#TheFamilyMan| Manoj Bajpayee Talks To Reader's Digest

Manoj Bajpayee delves into a new space with his first web series The Family Man

Divya Unny Updated: Oct 17, 2019 12:08:17 IST
#TheFamilyMan| Manoj Bajpayee Talks To Reader's Digest Image: Milind Shelte/India Today

You started out with films and [shortly after] television shows. Now you’re in a show that most people will watch on mobile phones. How has the transition been?

A community watching a film in a theatre has its own excitement and you can’t take that away. But the kind of films I have chosen to do is meant for a digital audience. They are not necessarily blockbusters; they are real and closer to life as we see it. A Gali Guleiyan or a Bhonsle won’t find takers in cinemas, but they have an online audience. The digital reach is so much larger than that of a movie hall. I think the online space is just as much a boon for independent films as it is for actors and even technicians. But I’m not in a hurry to commit to another series just because it’s working. Even here, you need to streamline and choose what you want—as I always have.

Bhiku Mhatre [in Satya], Prof. Ramchandra Siras [in Aligarh], Bhonsle [in Bhonsle]—each character you have portrayed is etched in the minds of viewers. Is it difficult to reinvent yourself?

I’ve been quite satisfied with my journey so far. The fearlessness it takes to imbibe these characters is something I feel I’m born with. Reinvention is an ongoing process where you keep working on yourself. I chase ideas and new directors to work with, and my focus is not limited to Hindi films. I personally feel that filmmakers in the South are breaking new ground—Vetri Maaran, who made Aadukalam and Lijo Jose Pellissery, who directed Angamaly Diaries. I want to work with brilliant minds like them.

Your character Srikant [in The Family Man] is a government employee and a spy. How did you segregate the two personalities?

It’s a very interesting character. He’s a Brahman from Banaras married to a south Indian woman. He has two kids who look down on their father because he’s a government employee, and his own brother thinks he’s good for nothing. He’s a simple man—doesn’t behave like James Bond. That’s what I like about him and that’s what helped me build the character. He also has this other life—as a spy—that he can’t reveal to anybody. He’s constantly balancing the sanity of his life back home and the insanity of his profession as a spy. His only superpower is that when he gets a mission, he becomes focussed and can go to any length to accomplish it.

What’s next?

There are multiple projects but it’s too early to talk about them. Films are not my bread and butter. They are my passion. When I came from Delhi to Mumbai, I never thought I’d be doing films. It was only about acting. I don’t look at it in terms of how many films I’ve done in a year. That way, I’m able to commit only to films that I completely believe in. It’s been like that from the very beginning—and it’s probably the reason I have survived this long as an actor.

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