecast me until now. If Manoj Bajpayee does a Bhiku Mhatre or Sardar Khan, he also does a Rajneeti or Special 26 or Aiyaari or Aligarh or Gali Guleiyan. So, it’s up to you if you are ready to take the risk of sitting at home and reject the idea of being stereotyped. Nobody can force you to be stereotyped. If you have the guts to take the risk of sitting at home and wait for the right script that would challenge you, then you can always keep away the fear of being typecast. It’s the lure of money and work which is difficult to push away but at the end of the day, it’s your decision.”
Last seen in Satyameva Jayate, Manoj’s upcoming films includes Love Sonia and Gali Guleiyan. Claiming that it is a great time to be an actor, the Gangs of Wasseypur actor said, “The independent films are very strong these days. Some exciting movies are happening. So, I like to be a part of great scripts that are offered by new filmmakers. I would say it’s a great time to be an actor. I always say Rajkummar Rao has come in at the right time and at the right age. He is reaping the fruit of the plant which we watered with our hard struggles.”
Further in the conversation, Manoj Bajpayee talked about his film Gali Guleiyan, a psychological drama set in Old Delhi. In it, he plays the role of a paranoid man Khuddoos struggling with his impounded psyche. “Gali Guleiyan is a kind of an experience which the audience hasn’t ever got before. It’s a story which no other filmmaker has tried in the country and the testimony of it being different is it’s screening in more than 23 film festivals,” he said.
Explaining his character, Manoj added, “Nobody in this world would like to be in the mental zone this character Khuddoos is in. He is the kind of character we always ignore. You will find him sitting on the pavement, but you will tend to ignore him because of your fear that he may pounce on you. You see such characters on the pavement or on the streets every day, but you get very suspicious about them or declare them as a madman.”
When asked if his character Khuddoos affected him, Manoj Bajpayee responded by saying, “On the 24th day of the shoot, I told my director to wrap it up fast because I felt I was on the verge of a breakdown. So they rescheduled the shoot.” Further, when we asked the Satya actor about the withdrawal symptoms of his characters, he replied, “There are always withdrawal symptoms. When you go back to your place, a character stays intensely with you and it takes time to get out of it. However, it’s not that you can take out all of it, some part of it stays with you forever.”
Watch Gali Guleiyan trailer here
Gali Guleiyan is helmed by a debutant director Dipesh Jain and Manoj is excited about collaborating with him. “It’s always exciting to work with a new director because a new filmmaker is a grown-up version of cinema. He is inspired by the work of filmmakers from all over the world and is competing with talents who are there making some great stories. His inspiration is different, so his storytelling is different. And his expectations from the actors are different. This gives you great opportunity to update and upgrade yourself and be as good as he has expected from you,” asserted Manoj.
Later, when we asked Manoj Bajpayee if he thinks we are still hero driven or the change is happening, he said, “I think its still same just the dynamism of it has changed. You don’t see those crazy fans now. The euphoria of Khans is no longer there. The stars are much more approachable today and look more human in comparison to the yesteryear stars who appeared to be someone coming out of fairytale stories. Today stars attend functions, they are on social media and are more visible.
“But that cinema is still there. People go in huge numbers to watch an action or a romantic film. But at the same time because of all the multiplexes and so many filmmakers and new stories coming up, independent films have taken a shape. But where they are lacking is in exhibition and distribution. I think that sector is still struggling to come out of this mainstream mentality. That is where the block is,” he added.