‘During Aks, I was a nervous newcomer' | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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‘During Aks, I was a nervous newcomer'

Ten years after Aks, Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee have come together for Aarakshan. Manoj insists Bachchan hasn’t changed but their equation has. Roshmila Bhattacharya speaks to Manoj Bajpayee.

bollywood Updated: Aug 12, 2011 19:28 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

Ten years after Aks, Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee have come together for Aarakshan. Manoj insists Bachchan hasn’t changed but their equation has. “Amitji is still as professional, disciplined and energetic. But during Aks, I was a newcomer figuring out the industry, a little uneasy and nervous in his presence. He always praised me and put me at ease,” he reminisces, adding that since then they’ve met on many occasions and got to know each other well. “We both like to rehearse our scenes many times before facing the camera, and that helped during Aarakshan.”

Manoj plays a professor, who’s against the reservation policy, treats education as a business and runs parallel coaching classes. “Dr Mithilesh Singh is intelligent, flamboyant, arrogant and practical. He wants good clothes, a snazzy car, a big house and a good life.
He wants to become super rich overnight and is no different from many among us. But when he comes up against the idealism of Mr Bachchan’s character, Dr Prabhakar Anand, it shows him in a negative light,” he reasons.

Manoj is not disturbed by the fact that he may be perceived as a bad guy as he is by the fact that the film is embroiled in controversies: “We don’t make films to instigate people but entertain them. Whatever our individual opinion, we respect the law of the land.” He is thrilled that in his home state, Bihar, the Aarakshan team, particularly Bachchan, was received with overwhelming warmth. “Patna was in a state of frenzy but there was no untoward incident there or elsewhere. Even Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was in a chatty mood and treated us to rasgullas,” he smiles.

For Manoj, Aarakshan will be memorable because he had to leave the shoot in Bhopal briefly when his daughter was born. “Ava’s turned my life upside down in six months. I’ve become responsible and love my wife more,” he says.

Next up is Chittagong Uprising. “It’s a very different from Ashutosh’s (Gowarikar) Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010) though it’s the same uprising. There are no comparisons. Every film has its own destiny.”

There’s also Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wassipur that’s in the final stages of editing. Set in the coal mines of Dhanbad, it supposedly has Manoj playing a ‘desi’ Godfather? “No, I’m not an Indian Brando,” he laughs. “It’s a powerful character and I’m glad I got another chance to work with Anurag.”