Manoj Bajpai is in a talkative mood when we catch up with him. The actor has a release next Friday in choreographer-turned director Ganesh Acharya’s Swami. We talk at length over the phone:
Where are you? You are hardly on screen today…
You should complain to the directors who are giving scope to others and not me. Whatever offers I get, I choose the best out of them. All the great roles or scripts do not necessarily come to me first.
Don’t you feel bad about this?
I have nothing to prove now. I have reached a position where I don’t need to tell the world what I am capable of. If roles are going to big stars it only means that directors are looking for a saleable project rather than a creative one. But meaningful cinema is happening somewhere. If big stars are encouraged to do offbeat roles, it is also because Manoj Bajpai started this trend with Satya. The kind of unconventional roles I have done has gained loads of appreciation from people and critics.
<b1>So the star system still exists…
The star system will always exist. It exists even in Hollywood.
Do stars hesitate to share screen space with you because you might overshadow them?
I have heard it from so many directors who wanted to do films with me, which required two heroes. Those films could not happen because to convince the other star was very, very difficult. It amazes me because I am here to do my job and go home. If that is intimidating some, I can’t help it.
Why did you do Dharmesh Darshan’s Bewafaa?
It was a mistake. I have made three or four mistakes in my 14-year career. But I feel proud since there are people who have made 40 mistakes in their career. At times what happens is that you have a certain perspective on a project and when you shoot for it you realise it’s totally different. But you can’t leave because of the contract.
What about Swami…
It’s a simple story. It talks about the relationship between a husband and a wife in the most unique fashion at a time when films on extramarital affairs are so common. It is not exactly about hugging and kissing.
How was it working with Juhi Chawla?
She is still so passionate that it is admirable. There has been so much growth in her as an actor after marriage.
You got international recognition with The Whisperers. Your co-star Rahul Bose is always praising you…
Rahul is a dear friend. He has this sheer passion for life. It was he who roped me in. It is satisfying to get international recognition since it was a difficult film to do.
I give you a Yash Raj film with Madhuri Dixit and The Whisperers… which would you go for?
Come on that’s a safe answer…
No, it’s not safe. I might go for The Whisperers.