Exclusive! Manoj Bajpayee on 'Bhonsle'

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After receiving appreciation from all quarters for his splendid performance in ‘Bhonsle’, Manoj Bajpayee bagged the Best Actor award for the same at the 67th National Film Awards. He shared the award with Dhanush, who bagged it for his Tamil film ‘Asuran’. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, Manoj spilled the beans on what these recognitions mean to him, his fondest memories of shooting for ‘Bhonsle’ and the best compliment he received for his performance. Excerpts…

You have bagged your third National Award this year. How much do these recognitions mean to you?
No matter how much you believe in the award system, the basic courtesy is that when you get recognised for something, you just bow down, and be thankful for it. That is what I do. I know that next day will be challenging in a different way, there will be a new character to do justice to, I will be following a different director’s vision and trying to give my 200 per cent to it.

I believe acting is one of the trickiest jobs and the craft is unending. Despite learning all your life, you will still feel like a newcomer. Awards are a good occasion to just say thank you to everyone who has supported you in whatever way possible. That is how I take it.

What is the fondest memory you have of the film shoot?
It was a very difficult shoot. We only had ten days of shoot money. We decided to just go ahead with it and then figure out how we would arrange for more money while we were shooting it. I remember shooting the Ganpati sequence during the procession of Lalbaugcha Raja and nobody recognised me. Director Devashish Makhija planned the whole shoot. It was very impeccable and mesmerising. One should watch the film so as to see how such sequences can be pulled off.

All the chawl sequences are so authentic and believable. Every day used to be difficult in terms of performance because it was a difficult performance to pull off. After every shot, I went into my van and called possible investors. I was trying to put in some money into the film. We did not have money to complete the shoot, we had enough only for ten days. This is one of the reasons why I am so proud of it. On the set I was dealing with one of the most difficult characters of my life and off the set I was arranging money for the film. The journey of ‘Bhonsle’ has been so amazing. All these memories will not fade away soon.

What is the best compliment you received for your performance in ‘Bhonsle’?
The best moment was when I bagged the Best Actor award for ‘Bhonsle’ at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Australia. That is the biggest and the most difficult award to win. I got the award for the second time after ‘Aligarh’. It was the most memorable time for me.

One of the jury members met me after the award and said that it is difficult to recognise the actor who was taking the award for the performance that he has given. He told me that when he saw me taking the award on the stage, he didn’t believe I was the same actor they saw in the film. He said he was amused by the fact that my gestures, postures and expressions in the film were nothing like my real self. This was coming from one of the jury members there. When you hear these comments coming from veterans, from the best in the business, you really feel that you are doing something right with your craft and justice with your journey.

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