You just received our third National Award after Satya and Pinjar, Best Actor for Bhonsle, a sterling performance as a retired constable who stands by a North Indian girl and her brother at the risk of angering a foot soldier of a local political party.
Yes, the ceremony finally happened after almost a year’s delay because of the pandemic. It felt fantastic to be sitting and sharing thoughts with some great names from the Indian film industry. Then, we met with the dignitaries, the bureaucrats and other members of the audience. Everyone was so welcoming. The atmosphere was happy and cheerful.
Will we see you in more films like Bhonsles in the future?
I will always be there for projects like Gali Guleiyan and Bhonsle irrespective of the genre. I will push and market these films to the best of my capacity. This award proves that independent films like these need to be seen for which they need to be promoted aggressively.
Would you say that the film industry changed since you entered it in 1994, playing dacoit Man Singh in Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen?
Of course, it’s hard to recognize it today. From being so disorganized, it’s become so very professional. So much has changed in the way schedules are planning today, budgets worked upon, content written, characters developed and films shot.
And is the audience on the right path?
They always were on the right path, but while mainstream cinema always warned against taking the audience for granted, it also dumbed them down, giving them very few options. Now, when they are watching content with a difference on OTT and making a success of it, filmmakers are finally realizing that they are not doing justice to their intelligence.
Today, Manoj Bajpayee has become synonymous with the Amazon Prime series, The Family Man. Just the teaser of Season 3 has whetted the appetite and viewers have since been asking, “When is this season coming?” Can you answer that query?
The only thing I am aware of is that the writer has started working on the basic plot. Beyond that I have no idea. The directors, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, are busy with their next project. But whenever I have a chance to talk with those associated with the project in Amazon Prime, I will definitely ask them this question.
What is great about web series like these is that each season has a limited run, no more than eight to 10 episodes. That keeps the interest of the audience from flagging. It also allows actors like me to explore all dimensions of the character.
In films, you have just two hours and those many scenes that you can do. In a series, the length of your role and the dimensions of your character are far more satisfying. That’s why, as an actor I too am looking forward to the next season of The Family Man to see which conflict zone it takes Srikant (his character Srikant Tiwari) into and how he is going to overcome the challenges.
What draws you to the character?
Srikant is from a small town, yet, he can find his way through any world in the universe. That’s the beauty of this character.
Also, even though it is a struggle, he is able to satisfy his family and still be good at his job. That’s what makes him the family man.