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Home / Bollywood / Manoj Bajpayee reveals journey from Bihar village to Bollywood, says he was ‘close to committing suicide’ after NSD rejection

Manoj Bajpayee reveals journey from Bihar village to Bollywood, says he was ‘close to committing suicide’ after NSD rejection

Manoj Bajpayee, the son of a farmer who grew up in a Bihar village, shared his incredible journey to Bollywood.

bollywood Updated: Jul 01, 2020 18:53 IST
HT Entertainment Desk
HT Entertainment Desk
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Manoj Bajpayee said that he dreamt of becoming an actor since the age of nine.
Manoj Bajpayee said that he dreamt of becoming an actor since the age of nine.

Manoj Bajpayee, the son of a farmer from Bihar, battled all odds to break into Bollywood. The recipient of two National Awards and a Padma Shri, he opened up about his journey and said that he once lost three roles in a single day.

In an interaction with Humans of Bombay, Manoj said that he aspired to become an actor since the age of nine. “I’m a farmer’s son; I grew up in a village in Bihar with 5 siblings–we went to a hut school. We led a simple life, but whenever we went to the city, we’d go to the theatre. I was a Bachchan fan & wanted to be like him. At 9, I knew acting was my destiny,” he said.

At the age of 17, Manoj left for Delhi University and started doing theatre, without telling his family. “Finally, I wrote a letter to dad–he wasn’t angry & even sent me Rs.200 to cover my fees! People back home called me ‘good for nothing’ but I turned a blind eye,” he said.

Manoj learnt English and Hindi, and applied to the prestigious National School of Drama. When he was rejected three times in a row, he was suicidal but his friends got him through his low phase. “I was an outsider, trying to fit in. So, I taught myself English & Hindi–Bhojpuri was a big part of how I spoke. I then applied to NSD, but was rejected thrice. I was close to committing suicide, so my friends would sleep next to me & not leave me alone. They kept me going until I was accepted,” he said.

After moving to Mumbai, Manoj was faced with rejections and struggles. “Initially, it was tough–I rented a chawl with 5 friends & looked for work, but got no roles. Once, an AD tore my photo & I’ve lost 3 projects in a day. I was even told to ‘get out’ after my 1st shot. I didn’t fit the ideal ‘hero’ face–so they thought I’d never make it to the big screen. All the while, I struggled to make rent & at times even a vada pav was costly,” he said.

 

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"I’m a farmer’s son; I grew up in a village in Bihar with 5 siblings–we went to a hut school. We led a simple life, but whenever we went to the city, we’d go to the theatre. I was a Bachchan fan & wanted to be like him. At 9, I knew acting was my destiny. But I couldn’t afford to dream & continued my studies. Still, my mind refused to focus on anything else, so at 17, I left for DU. There, I did theatre but my family had no idea. Finally, I wrote a letter to dad–he wasn’t angry & even sent me Rs.200 to cover my fees! People back home called me ‘good for nothing’ but I turned a blind eye. I was an outsider, trying to fit in. So, I taught myself English & Hindi–Bhojpuri was a big part of how I spoke. I then applied to NSD, but was rejected thrice. I was close to committing suicide, so my friends would sleep next to me & not leave me alone. They kept me going until I was accepted. That year, I was at a chai shop when Tigmanshu came looking for me on his khatara scooter–Shekhar Kapur wanted to cast me in Bandit Queen! So I felt I was ready & moved to Mumbai. Initially, it was tough–I rented a chawl with 5 friends & looked for work, but got no roles. Once, an AD tore my photo & I’ve lost 3 projects in a day. I was even told to ‘get out’ after my 1st shot. I didn’t fit the ideal ‘hero’ face–so they thought I’d never make it to the big screen. All the while, I struggled to make rent & at times even a vada pav was costly. But the hunger in my stomach couldn’t dissuade my hunger to succeed. After 4 years of struggle, I got a role in Mahesh Bhatt’s TV series. I got Rs.1500 per episode–my first steady income. My work was noticed & I was offered my first Bollywood film & soon, I got my big break with ‘Satya’. That’s when the awards rolled in. I bought my first house & knew…I was here to stay. 67 films later, here I am. That’s the thing about dreams–when it comes to turning them into reality, the hardships don’t matter. What matters is the belief of that 9-year-old Bihari boy & nothing else." -- HOB with @sonylivindia brings to you the story of Manoj Bajpayee, whose life has come full circle. To watch his award winning performance in Bhonsle, click on the link in bio!

A post shared by Humans of Bombay (@officialhumansofbombay) on

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Despite the rejections, Manoj did not give up. “But the hunger in my stomach couldn’t dissuade my hunger to succeed. After 4 years of struggle, I got a role in Mahesh Bhatt’s TV series. I got Rs.1500 per episode–my first steady income. My work was noticed & I was offered my first Bollywood film & soon, I got my big break with ‘Satya’,” he said.

Satya, a crime drama directed by Ram Gopal Varma, starred Manoj as a gangster named Bhiku Mhatre and won him a National Award for his performance. The film’s success came as a validation of his dreams. “That’s when the awards rolled in. I bought my first house & knew…I was here to stay. 67 films later, here I am. That’s the thing about dreams–when it comes to turning them into reality, the hardships don’t matter. What matters is the belief of that 9-year-old Bihari boy & nothing else,” he said.

Manoj has had two releases this year -- Mrs Serial Killer and Bhosle. Mrs Serial Killer, a Netflix original film directed by Shirish Kunder, featured him as a man framed for the serial murders of a number of women. In Bhosle, which released on Sony LIV last month, he played a terminally-ill retired police officer.

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