I am an out and out villain in Prakash Jha's film: Manoj Bajpai

CS speaks to Manoj Bajpai about his image, career and turning producer.

Grey is good
I am an out and out villain in Prakash Jha’s film. I don't like playing that because villains are completely black, I prefer some grey shades to a character. I like to choose roles which interest me. Having said that, it's hard to refuse the new-age directors as they have a great script-sense. It’s taken me 20 years to get the kind of roles I am looking for. It’s a good time for cinema and I can proudly say that I have made my contribution to bringing it to this stage. 

Image conscious
Nobody asks Al Pacino or Robert De Niro as to why they aren’t doing diverse roles. I don’t understand the notion of diversity being a benchmark of excellence in acting in Bollywood. I don’t feel the need to do a romantic or a comedy just to prove that I am a fine actor. I am a serious actor because I take my job seriously and deliver the goods.

Donning the producer’s hat
I want to produce films but my over-commitment to acting is what’s stopping me from going ahead. I can’t take up a task for a lark. Even if I get a two months break from acting, I will produce a film. As for the kind of films I will produce, I am not one to bank scripts but am keen on seeing what these new directors have on mind.

Building bonds
Prakash (Jha) and I are not of the same age to be friends but do we share a comfort level. We have high expectations from each other. I can’t take our rapport for granted. I don’t know whether I will work with him again because I live for today and it goes against my personality to think whether we will work in the future. I was humbled when Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) called me ‘the best actor in the country’. I took it as a compliment because it came from someone like him.

Biwi Ho Toh Aisi
Shabana (Neha) is a hands-on mother and she’s doing a great job of bringing up our three-year-old daughter Ava Nayla single-handedly. I don’t get much time to devote to Ava. She’s one of the best-looking women around, and is intelligent as well. I am really trying to get her to take a break from her routine and do an acting assignment. I am dying to act with her too, it will be fun bringing home to the sets. Yes, I do miss Shabana as she cannot accompany me on my shoots because of the baby. 

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