“Acting is the most difficult thing in the world for me!” says award winning actor Manoj Bajyapee

Neeru Saluja - Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh 2


For live viewing of the APSA Award ceremony tonight November 24, 2016, please go to http://www.asiapacificscreenacademy.com/the-awards/the-ceremony/ceremony-webcast/.

By Neeru Saluja

Actor Manoj Bajyapee is known for his unconventional roles, but his role as a gay professor in Hansal Mehta’s biographical drama Aligarh is making him the critics favourite.

Nominated for the Asia Pacific Screen award (APSA) as best actor for the second time, Manoj Bajyapee feels honoured yet humbled. “It’s a great feeling as APSA has grown big and it’s an honour for being recognised for a renowned award. Getting an award is secondary to me. I was quite surprised about it and am looking forward to being part of the gathering,” says the National award winning actor.

From an underworld don in Satya, a shrewd politician in Rajneeti, the ruthless gangster in Gangs of Wasseypur to an honest cop in Shool, Manoj Bajyapee has portrayed all kind of roles with ease. But playing a homosexual character has been the most challenging role of his career. Without any apprehensions, he went ahead when the role was offered to him.

“Everyone was surprised that I chose this role. Some people thought it was a suicidal decision. But at the end of the day, this role has earned me so much of respect and appreciation. I have had no doubts about it, I wanted to be a part of the film.

“When I was introduced to Professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras’s character, I realised that this person was such a nice person, and nice people are difficult to portray. It was difficult to give a grey shade to such characterisation. I have never met anyone nicer in my career than him,” tells Manoj modestly.

Homosexuality has been the reoccurring topic in Indian films this year with ”˜Angry Indian Goddesses’ and ”˜Kapoor and Sons’. Do you think our society is evolving? “The society is changing and evolving with time. They are welcoming to each and everybody. The filmmakers are now listening to the audience. Aligarh is the first film on homosexuality and has been appreciated by audience worldwide. It has received an exceptional response, the way people looked at the character, his struggle and the journey shows that the viewers have changed. Directors like Hansal Mehta and Anurag Kashyap are making great efforts to keep pace with the viewers,” acclaims Manoj.

As an actor, Manoj has always bent towards parallel cinema and acting has always played an integral role in his life. But in the past decade, he has grown immensely as an actor. “I grew up in a village and was studying in a small town, this affected my mind. During that stage legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan’s films made me aware of my passion for acting. But when I did theatre, it changed the whole dimension of acting for me. That time I was exposed to Shyam Benegal and Satyajit Ray and the entire world cinema that was available in Delhi. Since then, I never looked back in choice for films. Content films need to exist more in this country. Showing a film like Aligarh to a child will make him or her grow up to a better human being. Acting is not only meditative; I feel an actor can really contribute to the society. A character whose journey is difficult is not an easy task. Acting for me is the most difficult thing in the world, says critically acclaimed actor Manoj.

Amongst his future movies, Manoj is also getting back with Amitabh Bachchan in Sarkar 3. On this, he tells us, “I’m doing a cameo in the film and this is my fourth film with him. We have a mutual admiration for each other. He has been quite instrumental in my career by igniting the fire in me while growing up. He’s the only actor who has been a superstar, I’m totally in awe of his personality and charisma. I have great respect for his journey and the manner in which he carries himself”.

This year Manoj has also made his mark by delivering brilliant performances with short films ”˜Kriti, ”˜Ouch’ and ‘Taandav’. “I have done three short films this year. The aim for the short films is for people to get used to diehard  content on their laptop and mobiles. This is a small step to change the viewers to see content,” tells Manoj.

We wish him the best for tonight as he will be present in Brisbane for the awards ceremony. For live viewing of the ceremony, please go to http://www.asiapacificscreenacademy.com/the-awards/the-ceremony/ceremony-webcast/. He will also be doing a Q&A session in BAPFF on Sunday 27 November following a 1pm screening of the film.

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