'Joram' focuses on the relationship between the man and the jungle: Actor Manoj Bajpayee

Manoj Bajpayee continues to push the envelope and add to his kitty of challenging roles, the latest one being his upcoming survival-thriller Joram

author_img Seema Sinha Published :  15th January 2023 07:30 PM   |   Published :   |  15th January 2023 07:30 PM
Manoj Bajpayee in 'Joram'.

Manoj Bajpayee in 'Joram'.

With a pathbreaking career spanning nearly 30 decades, one would think Manoj Bajpayee slips into the skin of a character with sheer nonchalance. The actor, however, reveals that he continues to be “nervous” when preparing for a new film. Known for internalising his roles, Bajpayee finds it difficult to relinquish a character once shooting is over.

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“I still get nervous, and if it is an intense part, I will refuse to let go of it,” he says, adding, “At a subconscious level, there might be bruises left.”

Despite the trepidation, Bajpayee has never been the one to shy away from taking chances. The three time-National Award winner has, over the years, managed to successfully tow the line between commercial and parallel cinema. For every Gangs of Wasseypur, he did an Aligarh, for every Rajneeti, there was a Sonchiriya.

Adding to his repertoire of intense films is his upcoming project Joram, a survival thriller that touches upon the ongoing climate crisis. “It focuses on the relationship between the man and the jungle,” he says.

The film Joram, which will have its world premiere at the 52nd edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam this month, is Bajpayee’s third collaboration with director Devashish Makhija after short film Taandav and National Award-winning dark drama Bhonsle. “Devashish is a remarkable writer and a social commentator. He is an angry man who takes out all his angst in the script,” the actor says. The high-on-action film was shot extensively in Jharkhand, particularly, for the mine sequences.

Bajpayee has perennially been a risk-taker. He did it with Road, Aks, Aarakshan and Satyagraha, where he played grey characters. His most iconic roles though continue to be from his early films, particularly Satya and Shool. “Satya becoming a household name and Bhiku Mhatre becoming an iconic figure made my career,” the Mumbai-based actor says.

His latest and immensely successful gamble was with the OTT series, The Family Man, which is expected to be renewed for a third season.

“Streamers provide great opportunities. I don’t think cinema would have been able to do justice to some of the great talent in our country. The challenge with OTT, however, is that you can’t relax on sets. You have to keep exploring nuances about your character,” he says, adding, “I love playing people we see in our day-to-day lives. I find their struggles and the way they overcome them quite heroic.”

Even though he has worked with stalwart directors such as Shyam Benegal, Shekhar Kapur and Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, the challenge of a new role makes the actor team up with young blood. “New directors have a very different kind of exposure. For them the world cinema is available at the click of a button. Their expectations from the actors are huge and I want to work with such directors who are not easy to appease,” says the Padma Shri-awardee, adding, “Even when off-camera, I constantly work on myself and make mental notes, so that I can be a better actor tomorrow.”

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What he doesn’t get bothered about are the box-office numbers though. For Bajpayee, they are not a measure of a film or an actor’s quality. “A poor performance cannot be celebrated just because of box-office numbers. Most of my films in the past have not done well because I have been part of independent cinema, but I never cared for it. What bothered me is that not enough people went to see the film,” he says.

Bajpayee’s other upcoming projects include Netflix series Soup, courtroom drama Bandaa, and investigative thriller Despatch.