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I?ve never worked for BO: Manoj

He is all set to get back on track with a slew of interesting films, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2006 16:45 IST

Barring a guest appearance in a Telugu film released earlier this year, Manoj Bajpai hasn’t had a single big screen Bollywood outing in the last year and a half.
Is the actor losing any sleep over the lengthy hiatus? He isn’t because his current go-slow strategy is part of a bigger career move.

“I have decided,” says Bajpai, “not to touch anything until I am fully convinced about its intrinsic worth., so I might as well look for acting assignments that satisfy my creative urge.”

He adds: “I read three scripts a week on an average, but of late I have come across little that has got me all excited and raring to go. I am not in this business for the money. I am a theatre actor. It’s passion for my craft that drives me. I can afford to wait for the right films and roles to come my way.”

It is easy to see why Bajpai is so wary of being in less than satisfactory projects. His last few releases - big-banner films like Fareb, Bewafaa and Intequam – did not quite shape up the way that he expected them to.

Says the now-wiser Bajpai: “All these films were helmed by established names. However, the quality of the scripts fell way short of the mark. But I do not blame anybody – the fault was entirely mine. I should have seen what was coming.”

Those avoidable setbacks notwithstanding, Bajpai is now all set to get back on track with a slew of interesting, off-the-beaten-track films that are lined up for release in the next few months.

Manoj Bajpai is looking forward to The Whisperers, an English-language psychological drama scripted by Rahul Bose and directed by Rajeev Virani.

He is looking forward in particular to

The Whisperers

, an English-language psychological drama scripted by Rahul Bose and directed by Rajeev Virani. “It’s a very, very deep film,” says Bajpai. “It was a difficult outing In fact, it was the most difficult role of my career.”

Bajpai is slated to team up with the director of Shool, E Niwas, for another cop film that will roll by the end of the year. “E Niwas will only produce this film, but he will be actively involved with the creative process. Efforts are on to rope in Anurag Kashyap as screenplay writer,” says Bajpai.

The new film, says the actor, will go beyond the honesty versus corruption theme that Shool addressed. “It will delve into the internal politics of the police force,” he adds.

Also coming up within the next few weeks is Amrit Sagar’s 1971, a film that probes the plight of Indian prisoners of war languishing in Pakistani jails. “It’s essentially a human story about men who have been forgotten by India and whose existence is denied by Pakistan. This film is dear to me because all the actors in the cast are from theatre,” says Bajpai.

1971 was shot in the middle of winter in Manali and the conditions were tough. “We faced and survived many dangers during the shoot,” recalls Bajpai. Theatre person Piyush Mishra has scripted 1971.

Bajpai, apart from playing a role in one of the three episodes directed by producer Sanjay Gupta in the upcoming ten-in-one-film Dus Kahaniya, is also close to wrapping up a film titled 90 Minutes, helmed by first-timer Iqbal Rizvi.

90 Minutes revolves around the game of football, but it more a story of one man’s struggle with himself,” says Bajpai. It is a tragic film about a former soccer player who has never tasted success in life.”

Large portions of 90 Minutes have been shot on the premises of Sanawar School, Kasauli. The remaining parts will be canned in a football stadium in Malaysia.

Clearly, Manoj Bajpai is still very much in the game.

First Published: Aug 15, 2006 19:23 IST