Manoj Bajpayee

Versatile actor Manoj Bajpayee has carved a niche for himself in Bollywood for more than a decade. He is best known for films such as Shool, Pinjar, Aks, RoadRajneeti, Aarakshan, Gangs Of Wasseypur - Part 1, Special 26, Satyagraha and Aligarh to name a few. Not only has he wowed us with his stellar performance in close to 67 films, but he was also been honored with the Padma Shri award for his contribution to art and cinema. Manoj Bajpayee's list of awards includes a Special Jury National Award for his role in the film Pinjar.

Manoj is a prominent Bollywood actor who has paved his way to success through sheer hard work and perseverance. Currently, the actor is basking in the glory of his recently released film Bhonsle, which is streaming on Sony LIV.


Fans and critics are lauding Manoj Bajpayee's yet another powerful performance in the film. This gem of a film premiered at Toronto's International Film Festival of South Asia. Bajpayee received a standing ovation for his performance as the retired cop, Ganpath. 

Manoj Bajpayee

In an exclusive conversation with International Business Times India, Manoj Bajpyee poured his heart out as he spoke about the challenges he faced while filming 'Bhonsle', how he finally managed to get a producer to back up this project, his upcoming releases on the web and more.

Manoj at his candid best

Read on:

What is 'Bhonsle' film all about?

'Bhonsle' is about an old man named Ganpath Bhosle, who has just retired from the police force. It talks about his post-retirement life within four walls. I speak through my silence; my theatre experience helped me prepare for the role. The film was shot in a tight space and we used to shoot 17-18 hours a day. As it is a quiet film about the burning topic of migration, what makes the script different is that it is a story about people becoming immigrants in their own country. The film is personal to me for various reasons.

On the struggles that he faced while filming 'Bhonsle'


'Bhonsle' took several years in the making due to financial issues. Six producers were lined up for the film but, after the first narration, all of them ran away so the project was shelved for four years. I was frustrated with the wait and decided to put my money on the film as I believed in the story and the message that it was sending audiences. But the journey didn't simplify either, after 10 days of shooting, the funds ran out and I used to call up people and fix meetings so that the funds could be arranged.

On not getting producer for the film


The film was supposed to get a theatrical release but as there was no producer to back up, there were a lot of challenges that we faced apart from just acting. Even though I was busy with the shoot and other things with respect to 'Bhonsle', I was looking out for funds and a platform to release the film. And I am so grateful to Sony Liv for pitching in and now when it has released during the lockdown time, I feel this film is so apt and got attention.

On keeping his cool and working on other projects despite being worried for 'Bhonsle'

I am basically a cool and a composed person but when I lose my cool I losse it really bad. Yes, while I was shooting for Aiyaari and Satyamev Jayate at the back of my mind I knew I need a producer for 'Bhosle', however that didn't deter me from giving my best to the film I was working on. After pack up, I would set up a meeting, or make calls and work on other aspects of Bhosale. The whole journey from acting, shooting, till now has been very emotional and personal for me. The biggest and the most priceless moment was when Bhosale was premiered at Toronto's International Film Festival of South Asia and the film got a standing ovation. I was beaming with pride, I can't express in words, all the efforts and hard work and everything that we did for over the years was appreciated. And now people are watching the film on Sony Liv and appreciating it. 

Winning an award for Bhonsale

On how does he manage family time

Manoj Bajpayee, Neha
Manoj Bajpayee, Neha

Summer vacations for me are for my family and my daughter and that's how I have been balancing it throughout. Whever I have been occupied with work, my wife has stood by me and understood. The industry people also understand that I need this time with my family.

On his upcoming projects

Manoj Bajpayee

It's been a long time since I have done comedy, and I am really excited about my next film 'Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari' looking forward to this one. Then I have 'Family Man 2' that will hopefully be coming out this year-end, and this time the season is much more intriguing and riveting. Rest I don't know looking at the pandemic when will we start shooting for the next.

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“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 & continued my studies. 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 & even sent me Rs.200 to cover my fees! People back home called me ‘good for nothing’ but I turned a blind eye. I was an outsider, trying to fit in. So, I taught myself English & Hindi–Bhojpuri was a big part of how I spoke. I then applied to NSD, but was rejected thrice. I was close to committing suicide, so my friends would sleep next to me & not leave me alone. They kept me going until I was accepted. That year, I was at a chai shop when Tigmanshu came looking for me on his khatara scooter–Shekhar Kapur wanted to cast me in Bandit Queen! So I felt I was ready & moved to Mumbai. 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. 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’. 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.” -- HOB with @sonylivindia brings to you the story of Manoj Bajpayee, whose life has come full circle. To watch his award winning performance in Bhonsle, click on the link in bio!

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