On a solo trip now
Manoj Bajpai has played a solo here in "Fareb" for `experimental reasons'. He shares his views on the film, the Shetty sisters and his plans.
I am sandwiched between two gorgeous women in "Fareb"
NO CHARACTER ROLES Manoj Bajpai has some tough plans ahead.
Some people know how to motivate themselves, else they would have to be content with mediocrity. So, versatile actor Manoj Bajpai, by deciding to do roles that he didn't do earlier, in a way, enthuses himself. For similar reasons, he took up the role of a flamboyant prince with a glad eye in Shyam Benegal's "Zubeidaa". He played the prince charming to Karisma Kapoor and Rekha, but had to face flak. Many commented that he didn't look like a prince. Manoj though is ready to defend his ground, "People should update their knowledge. No prince looked like Greek Gods. The film was made after a through research by Benegal ji. Can anyone fault his choice of actors?"
And he still maintains this `care-a-damn' attitude when it comes to choosing roles for himself. The proof is "Fareb", the third film by Deepak Tijori as a director, now ready for release. In the film, which features sisters Shilpa Shetty and Shamita Shetty for the first time together, Manoj plays Shamita's loyal husband and the father of a child while Shilpa plays his colleague-turned-love- interest.
"I am sandwiched between two gorgeous women in the film," laughs Manoj, adding, "and it is difficult to decide who is more attractive."
He is an adman in the film, obsessed with his work but is a dedicated husband when it comes to his family. Shilpa Shetty, a heart-broken girl, joins his office as a creative writer and soon falls for Manoj seeing how perfectly he balances his professional and personal commitments. He rebukes her in the beginning but finally succumbs to her charm. Things take an ugly turn when the wife digs out the truth.
With Shilpa, Manoj has worked earlier in "Shool" and was in the same frames withShamita in "Bewafa" earlier this year. "I am an ardent admirer of Shilpa. There are very few people in the industry who have gone through so much, are successful actors and still so rooted. She is the one who takes everything in her stride with great dignity. Both sisters are drastically different though. Shilpa is a chatterbox of sorts and very frank while Shamita is reserved and keeps thinking when on the sets. Before she does the actual scene, she tries to put herself in that situation to make the scene effective. I had a great working relationship with her," says Manoj about the siblings.
Not that Manoj chose to do the film because he wanted an image-change but because he wanted to experiment with different roles, he insists.
"I was feeling so depressed, bored, stagnated for not doing different roles. I accepted the role not because I needed an image-change but because I wanted to experiment with my acting skills. I was confident that I would manage a central character on my shoulders, so was Deepak. In fact, Deepak wanted only me to play the role. That way the role was tailor-made for me. When he came to me with the script of the film, I agreed after listening to only one line. And the film has shaped up so well. This is a character which I would have agreed to do even if it was not the central one," states Manoj. And when he talks about `experiment,' he means working upon his "physique, body language, looks and genre too."
But then character artistes get to do more experimental roles than being a solo hero. But he says, he has decided to say `no' to character roles fromnow on. "I have started disliking the word `supporting actor' and `character artiste.' When you go to a film or award functions, every one is talking about only the best actor or actress. Award to a supporting actor doesn't seem to be of much importance to many. And unfortunately, people are so enamoured by the system that they feel comfortable with that. No one talks about character artistes. Writers also write keeping only heroes or heroines in mind, howsoever important the character artiste is. I feel so pained watching this that I have decided to say `no' to character roles now."
Not that such thinking has happened after he bagged the National Award for "Pinjar" for Best Supporting Actor but because of "no change in the attitude of the film industry" except that he got verbal accolades.
But little he seems to realise that after the National Award for him, and accolades for Boman Irani who grabbed attention with "Munna Bhai M.B.B.S", people have started looking up to character artistes also.
"People, not the film industry," Manoj quips. "Boman should be given to play the central character now. He is no less in calibre. Films should be made to fully utilise talents of such actors. For long I did the so-called supporting roles. But it didn't transfer me to the mainstream scene. So no more such roles now," he asserts.
And that's what made him accept the film "1971" by Sagar Productions which has resumed film production after 25 years. "It's made on an epic scale. There is no music, dance and song in the film. I am proud to be a part of this grand affair."
And then there is Hollywood's "Searching for Sarah" directed by Nanda Anand. This film is set in colourful Rajasthan. Here, he plays Jai Singh, a man who gets introduced to an American, married lady who comes to visit Rajasthan. The film evolves around the two and the relationship that they share. "It is in post production stages in New York. First, it will be shown in different film festivals before its release in cinema halls," informs Manoj.
Despite being a part of Hollywood now, the word Hollywood doesn't make him feel great though. "I did the film because they thought I could deliver what they wanted not because I look up to them to find a hero in me. I can refuse a Hollywood film if it doesn't give me a substantial role."
And he can even refuse to be shot in certain way as perceived by the director. He can add his own ideas into it to make it "more convincing." Once such incident happened in "Fareb" too. "Fareb" was shot in Mumbai in just 40 days. Time for cinemagoers to be faithful?
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