Manoj Bajpayee: Arjun Kapoor is as desperate as I am!

 
Manoj Bajpayee: Arjun Kapoor is as desperate as I am!

Manoj Bajpayee has enthralled us with films like 'Gangs Of Wasseypur', 'Raajneeti', 'Pinjar', 'Special 26' among others. While some have shown his versatility as an actor, some have just made you love the baddie in him. 'Tevar' is yet another that has added in the long list of films in his decade long career. Ahead of 'Tevar's release, Manoj talks to us about the film, working with Arjun Kapoor, his love for unconventional films and more. Excerpts:


Run us through your character in 'Tevar'


It is not a proper commercial film. I would say it is middle-of-the-road kind of a movie. It is a story set in Mathura-Agra, a conflict set between Arjun Kapoor and me. My character has the touch of negativity, who falls in love with Sonakshi Sinha. Since I am a powerful guy of that area, I think Sonakshi is bound to be with me. However, she doesn't like me and that is where the drama starts.


During an earlier interview, you had said that you would not want to play a negative character. So what made you accept 'Tevar'?


After 'Satyagraha', I had decided not to do those kinds of roles, which is one that I will not touch for some time now. It was a hard time for me as an actor that time. But this is not that kind of character. It has grey shades and that is something which I would jump on it, anytime. If you give me a good role, I will try to make it look bad because nobody is that perfect. If you give me a character like Sardar Khan, who is an out and out bad guy, but he is the hero of the film, I can try to make him look lovable. This is what I bring to my character. If you give me any 'hero' kind of role, I will try to put a little evil into it.


You played out and out baddie in 'Aks' and 'Raajneeti'… (Interrupts…)


No 'Aks' was a character oriented role and in 'Raajneeti', I was not a bad guy. If I was bad, Ranbir Kapoor was equally bad. You call me negative only because I was pitted against Ranbir Kapoor. And you think that he is the hero. So, that is your fault because mentally you have decided good and bad. In that film there was nobody good or bad. All of them were fighting for their own right.


You have worked with directors like Prakash Jha, Anurag Kashyap among many others. How was it working with a relatively new director Amit Sharma?


I used to fight with him like a dog but since Amit is such a magnanimous kind of a director and he was junior to me, he took all the scolding from me. However, at the end of the day he is very stubborn and he will ask me to do things what he wants. Eventually, I used to melt down. But yes, wherever I could impress him, influence him in terms of my arguments; I have done what needed to be done. And yes, the end product is something that I am very proud of. Here, my character is a negative guy behaving like a teenager, falling in love. That is endearing about my character.


Have you had the kind of crush you have on Sonakshi in 'Tevar'during you teenage days?


I have had many teenage crushes but I wasn't Gajendra Singh and hence did not face such a situation. We all have had such incidences where in one just falls in love with someone and you wait to only catch a glimpse for him/her.


This is the second time you are working with Sanjay Kapoor. Earlier, he was your co-star in 'Jaago' and now he is your producer. Tell us your experience…


Boney Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor are all hardcore film buffs. They don't question the actor or director once. If the director wants something, they will provide it immediately. If I wanted certain kind of perks or comfort, I was provided with them immediately. But at the same time, I also had to give my best. Those guys are willing to go to any length to provide you with the best of facilities. As a producer he is always quiet, looking at the happenings from distant whereas as an actor he is very charged-up, excited and shows his emotions always.


What do you have to say about the younger lot, especially Arjun Kapoor, now that you have worked with him in 'Tevar'?


What I relate to him is that he is as desperate as me. I am a very desperate actor. I want everything today. I relate to Arjun Kapoor and he is very hard working. The only advantage he has is that he comes from a hardcore filmy family like Boney Kapoor's, who understand business from the back of their head. Yet he is down to earth, practical and realistic. That makes him a great guy to work with. And I have become a big admirer of Arjun Kapoor as a human being and as an actor definitely. He is a lovely chap, brought up so well.


In the last episode of Satyamev Jayate Season 3, it was shown that films are one of the reasons that inspire men to misbehave with women, for instance in 'Tevar', there is a scene where you are pulling Sonakshi by her hair. Do you agree?


No, I am not pulling her by her hair. I am just dragging her. If you see the film, you will realize that I am asking her to not scream fearing what people will think. I am very responsible when it comes to these things. But I don't think films can be blamed for this. Of course, there are irresponsible films but most of them are not. Some filmmakers do anything to titillate the audience. And that is why, I am not part of those films. I don't like to be a part of the project where content is secondary.


Few small films that you have done like 'DusTola', '1971', 'Swami', 'Chittagong' among others didn't work. Does that demotivate you?


It doesn't demotivate me definitely because these are films for which I am known for. I believe in such films. After 'Tevar', all the films that are lined up are small films. They deal with different subjects. However, times are changing now. People are ready to back them. So, I will continue to make those kinds of films. I may even co-produce them. Those films are like oxygen to me and believe in them completely.


Unlike Sardar Khan from 'Gangs of Wasseypur', did you find it difficult to slip into your character of an overtly romantic guy in 'Tevar'?


He is actually a criminal but is not as cold blooded as Sardar Khan. He is somebody who is supporting his Home Minister brother. Putting some good things into this character was easy. He can fall in love. To put in humour into Sardar Khan was much more difficult than putting in romance into Gajendra Singh.


How romantic are you in personal life?


I am very romantic just that my face doesn't reflect that. I have seen 'Kareeb' only once but after that the girl came to me permanently. She came 'Kareeb' to me.


After 'Gangs of Wasseypur', do you think directors started noticing you again?


Actually, with '1971' not getting a good release and 'Dus Tola' and 'Swami' couldn't find the audience, my market went down. So I was again without work. But this is part and parcel of this game and I take it in my stride. That will not stop me from making those kinds of films. What changed after that was the commercial success of 'Raajneeti' because suddenly people thought I am a brilliant actor.


You are synonymous with socially relevant cinema. Do you believe that these kinds of films don't work at any given point?


It does. 'Gangs of Wasseypur 'and 'Special 26' did, but of course the latter had Akshay Kumar in it. 'Raajneeti' I will consider in that kind of league. But socially relevant films don't do well, don't find an audience and work only for 5 days, I don't care. I am here to do good films. I am not here to do films only for the sake of money. Money is important to me, but doing things my way is much more important to me.


Which are your forthcoming projects?


'Saato Uchhake', 'Traffic', my co-production with Tabu, Hansal Mehta's film, co-producing another film, 'Duronto'. These are the films you are going to see me in. But after these films, if a film like 'Tevar' comes up then, I will do it or else no.


manoj arjun

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