'Anurag Kashyap is changing the grammar of filmmaking'
Manoj Bajpai chooses intense roles; but his performances have an easy air about them. This trait permeates his interviews too. Enjoying a career resurgence after Raajneeti and Gangs Of Wasseypur, he talks of his on-and-off-screen relationship with anger
You have been quoted saying that parents and youngsters should watch Gangs Of Wasseypur separately.
It was in response to an interviewer saying that a son can’t watch this film with his father. I said then they should see it separately. But I know of a father-son who saw the film together; and were comfortable. Finally, whether you can see a film with your parents or not boils down to the relationship you share with them.
You have done some explicit love scenes with Richa Chaddha and Reema Sen in the film. Would it have been easier to enact them if you were not married?
My bold scenes with Richa and Reema are fantastic. My wife (Shabana aka Neha) is an actor and she understands our job. In fact, Reema was telling me how to do the scenes (laughs).
This is your first film with Anurag Kashyap. What are your impressions of him as a director?
He is changing the grammar of filmmaking. Not just filmmakers, but even actors have to work hard to cope up with the challenges thrown by him; to match up to his knowledge and talent. It’s exciting to work in the time of directors like him, Dibakar Bannerjee and Vikramaditya Motwane — they are not letting us relax.
From Satya to Gangs of Wasseypur, you have done a number of violent roles. Does it affect you as a person?
No. Because once pack-up is announced, I go home and spend time with the family, or have a few drinks and chat with friends, and then go off to sleep. I live a very normal, boring life. Besides, I have also done films such as Aarakshan and Zubeida, which were not violent.
Sardar Khan, your character in Gangs Of Wasseypur, is full of lust and anger. Are you an angry person?
I am not violent at all; on the contrary, I am a quiet person. When I see violence in real life, I keep my distance from it.
How do you manage to express anger so well onscreen?
On screen, I like to explore characters in their totality. Nobody’s perfect; I am not perfect. To make a character look like a human being despite his failings is an actor’s job.
In your personal life, do you have a strong sense of right and wrong?
Yes, I do. Acting is something I am passionate about and it pays; however, I am no different from the person who goes to office every day.
But do you find the line between right and wrong getting blurred as you grow older?
Well, I am the same person but I have learnt to forgive and overlook other people’s wrongs with age and the maturity that accompanies it.
Forty is the age when many men reassess their careers and personal lives. You are 43. Are you doing the same?
I think my assessment process started a long time ago. I realised that no matter what plans I make for myself, life is going to take its own course. So now I make the best of the roles offered to me. I am more at ease and am calmer now. I am not so restless anymore and am working far better.
You are also enjoying a career resurgence. Now you have Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, Sanjay Gupta’s Shootout At Wadala, Neeraj Pandey’s Special Chabbis, Prakash Jha’s Chakrvyuh — is it the Raajneeti payoff?
Yes, Raajneeti has everything to do with it. For two years before that, I was not well and therefore sitting at home — my hand was not very mobile due to a shoulder problem. Raajneeti gave me direction after a two-year hiatus. It’s heartening to know that people have faith in me.
Are you keen to do lead roles now or are you open to any interesting roles?
I don’t want anything. Give me a role that you think suits me. If your idea of the right role for me matches with my idea of the right role, we are on.
What about a role in an escapist entertainer?
An actor should be open to all offers. If the role and script is interesting, why not take it?
Is it true that you will be shaking a leg with Bipasha Basu in Sanjay Gupta’s Shootout At Wadala?
Not that Sanjay Gupta has told me. But I have danced to songs in the past.
Is it something you relish?
Nahin, karna toh main kabhi bhi nahin chahta. I’ve always said that I enjoy acting but if the role demands a dance I will do it. I prefer story-driven films.
You are a new father in real life. How has the birth of your daughter changed your life?
I am so overwhelmed by the thought of leaving her that when I go for a shoot; it brings tears to my eyes. At times, it makes me wish I could work from home.