The actor, ready with his next Aiyaary, talks about fandom and luck in Bollywood.
Manoj Bajpayee is a bit of an enigma. A stellar actor and a star in his own right, his fans include the who’s who of the film industry too, including Amitabh Bachchan. But Manoj has no hang ups about stardom.
“The thing is that stardom of any particular personality plays an important role in the life of Indian audiences,” he mulls. “They like to become like their favourite actor and even follow their style statements and mannerisms. In my opinion, Amitji’s stardom means a lot to millions of his fans, and is unmatchable.”
A private person himself, Manoj isn’t fond of the overexposure of today’s actors. “Stars now are easily available. They’re seen all over, with interaction on their social media too. But still, the attraction to know more about their favourite star will remain. Stardom goes on,” he smiles.
Now waiting for the release of his next, Aiyaary, Manoj thinks he has been lucky to work with some stellar names in the industry. He says, “God has been very kind to me, and I’ve gotten performance oriented roles. I must thank directors like Ram Gopal Varma, Prakash Jha, Neeraj Pandey and Anurag Kashyap, who believed in me and could see me in different roles. Up to this day, the director’s trust in me is like a chance to be able to give my best in these roles and keep my fans happy. I agree that it’s because of my fans that I’m here. There are few who wait for my movies and watch it in theatres.”
So, will he be seen working with Prakash again? Chortles Manoj, “Ab toh woh actor ban gaye gain. Hamare pet pe laat maar di hai! (He’s turned actor now and has taken away our livelihood).”
His movie Aiyaary seems to be playing a cat and mouse game with Pad Man, with the two earlier clashing on January 26 and now on February 9, with a changed release date. However, Manoj has no qualms. “Akshay toh aaj bhi hamare hain (Akshay is still ours). First we were to release on January 26, then we realised Pad Man and then Padmaavat were to release on the same date too. Being aware of the theatre problems here, we decided to move our date. But now Pad Man too will release with us. If the almighty wants us to release our movie alongside Akshay’s, it’s a good thing, isn’t it?” he smiles.