The path less travelled is never an easy one, but has its own rewards. Manoj Bajpayee is one actor who has stood out for offbeat choices in a career which has brought him two National Film awards, much critical acclaim and commercial recognition. However, the actor says it was a difficult journey as questions were raised about his choices and he was labelled ‘arrogant’.
“It wasn’t easy for sure…You are called arrogant, bloated mind and all sorts of names for turning down the role and refusing to conform to the film industry’s norms. But I kept on ignoring it,” he says.
He doesn’t regret it one bit as he feels his stance on what he will do and what he won’t has benefitted him and others with the same approach. “It’s a great feeling. Some of us actors waited patiently and tried hard in our own small way to make things happen,” he says.
Bajpayee has two National Awards to his credit — Satya (1998) and Pinjar (2003). With a career spanning over two decades, the actor says, “I am only interested in improving my craft further. The process is on. I am still learning techniques to portray really difficult characters.”
Since 2012, he has multiple releases in a year and says actors like him are finally getting great roles. “After Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), all kinds of roles are offered. Who likes to sit at home anyway?” he quips.
Also, at this stage in his career, Bajpayee is all for experimenting and is only looking for directors who are going to push him hard into trying to do roles which he hasn’t done before. “I want to work with great directors with a great vision. I am looking for directors whose expectation from an actor like me is far bigger than me. They don’t want to compromise. They want me to be as good as any other actor,” Bajpayee concludes.