Manoj Bajpayee on his role in Gali Guleiyan: Perhaps the most difficult character of my career
Manoj Bajpayee won the Best Actor award for his film Gali Guleiyan at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.
Manoj Bajpayee, who bagged the Best Actor award for his film Gali Guleiyan, or In the Shadows at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, believes that the particular role has been the hardest for the actor who has previously delivered critically acclaimed performances in such films as Aligarh, Rajneeti and Satya.
In an exclusive chat with Firstpost, the actor spoke about how awards are a celebration of excellence, his methods behind preparing a dark character and the perks of the digital media as opposed to the big screen.
What significance do you feel have awards had in your career? What holds more importance for you, critical or commercial success?
For me, awards are a celebration of the hard work and the process adopted for the film. All the independent films that I have been a part of have required an immense amount of zeal, energy and perseverance. To make Gali Guleiyan and push it in the international film festivals, and to be nominated in such awards, it is sufficient enough a reason to celebrate your own achievement. In the world of commercialism, there are no takers of excellence since the sought after aspect becomes the money that one has been able to make. In these kinds of awards, films like Gali Guleiyan and Aligarh making a mark is an achievement in itself.
You have been a part of more than one psychological thrillers. In a film like Gali Guleiyan, where do you find your inspiration from and how do you prepare for such a role?
When you approach a film like Gali Guleiyan, you attempt to explore your own darkness. This is why I believe that actors are creatures who need to be pampered and coaxed at all times. To get into the darkest corner of your own self is the most difficult job. This is perhaps the most difficult role that I have done. On the 28th day of shoot, I asked my director to wrap up the shooting since I felt that I would have a mental breakdown any time.
In Gali Guleiyan, you play an isolated paranoid man, who is slowly losing his grip on reality. As an actor, how important is it to exercise a grip on ground reality in an otherwise make-believe world?
When you are dealing with a character like the one I essayed in Gali Guleiyan, you know that it is going to put your experience on trial. After the commencement of the film, I wanted to celebrate since I that I was able to achieve the impossible in terms of the craft. I am completely aware how much I have been tested by this character. Moreover, there is an alternate Manoj Bajpayee who is always at work who fails to understand the emotion of giving up. However, I am also aware that the market forces are very strong and one needs to manipulate and manoeuvre the market tide to push these films. This is why I take up the middle-of-the road films, which helps me stay sane and not carried away by the successes and failures.
What have you learnt from Gali Guleiyan?
Gali Guleiyan has provided me with a perspective that I never possessed. Whatever skill I bore as an actor fell short while delivering for the role. I wanted to play him, delve into his mind without any judgment or making him look like a sick man. In the process of understanding the character, you also start discovering your own self.
Which performance of yours is your most favourite and why?
Mr Raj Kapoor was once asked which one film was closest to him, he said that all his films were his children. To say one film is better than the other would be doing complete injustice to the all other films and roles where I have given my blood, sweat and tears. However, I iterate that this is the most complex character that I have done.
You are one of the first actors to have ventured into the web territory, with films such as Kriti and Ouch. Do you think the platform of cinema-watching affects the content of a film ?
Cinema-watching is increasingly becoming more expensive, which is why people prefer to watch the large-scale magnum opus films on the big screen. The content-driven small films are not always entertained by theatre owners, and the little gaps that were provided for the release of small films are also getting closed. In such a scenario, the web gives us a boost of confidence since it is another avenue over and above selling it to satellites.
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