Monday, 15 July, 2024, Reg No- 06
Advance Search

Manoj Bajpayee

Reviewed by Naveen Chandra

Published : Saturday, 6 July, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 564

Manoj Bajpayee

Manoj Bajpayee

From Belwa to Bollywood, how an ordinary man surpassed obstacles to make it big in movies and gave us memorable characters like Bhiku Mhatre and Shrikant Tiwari…

After watching a film, if you remember the character, then the person who played that is a good actor. But if you remember the actor who played the character, the person who played that is a star. Actors die with their characters, stars live on.
So says Manoj Bajpayee in The Definitive Biography, pointing out why despite portraying numerous unforgettable characters in his career: Bhiku Mhatre (Satya), Sardar Khan (Gangs of Wasseypur), Ganpat Bhonsale (Bhonsale) or Shrikant Tiwari (Family Man), to name a few, he is still not considered a star.
The author, journalist Piyush Pandey, was inspired to write Bajpayees biography when he learnt that, like him, Manoj also grew up in a small village, couldn speak English, dreamt of a career in films, attempted many times to get into film school and failed. But, unlike him, Manoj went on to carve an admirable career in Bollywood. Fascinated by Manojs success, Pandey shadowed him for over a decade to understand how he made it from a small village called Belwa to Bollywood, despite his ordinariness. The book is the result of that effort.

If the book leaves you with anything, its that Manojs life has been full of tremendous strife. His single-minded pursuit to become an actor threw at him so many obstacles and much rejection, but how labored on, nevertheless, not giving up in the face of adversities, to carve out an identity in the film industry.

Pandey fills the early part of the book with some very unnecessary detail, distracting us from the person we want to know. He claims that Mohandas Gandhi became Mahatma in Champaran, where centuries ago, Sita and Buddha had spent time here in their journeys and where, years later, Manoj Bajpayee would be born. Pandey writes about the cost of the hospital he was born in and trivia about his family that don add to the story.

Its only when he starts chronicling Manojs journey through his struggling days in the theatre circuits of Delhi and eventually, helped by his friends, into Bollywood, that the book picks up steam.

Undeterred by his multiple failures to qualify for National School of Drama, he joined many theatre groups. One of his first memorable roles was as a character whose girlfriend marries someone else. Manojs performance as a loser was the highlight of that play.

Its an irony that thats how Manojs career seems to have played out -- making an impact while mostly playing character roles. Pandey writes about many such films where after having been offered the main role by the Director, he was instead asked to play the second role or a prominent character.

Shekhar Kapur wanted him to play the dashing dacoit Vikram Mallah in Bandit Queen, but substituted him with Nirmal Pandey, who, according to Kapur, was better looking and more handsome. The writer quotes Kapur as saying that Nirmal Pandey was so attractive that he had to sack one of his British make-up team members, who showered love on the star publicly. Eventually, Manoj Bajpayee played Mann Singh, a role that didn have any dialogues and a major portion of what he shot for, was cut from the final film.

Director Ram Gopal Verma promised him the titular role in Satya but substituted him and Manoj had to settle for the character of Bhiku Mhatre, although he performed that to much acclaim. Prakash Jha, who belongs to the same village as Manoj Bajpayee, didn cast him in any of his films till nearly 18 years after his debut, he gave him a role in the multi-starrer, Rajneeti. Even when Govind Nihalani cast Manoj and his friend Vineet in Droh Kaal, Manoj got the minor role.

Pandey says Manoj was removed from projects largely due to his intense method acting. There were no takers for his theatre experience, and he would summarily be rejected either for his height, weight or lack of sex appeal and charisma. Some didn like Manojs sense of camera or his diction.

The chapter on the making of the film, Satya, is very interesting. In a lot of ways, Satya was more than a film. It changed the Hindi film industry by giving hope to millions who have faced rejections, put a stop to formula films, built careers of many people associated with it, pushed young filmmakers to break rules, created the new realistic commercial cinema wave and became a cult classic.

More than anything, itll be remembered for giving us Manoj Bajpayee.

Manoj Bajpayee tells Pandey that despite the immense success and popularity of Satya, none of his films for a decade after worked at the box office. Even after Bandit Queens success, he was the only one from the cast who didn have a film role offered to him.

"People work as per commercial formula, but I work as per my belief" says Manoj, defending the films he chooses to do. He has managed to survive in this jungle with his grit, self-belief, and the undying passion for his craft, opines the author.

Another poignant irony Pandey points out is how in stark contrast to the many plays in which his characters fought issues of inequality, caste, and class, when Manoj Bajpayee married outside his caste, it created much turbulence in his family leading him to separate from his first wife.

From the writing, it is evident that the author hero worships Manoj Bajpayee. If you ignore that tone, the book is a good, first-hand account of how Manoj Bajpayee managed to live his dream in Bollywood, despite the many, seemingly unsurmountable obstacles in his way.

Read the book to understand why Manoj has been an inspiration to a battery of people like Anurag Kashyap, Pankaj Tripathi and many others from small towns who dream of making it big in Bollywood.

Barry John, his acting coach, says, Manojs best is yet to come! Perhaps, one day, just like his character in Satya, Manoj will stand and shout from the rocks at Bandstand Mumbai ka King Kaun?


Latest News
Most Read News
Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka.
Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000.
Phone: PABX- 41053001-06; Online: 41053014; Advertisement: 41053012.
E-mail: info©, news©, advertisement©, For Online Edition: mailobserverbd©
  [ABOUT US]     [CONTACT US]   [AD RATE]   Developed & Maintenance by i2soft