Exclusive: Manoj Bajpayee on Gali Guleiyan: Toughest role I've ever played
With Manoj Bajpayee's psychological thriller, Gali Guleiyan up for its release in India, the actor gets candid about the film with mid-day online in an exclusive interaction
After Baaghi 2 and his sleeper hit Satyameva Jayate, 2018 has definitely been a fruitful one for Manoj Bajpayee on the professional front. One of the most talented actors in the Hindi film industry, Bajpayee leaves no stone unturned to get into the skin and the gravity of his character. Talking about his upcoming film, 'Gali Guleiyan (In The Shadows)' the 49-year-old actor, in an exclusive interaction with mid-day online speaks about the challenges and how he reached the saturity point while portraying the character of Khuddoos.
The trailer of Gali Gulieyan garnered more than 2 million views in mere 2 days. How does it feel because psychological thriller has a selective audience and doesn't really caters to the masses?
I don't agree that masses don't like psychological thrillers. We don't give them enough opportunity. We don't have spread out releases for these kinds of films because the distributors and exhibitors' network.. they are still trying to figure out how to go about releasing such films. They are still not out of the films distance or the distribution that they know very well. People or the masses don't get to see these films in the right shows in the theatres.
Was the film always slated for a September 7 release or it was a strategised plan to bring it to India after showcasing it in international film festivals?
We were planning to release it only after achieving accolades in the international film festivals because this film deserves all of that. This film has all the elements to be appreciated and to be judged well by the international jury and the audience there. They showered a lot of love and admiration for this film. After nine months of continuous film festival journey and travel, we decided that it's now time for at least to release the film in India. The story is set in Old Delhi. It is about an Indian place and Indian person or any common man. And, definitely it will be understood by the population here of cinema-goers, and cinema is the biggest cultural thing here (India).
Tell us about your character, Khuddoos in this film.
Khuddoos is a person who is reserved and quiet. All the activities that are happening and not happening externally, they are happening internally. So, that is why it makes it all the more difficult for an actor to play that role because most of the times you are trying to create situations in your mind, which is sometimes not even written in the script. It is the most complicated and toughest role I have ever played because he does not have the support in the dialogues. The dialogues are none. So, all the turmoil he is going through, all the conflicts and the criss-crossing of the thoughts that are happening in his mind had to be projected through my eyes or through a twitch of my cheek or any muscle at times, but mostly through silences. It's a really difficult task; it took a toll on me. At times, I felt that I may break down and this is it, this is all that I know of acting. It kept on testing my skill and craft, and I came out as an improved actor.
Aren't such roles exhaustive?
Completely. They exhaust you and they take you on the brink of a meltdown. These are the risqué roles and performances. Most of the actors don't choose risqué roles because they know what kind of an effort is required. Some of them are not that much equipped, some of them who are equipped they always shy away. It's like travelling in a dark tunnel and they don't know how to come out.
How do you unwind yourself from such characters?
I unwind very well. I unwind mostly with my friends and taking out my family or I take on something, and I immediately start working on it. So, you start forgetting whatever you have done. Having said all of that the bruises are so heavy, it's very hard to eliminate them, wipe them out…they always stay with you. That is why the actors are moody, whimsical and most of them are reserved, quiet because that's how they are. That's how they become by really taking on somebody else's character, misery and the conflict and the mental trauma, it's not easy. It's the hardest job.
What is the takeaway from this film to the audience?
It's the most unique film ever happened in the Indian history. You've never seen a protagonist so silent. I've never seen this kind of a mental journey in the history. The performances of Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami, Ranveer Shorey and the little child, Idris – he's world class. If you complain that we hardly make films which are at par with world cinema – this is that film. Just go and watch it and support it.
The film's name is very unique, Gali Guleiyan - In the Shadows.
In the foreign land, the film is known with that (In the shadows) name. We kept Gali Guleiyan for the Indian audience. Gali Guleiyan is a lane, which is very famous in Old Delhi's Chandni Chowk area. This is the lane where our protagonist lives in and whenever he's lost, he wants to reach there, and he can't find the way there.
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