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‘Kids are the real stars’

With his Independence Day release Satyamev Jayate in cinema halls now, Manoj Bajpayee has much to smile about

Born in a farmer’s family in Belwa, a small village in Bihar, Manoj Bajpayee is a well-known actor today, with two National Awards and four Filmfare Awards in his kitty. Aspiring to be an actor since childhood, Manoj feels that children are the best actors who could be developed into very fine artists with the right kind of motivation and training.

He and his five siblings studied in a village school running from a hut till the fourth standard. He relocated to Delhi at the age of 17 and applied for the National School of Drama but got rejected four times. He studied in Ramjas College, Delhi University and attended a workshop by late thespian Barry John before getting into films.

He began his career with Drohkaal and did a minor role in Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen, then acted in Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya, which got him a National Award for best-supporting actor. Pinjar won him the special jury award. Then he acted in Raajneeti, made by Prakash Jha, which was well received. His performance in the film Aligarh has been praised by many, including critics.


For Gangs of Wasseypur , made by noted film-maker Anurag Kashyup, Bajpayee had to shave his head and lose 4 kg. The film was shown at the Cannes film festival and was a hit at the box-office.

His subsequent release of the year was the biographical sports film Budhia Singh –Born to Run where he played the coach of the world’s youngest marathon runner.

His latest inspiring film Satyameva Jayate starring John Abraham and debutante actress Aisha Sharma is an action thriller film written and directed by Milap Milan Zaveri. Its release was timed to coincide with Independence Day. The team was recently in Delhi to promote the film in collaboration with Smile Foundation, which works for children’s education. Bajpayee has been connected with Smile Foundation for many years. Its children took part in a drawing competition and asked him many interesting questions.

Later, there was media interaction. Patriot talked to the talented actor about his latest film:

Please tell us about Satyamev Jayate.
Its meaning is Truth Always Wins. One should always speak the truth and follow this path. Initially, there will be difficulties. But in the long run, you will succeed.
This film is an attempt to understand and directly connect with the children of underprivileged sections of society and to raise awareness on a subject of importance. Budhia was also a child’s story — a little athlete doing a great job. I showed this film to my daughter also, and she loved it. Now she wants me to get her a football.

Share some of your childhood memories with our readers!
I still remember when I used to attend school in my village, our teachers celebrated Independence Day and distributed toffees, sweets, and laddoos! But, sadly, this spirit is gone now. People celebrate it just like any holiday, but not as a special day.

Was there any risk while shooting?
While shooting for Satyamev Jayate, John Abraham got injured, but he did not stop the shooting. As an actor, one has to take risks. In one of my earlier films, I got injured in the shoulder.

What kind of preparations did you make to work in this film?
Director and writer Milap Milan Zaveri said, “It’s not Aligarh, just speak your dialogue and relax! I enjoyed a lot, there was no tension whatsoever. I felt calm and relaxed.

Tell us about your role in this film.
I am playing DCP Vinayak, and I have acted and performed such roles earlier. But the only problem here was climbing a steep staircase which was tiring.

Are you satisfied with your performance?
I felt fortunate that Zaveri offered me this role and am feeling great after working
with him.

What was it like meeting these children?
These children are fantastic stars! They have no boundaries. They are free. You have to give them only an idea and they can do it well. They are the best actors. Hence, they are talented as well. Meeting them has been a memorable experience. In this film, there is one scene involving these children. There is also one song, and it’s my favourite.

Would you like to tell something about the child actress?
Jaya Chourasiya has been featured in the song and she felt fortunate to be part of this film. She told me the movie brought a smile to her parents’ face. It was her first experience in a film and experience of getting clicked with actors on big
cameras.

The music is impressive. Who has sung the songs in Satyameva Jayate?
The music is composed by Sajid-Wajid and lyrics are penned by Shabbir Ahmed Kumar; the background score is composed by Sanjay Choudhary. Sirf Tum is sung by famous singer Alka Yagnik, composed by Nadeem Shravan. There are three songs sung by different singers and upcoming young singer Neha Kakkar. Film is produced by T-series and Tulsi Kumar has also sung in this film.

Who all played a cameo in this film?
The famous song Paniyo Sa feature children of the Smile Foundation, Mumbai: Jaya Chourasiya, Bharat Karki, Sania Jaiswar, Aman Saini, Anita Gupta and others. That song has generated a wide viewership on social media platforms and has crossed 48 million views.

Was becoming an actor a conscious decision?
Yes! I love cinema and have a passion for films. I always believe that one should not do anything against his wishes. If anyone has a dream one can follow it.

What kind of challenges and hardships does one face while acting?
Being an actor is not as easy as people generally think! People think being an actor is glamorous. But the reality is something different. During the shoot, you have to run, you have to jump over fire, and so on. It is especially difficult for women. They have to wear a sari in winter, work in hot weather where the temperature may be 45 degrees Celsius. You have to work close to the sea, where there is humidity and your hair gets messy, and so on!

Isn’t there a clash between Gold and Satyameva Jayate?
I think the audience can see both films. They have different themes.

Whom do you admire in films?
I have been a great admirer of Ram Gopal Verma, he is one film-maker who has made the maximum impact on Indian cinema in the past 20 years.

Tell us something about the promotion of this film.
Film promotion always takes a lot of time. We have to dress up nicely, smile at everybody, go to meet our fans and visit colleges and universities. It’s a bit tiring, but it’s fun. An actor has to make a huge effort just to look smart to attract the audience!

Besides films, what do you enjoy?
I love my little daughter and always try to spend time with her and wife Neha.