Manoj Bajpayee: I was close to committing suicide after being rejected thrice; my friends kept me going

Updated: Jul 02, 2020, 11:59 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Manoj Bajpayee opened up on how he was depressed and was close to committing suicide due to frequent rejections.

Manoj Bajpayee. Image sourced from mid-day archives
Manoj Bajpayee. Image sourced from mid-day archives

Manoj Bajpayee is one of the most successful and versatile actors we have in the industry today. The actor, who made his Bollywood debut in 1994 with Shekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen, has been successful in making his mark in the entertainment industry.

But little did anyone know that he would also share his tough and troubled times as an actor and how he was depressed and was close to committing suicide due to frequent rejections. In an interaction with Humans of Bombay, Manoj said that he aspired to become an actor since the age of nine. He said, "I'm a farmer's son; I grew up in a village in Bihar with 5 siblings–we went to a hut school. We led a simple life, but whenever we went to the city, we'd go to the theatre. I was a Bachchan fan & wanted to be like him. At 9, I knew acting was my destiny. But I couldn't afford to dream and continued my studies."

He added, "Still, my mind refused to focus on anything else, so at 17, I left for DU. There, I did theatre but my family had no idea. Finally, I wrote a letter to dad - he wasn't angry and even sent me Rs 200 to cover my fees! People back home called me 'good for nothing' but I turned a blind eye."

Bajpayee revealed after repeatedly being rejected admission at the National School Of Drama, he experienced suicidal thoughts but had his friends as strong pillars of support till he got in. "I was an outsider, trying to fit in. So, I taught myself English and Hindi - Bhojpuri was a big part of how I spoke. I then applied to NSD but was rejected thrice. I was close to commit suicide, so my friends would sleep next to me and not leave me alone. They kept me going until I was accepted," the actor stated.

After moving to Mumbai, Manoj was faced with rejections and struggles. "Initially, it was tough–I rented a chawl with 5 friends & looked for work, but got no roles. Once, an AD tore my photo & I've lost 3 projects in a day. I was even told to 'get out' after my 1st shot. I didn't fit the ideal 'hero' face–so they thought I'd never make it to the big screen. All the while, I struggled to make rent & at times even a vada pav was costly," he said.

"But the hunger in my stomach couldn't dissuade my hunger to succeed. After 4 years of struggle, I got a role in Mahesh Bhatt's TV series. I got Rs 1500 per episode–my first steady income. My work was noticed & I was offered my first Bollywood film & soon, I got my big break with 'Satya'," he added.

For Bajpayee, Satya proved to be a game-changer. His role of a gangster named Bhiku Mhatre won him a National Award for his performance. The film's success came as a validation of his dreams. "That's when the awards rolled in. I bought my first house & knew…I was here to stay. 67 films later, here I am. That's the thing about dreams–when it comes to turning them into reality, the hardships don't matter. What matters is the belief of that 9-year-old Bihari boy & nothing else (sic)", he concluded.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Humans of Bombay (@officialhumansofbombay) onJul 1, 2020 at 5:25am PDT

Earlier, the actor had opened up on the insider-outsider debate and how the industry needs to push, encourage and support true talent. The nepotism debate had gathered strength after the untimely demise of Kai Po Che actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

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