Though not generally seen as your conventional Bollywood hero, Manoj Bajpayee (formerly Bajpai) has played some great roles and makes an impression in every single character he portrays. Manoj looks for roles that really challenge him as an actor and only does one role at a time, so that he can fully commit to become who he is playing. This Friday, we will see him as part of an ensemble cast in the suspenseful Acid Factory, and he says it was the unpredictability of the character that made him say yes to the film. I caught him running between commitments so it was an interview on the fly, but he still stopped to give us some fabulous answers about working on Acid Factory.
What made you say yes to the role in Acid Factory?
This film is a genre that I have never gotten into before and it was coming from a person known for this kind of experimentation, this kind of a stylish action packed thriller, and he was promising me a great role. When I heard the role, I said you know, this sounds like it is going to be quite an exciting journey shooting this film and so I said yes for the film.
Tell us about your character; what makes him tick?
This guy is so unpredictable. Most of the time you feel he is very childlike, he is a very humorous kind of guy, but he changes his colors so often. Suddenly you are frightened of him, suddenly you want to adore him, suddenly you want to laugh at his world. So this kind of unpredictability is what fascinated me about the character.
So how did you find your character in order to play him? It seems he has a lot of changes, so how did you get into being him?
I do one film at a time so that gives me enough time to really get into the character. We were shooting in Hyderabad. We all locked up there and were staying in a fantastic hotel that the studio had, so that gave us enough time to stay with the film and stay with all the characters being played by all the different actors. We were actually given the support and the opportunity to be away from civilization and to just work for the film.
Was it hard to play someone who has no memory?
See, I feel that acting itself is a very, very difficult job, this is just a hard job. I try to look for something different every time and something that brings a challenge to me as an actor. This was another challenging role I have done and each and every day was a difficult day, but somehow we managed to do it. I have seen the film and it has shaped up very well. In the end, when a film shapes up well, you feel that all the effort and the hard work you have put it in, it was worth putting it in.
How was the cast to work with?
Fardeen is a guy I have never worked with and he has become a dear friend of mine. He is a very chilled-out guy, he’s the kind of a guy who likes to meet you in the evening and spend time with. Dino Morea is someone who is going to surprise everybody with his ability and he is one of the nicest guys I have come across. Danny Denzongpa: He is a senior actor and I have learned a lot from him because he is such a disciplined person. He is someone who will hit the pool at 6 o’clock in the morning and he is ready to party with you until 12 o’clock in the night. He controls his diet, is so careful about his lifestyle. I got along quite well with him. Irrfan, I knew from my theater days. We worked almost the same time when we were doing theater in Delhi.
What about Suparn Verma as a director?
Suparn is a very hyperactive person. It is difficult to match steps with him. We used to tease him by calling him Red Bull. He is somebody who is always on high. I have never seen him low in any phase of my life in this film. It was a challenge, it was a great task to come up to his expectations all the time.
When I spoke to him he said that you created the character together. How did that happen?
We used to sit on the script everyday and we used to go through the scenes everyday. Even after the shooting, we used to sit down and go through the scenes that we were supposed to be shooting for tomorrow. We chatted a lot; we worked a lot on the scenes.
What are your expectations from the film?
I am an actor, I usually don’t expect anything. I only expect that people should like the film for the sake of the producers and the producers should make money so they don’t regret making this film. I will always be very, very proud of this film irrespective of the result.
Do you think that audiences are changing and being more accepting of films that are more thrilling and little off beat?
Yeah, slowly, slowly because of the multiplexes. Slowly it is happening and happening for good.
Do you have a favorite scene in the film?
It is very difficult to choose, but my favorite scene is when I am interacting with Mr. Danny Denzongpa in my introduction scene.
Your film 1971 recently won a National Award for Best Hindi Feature Film. What does that feel like?
It means a great deal to me because I always have maintained that this is one of the best films of my career. I also feel sad that it has been completely ignored when it was released and justice was not done in marketing and promoting the film, but in the end the film has gotten its due and I am very happy about it.
What is coming up next for you?
After Acid Factory, I am looking forward to the release of Jail by Madhur Bhandarkar.
We cannot wait to see what Manoj has done with this character in Acid Factory and wish him the best of luck for the release. Make sure you check out Manoj’s performance in the twist and turns of Acid Factory this Friday. We will try and catch him again before Jail so be sure to check back here at Bollyspice often!