He made an icon of Bhiku Mhatre in the 1998 film Satya. And 14 years later, audiences are still in awe of Manoj Bajpayee’s breakthrough role as the dreaded reel-life gangster. But while Bhiku is better associated with crime than compliments, the actor who brought him to life is all praise for another onscreen gangster, Manya Surve, played by John Abraham in the upcoming Shootout At Wadala.
The two actors reportedly crossed paths on the sets of the movie, which sees Manoj play Sabir Ibrahim, a role inspired by and named after Dawood Ibrahim’s brother. That’s when John and Manoj had a “heart-to-heart” chat for almost 15 minutes about Abraham’s performance. “Given Manoj’s experience in the genre, John was very keen to have his opinion on his work in the film. Manoj apparently told him, ‘tune kamaal ka sur pakda hai (you have caught the right pulse), don’t let it go. There’s no need to do anything else.’ Those words made John very happy,” says an insider.
When contacted, Manoj admitted that he thought John “looked very good” in the film. “Whatever portions I have seen, I can say that John has worked very hard on his appearance. He comes across as a sincere guy and if you are sincere, half the battle is won for any actor.”
Interestingly, director Sanjay Gupta had also shown the film to Manoj before the actor joined the cast. “He was completely floored,” claims Gupta, adding, “I asked him about John’s performance and if he could improve it. But Manoj assured me that he was on the right path.”