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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Manoj Bajpayee: Would have never been offered a film like The Family Man

Manoj Bajpayee on his first web series The Family Man, working with director duo Raj-DK and the digital medium.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai | Updated: September 19, 2019 7:32:20 pm
The Family Man show The Family Man will start streaming from September 20 on Amazon Prime Video.

Manoj Bajpayee’s The Family Man will start streaming from September 20. The 10-part Amazon Prime Video series, helmed by filmmakers Raj and DK, also stars Priyamani, Sharib Hashmi, Neeraj Madhav, Sharad Kelkar, Sunny Hinduja and Shreya Dhanwantary among others.

The Family Man is said to be inspired by news stories and features a family man (Manoj Bajpayee) who apart from being a ‘world-class spy’, also happens to lead a dysfunctional personal life. The series promises a refreshing take on the life of a spy, who not only actively participates in taking on bad guys on the field, but tries to maintain a familiar rhythm back home.

Manoj Bajpayee recently sat down for an exclusive conversation with where he spoke about why he chose The Family Man as his web debut, working with Raj and DK, and whether he would have got a similar project in Bollywood.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Your directors Raj & DK told us that you said yes to The Family Man in just 20 minutes.

The Family Man is a clutter breaker on the web. There is a pattern on the digital medium that makes me uncomfortable. Most fall for the same trick in format by using violence, sex and goriness to get eyeballs. I was somewhere very clear that I don’t want to do anything like that. The Family Man is something very unique, interesting and relatable. From my past work, you know, I am not averse to sex and violence but cannot do it to just to get some buzz.

Was that the reason you stayed away from the medium for so long?

It was indeed bothering me somewhere. Fortunately, The Family Man offered me everything that was not there on the web, and I am happy to be making my debut with this series.

Tell us more about your character in the show.

As the title tells you, the story is about a family man who is trying to create a balance between a demanding family and a demanding job. While he is striving hard to excel and is being celebrated in his professional life, the personal side has a different story to tell. He is taken for granted by his family who also feels that he is good for nothing. On the surface, it’s the story of every man who works at a usual nine-six job, and then we, of course, have the action-packed spy drama.

Since you have a demanding job in real life, did you find any resemblance to the character?

Forget about me, I think every person will relate to Srikant Tiwari. And not just in India but all over the world.

Raj and DK are known to be new-age filmmakers. Tell us about your experience working with them.

They are so modern in their approach, thought process and how they tell the story. It was a privilege working and collaborating with young minds like them. While shooting, I also realised we think so much alike on many subjects. We even have the same temperament. It was great working under their direction. Also, what’s most unique about them is how well they understand each other. Throughout the schedule, I never saw them debating or discussing. It all comes so naturally to them, as they keep improvising things. Unlike many, these filmmakers are also very open to suggestions and would welcome discussions before the shoot.

With times changing in the film industry, do you feel you would have got to shoulder a commercial film like this?

This question doesn’t hold any relevance. We all know I would have never got something like this. Let’s not live in a fool’s paradise to believe that. If a filmmaker was to make this as a commercial film, they would have never got Manoj Bajpayee to play the lead. It would be an illusion to even think like that.

Actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan have also made a mark on the digital space. Do you feel the web has opened new doors for talented artists?

I don’t think it’s a gate for me as I have been working for 25 years and have done a great number of roles in commercial and independent cinema. But yes, I am happy the digital space has been consuming great talent, especially the ones people were not familiar with. Today, if you are good at your job, and are not being consumed in films, you, at least, have the web.

You have never been afraid to take chances or experiment with roles. What keeps the fire still burning in you?

I think I was just born this way, with anger (laughs). But I really believe that one should use all the avenues that are present there. As an artiste or a creative person, every platform that one has access to should be used for their advantage. That’s how I look at it. I think this would be the idea or hallmark of any person who wants to be successful and do everything they want to.

Having started your journey on television and even hosting a crime series Encounter, what has kept you away from the small screen all this while?

Nothing as such. I consider web as part of the small screen. The digital space gives a lot of freedom for writers to think as compared to TV. But I am always open for good content.

This year started on a positive note with you being awarded the Padma Shri. How satisfied do you feel as an actor presently?

I think one can never be satisfied. But yes I am very happy that I have come this far. When Satya released, if someone had told me that Manoj Bajpayee or someone like him would still be working successfully, I wouldn’t have thought it will be possible. It is all about perseverance. And I do have to thank many actors, directors and people for the same, especially Ram Gopal Verma.

What’s next for you?

I have Mrs. Serial Killer, the Netflix film by Shirish Kunder along with Jacqueline Fernandes. It’s a beautiful film and I must add that Jacqueline has done a great job. Then, of course, there’s Bhonsle, which is taking the festival route. Don’t know when it would be released theatrically.

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