Manoj Bajpayee Photograph:( Twitter )
Manoj Bajpayee interview - In an exclusive chat with WION, stellar actor Manoj Bajpayee who is gearing up for the release of his film 'Bhonsle' made some interesting points on the culture of nepotism in Bollywood and the lack of value system on which it thrives.
There are hardly a few actors who match up to the calibre and zest of Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee who has given us sheer gems over the course of his long career in the entertainment industry but it has not come without a fight admits the star himself. Speaking to WION, as he gears up for the release of his film ‘Bhonsle’, Manoj Bajpayee spoke of the reality of Bollywood industry and the very structure that promotes nepotism.
Looking forward to the release of ‘Bhonsle’ in which he plays a retired Mumbai cop, Manoj spoke of the realities of the world that we as participants and audience are privy to.
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“Let me start with this, the world is not fair. I have been saying this since 20 years that as an industry we celebrate mediocrity. Forget about industry, as a nation we celebrate mediocrity. Something is lacking somewhere -- in our thought process, our value system. When we see talent, we immediately want to ignore or push it away. This is the value system of ours which is so deplorable,” Manoj stated.
Explaining, he said, “I have said it before that this industry has wasted talent; so much that in any other country those talents who have not been given their due here, would have been known as the best actors of the world. But we don't care. Firstly, if you don't have talent then you have to be extremely lucky to get by. This is the system I am talking about. This is the cold value of this industry. I am not blaming anyone. I am a part of this industry. This is why I said in my past interviews that we have to look inward and rectify that. Rectify, or you will keep getting flak for it, cursed for it and will keep on losing respect of the common people.”
Not to sound very cynical on the state of affairs in Bollywood and offering a solution, Manoj said, “You can't do it. You cannot afford to ignore talent, crush talent, and must give a chance to someone, no matter if he/she is an outsider or insider. Give a chance to somebody who is less capable.”
Getting anecdotal, Manoj highlighted that “when you are appearing for engineering, you give a chance to someone who's scored the most, right? But in this industry if you are talented, first of all everybody will be jealous of your talent. So if they are jealous of your talent, they will try to push you away. They will try to ignore you. They will try to pull you back.”
“Not everybody is Manoj Bajpayee who is going to pick on you if you are going to pull him back. I am a thick-skinned person. The more you abuse me, the more powerful I become in my resolve. I come from a different place, I am the son of a different mother. When I think of how I survived, sometimes, I feel like it's a miracle,” said Manoj who got nostalgic reminiscing his journey that has been nothing short of a miracle for him and a blessing for his fans who hail him as one of the best actors that the industry has seen. From Sardar Khan’s ‘Keh Ke Lenge’ in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ that is considered a cult to a homosexual professor Dr Siras in ‘Aligarh’ or gangster Bhiku Mhatre of ‘Satya’, Manoj has not only stunned cinema lovers with his range but also proved that “content is king”.
Manoj reflected, “How come I survived in this industry, an industry that doesn't have respect for people from outside? So much so, if a good film is getting bad box office then forget about the industry as they will anyway criticise you whether you make a good film or a bad film, whether you give a good performance or a bad performance -- the mainstream critics and the trade analysts will jump on it and they will try to prove that it’s a bad film because the box office is not that great. So you can imagine as the state of affairs is evident. I don't have to say anything. You just look around and the evidence is there. I just voice it out and when I voice it out some people get offended and why they get offended is because they know this is the truth. You know what the truth is? It is what is visible from your eyes. That's the truth and the rest is all perception so when I say something loudly, I am only pointing out the things which are evident.”
Watch him speak here:
But Bollywood wasn’t programmed like this always. “I was asking somebody recently to tell me when these words started existing in our industry -- insider, outsider? Only 20 years back. The evidence is there, it's just that we ignore it. Now when people are getting angry, you are saying that their anger is unnecessary. You avoided it, you ignored it. Somewhere there anger means they are asking questions and we have to answer those questions as an industry. That system needs to be rectified. Who will rectify it? Me, as an established actor, as an experienced actor. Others who are well positioned. Others who are privileged. You can improve it by spotting talents, encouraging talent, by making their struggle shorter and admiring and respecting them. That's all it takes to make it a healthy and democratic industry. That's all it takes,” offering a solution that would help soothe the anger of an audience that is increasingly asking for younger talents to be appreciated and given a scope to perform.
When asked if the viewers are also to be blamed for patronising a certain section of actors following a line of nepotism. Manoj said, “We will come to that definitely when the time is right. At this time, the right questions are being asked. I agree there is a lot of chaos and filth but if you want to find the questions you want to find the answers for yourself, then you will realise that the solution lies in us. The audience does that but it’s not their fault. Look at the manner in which good films are exhibited and distributed. They don't get the right number of theatres, they don't get the right number of shows, right timing of shows. When a small film starts picking up, it's taken off. Are you giving that audience a chance to go ahead and mentor those films? But yes you are right, a little bit of a problem also lies on that side. We will come to it. First we will have to rectify ourselves, only then we can ask those questions to the viewers. Otherwise, it will sound whataboutery.”
Check out this space for the full interview.