Manoj Bajpayee, who is currently spending the lockdown period in Uttarakhand, is happy that his recent release Netflix’s Mrs Serial Killer trended at number one for a week on the streaming platform. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the actor shared his experience of collaborating with director Shirish Kunder post their short film Kriti (2016), and why he would want his movies Gali Guleiyan and Bhonsle to also release on streaming platforms.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
How do you feel when fans say they watched Mrs Serial Killer because of you?
The reason can be anything, me or Shirish (Kunder) or Jacqueline (Fernandez). What’s important is people watch it and have their own opinion about it. People in our country made it trend on number one for seven days, which is quite an amazing feat.
Why did you sign Mrs Serial Killer?
I was aware of the story. Shirish and I live in the same building. We regularly meet each other, and have also worked in a short film, Kriti. He had shared this script with me. Out of the blue, he approached me to do this role. And for me the reason was more than the script or anything, it was to go with Shirish’s conviction since he wanted me to be a part of it. Sometimes the director, if he is person you know, becomes far bigger than anything else.
How do you rate Shirish Kunder as a director?
I’ve been maintaining it since the time we worked on Kriti that he has a very unique way of treating his scenes and his storytelling is completely different. I have realised that Shirish’s films usually grow on the audience over time.
Mrs Serial Killer is led by a female character. Have you ever felt any inhibition while taking up such projects?
Right after Satya, I did Kaun which was led by Urmila Matondkar. After that I did Zubeidaa which had Karisma Kapoor and Rekha. Then I did Pinjar that had Urmila again. So these type of things don’t even occur to me. It has to be a fantastic script and my role needs to be sketched out. That’s all I want.
You’ve played grey characters before. How do you approach such roles?
For a character like Dr Mrityunjoy Mukherjee, you have to understand the mind and the backstory of the character. If those things are clear, you will find reasons for his actions. Shirish wanted me to get that humour into that disturbed mind.
The film had an unusual cast – you, Jacqueline Fernandez and Mohit Raina. Do you ever fear such factors can backfire?
I don’t think so. The audience always watches a film with an open mind. And if it is done with conviction and the storytelling is engaging, they lap it up. But if they find anything fake, pretentious or anything which is not done with complete sincerity, then you have a problem.
Your next project to be released is The Family Man 2. Why are you sticking to only web content of late?
The Family Man 2 will be coming soon. It has had such a humongous run. Wherever I go, people keep coming to me and talk about The Family Man. That’s such an amazing success. So, I would focus on The Family Man first, and think about anything else. I’m not in a rush to just go ahead and grab anything and everything.
Your film 1971 began trending when it had its digital release recently. Do you think there are more films which should release on OTT platforms?
Good that you asked me this question. Through you, I would really urge all the OTT platforms to have a look at Bhonsle which has got me my second Best Actor Asia Pacific award after Aligarh. So they should really grab it. Also, there’s my other film, Gali Guleiyan which has done wonders internationally, and in my opinion, that’s my best performance. It’s there for any OTT platform to acquire it any time. I really think Gali Gulleyan and Bhonsle will do wonders on streaming platforms because the audience keeps asking about these movies all the time.
You celebrated your birthday in quarantine this year. How was it?
When you see your little one making cards, and all the people from the mountains decorating the place with whatever is available, it is amazing. It was a very innovative day for me, and I loved it.
How do you see the industry changing post lockdown?
As industry people, we are quite concerned and a little apprehensive. We are waiting as to when the lockdown is going to be lifted and how theater owners are going to make a strategy to open up. My heart goes out to them because so many properties and so much overheads – How they are going to maintain it? That’s one thing. Secondly, OTT platform is going to be doing very well in the future because people are addicted to it. People have seen so much content on it. They are not going to leave the platform so easily. So filmmakers will have to be much more responsible in creating content. We really have to be innovative, experimental, engaging and quite entertaining with whatever we choose to make.
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