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Retirement Expo 40After40: I Am Bihari And I Am ‘Ziddi’, Says Manoj Bajpayee

Speaking of his personal journey, Bajpayee says that the time he has seen from age 18 to now has been nothing but a dream and purely magical

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Pragya Vats
January 24, 2024
At Retirement Expo 40After40 Manoj Bajpeyee Spoke Candidly

At Retirement Expo 40After40 Manoj Bajpeyee Spoke Candidly

Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee was one of the special guests at Outlook Money’s 40After40 Retirement Expo on Wednesday, the last day of the event, where he regaled the audience with his hilarious puns, and one-liners about his roles and struggles in the movie industry. At Retirement Expo 40After40 Manoj Bajpayee Spoke Candidly about his journey. In a conversation with Chinki Sinha, Editor, Outlook India, the acclaimed actor talked about his choices and chances, going far and deep into exploring the unusual characters on screen.

Bajpayee is known for playing characters that many mainstream actors dread to tread. “I am Bihari and I am ‘Ziddi’ (stubborn),” he maintains.

“Gali Guleiyan” was one such choice where he played a character haunted by hallucinations. “It was a hard choice for me. The kind of work I want to do don’t release in theatres. That has been my logic of choices I have made in my life,” says Bajpayee.

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Narrating an incident, he says, “I was sent a script by a friend of Guneet Monga. The language used and the way the character was etched, it gripped me. I didn’t know the director who was also a writer,” and he wanted to meet him before saying yes to the film that had already piqued his interest. But the role took a toll on him.

“On 29 day of the shoot, I felt that there was cooker whistle ringing in my ears. I realised something was wrong and I spoke to the director. After consulting the doctor, I was put on sedatives. I chose the role and I did because I wanted to go that far and deep into the dark depth of a character. I am madochistic when it comes to acting,” he declares.

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Speaking about his struggle, he says that it was after nine years of doing theatre Shekhar Kapoor saw one of his candid photographs that Tigmanshu Dhulia had shared with the director, and the “Bandit Queen” movie happened.

“However, I was a tentative casting for a character and (actor) Nirmal Pandey was also being considered. He is such a good looking guy and I was certain that I will lose that role to him,” says Bajpayee. But there was the role of Man Singh, which Naseeruddin Shah was playing, who opted out for some reason and Bajpayee got to play his character in Bandit Queen.

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Regarding offers for movie roles, Bajpayee says, “I am often the first to be contacted but also the last one to be confirmed.”

Speaking of his personal journey, he says that the time he has seen from age 18 to now has been nothing but a dream and purely magical.

“Patna is like NY (New York) for every Bihari, a two days journey from my village by road. I saw Patna for the first time when I took a train to Delhi. I was scared to witness a big city for the first time. I had butterflies in my stomach. It was like going to Riverdale for Archies,” he says.

So, how does he deal with the choices that come with the profession he is in?

“I don’t want a robotic life. If I can’t have ‘chai at tapri’, I damn that life. I don’t want that life. “You can’t be enslaved by your life,” he asserts.

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