Manoj Bajpayee: I am against boycotts or bans
With the rise in content consumption on streaming platforms, Manoj Bajpayee is not only enjoying a successful ride on the web, but also the fact that his older films are rediscovered by audiences. He is elated that OTT is affecting his career in a good way. “The respect I’ve got over the years has grown and the emergence of OTT has added to it. Today, people are looking up my films, which is flattering. Many of my earlier releases are getting the attention that they didn’t get back then when they released in theatres. Theatres, too, didn’t give these films enough shows or slots or the respect back then. Pinjar (2003) and Kaun (1999) have been favourites with viewers and even Satya (1998) and Shool (1999). Getting compliments even after so many years, is really inspiring and encouraging,” says Bajpayee.
With his hit web show, Family Man and the OTT boom, the Padma Shri actor is elated that actors today have so many choices but cautions that they should choose wisely. “Don’t rush. There are many exciting, interesting and out-of-the-box stories being offered to me, but I would never do anything for the heck of it,” he shares.
As he waits for the second season of his show to drop, ask him about the recent controversy with Tandav, and how makers ended up deleting the talked about scenes and the kind of precedence it set, and he says, “I haven’t seen the show and if the makers have done it, it depends on them. I think people should be a little patient and forgiving when it comes to creative content. If they don’t agree with something they can voice their opinion, even encourage like minded people not to watch it, but not ask for a ban or boycott. Banning and boycotting doesn’t do any good to any industry or any society. I am not in favour of it. There are many social media posts that I don’t agree with but I don’t want them to be taken off as I believe a healthy debate and discourse is a sign of healthy democracy,” says the two-time National award winner.
His last film, Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari (2020) released in theatres and he will soon be seen in a web original film. How important are box office numbers to him, as OTT doesn’t measure a film’s popularity on that benchmark? “I believe each film should be should be measured on basis of its quality, not on how many crores it earned at the box office. This yardstick is ruining the intention of filmmaking in India and BO mentality has left so many people on the fringe. OTT has brought in a huge change and I hope it continues to create interesting content and doesn’t fall into the stereotype or chase the success formula. What has worked in my favour is that directors have shown trust in my work and my ability to deliver. That’s how I have survived for so long in the industry without not enough box office hits in my kitty. I reiterate, I am here because of the work I have done, due to the performances admired by the industry and audiences and not because of how many crores my films have made. Actually hardly any, I think!” he honestly replies.
With back-to-back projects lined up in 2021, Bajpayee admits he doesn’t have a single free day till April 2022. “Ideally, I would love to have a gap of a month between projects but I don’t have that luxury anymore. No regrets. I am happy to be working on great scripts,” he signs off
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