'This villain has a sense of humour'

Manoj Bajpai talks about playing the villain with a comic twist in Satyagraha and the art of reinventing

This is a busy year for Manoj Bajpai with 'Satyagraha' being his third film to release after 'Special 26' and 'Shootout At Wadala'. The actor has had his share of troubles when critics wrote him off after a couple of box-office duds like 'Fareb', 'Swami' and 'Acid Factory'. The turning point came with 'Raajneeti' where he bounced back with a stellar performance despite the ensemble cast. In 'Satyagraha', Manoj teams up yet again with Prakash Jha and dons the hats of a villain and a comic relief. As he sits for a quick chat, the actor talks about his challenging role and why he likes playing negative character.
 
Excerpts from the interview:

You play the villain yet again in Prakash
Jha’s film. How is it different from your earlier roles?
There is hardly any similarity with 'Raajneeti'. In the earlier film, it was a family feud and this is about politics and here, I also double up as a comic relief too. My character is an out and out villain but the way he behaves and responds is funny. Looking at the reaction on the sets for my character I think I was doing good.
Read: Ajay Devgn on Satyagraha
 
You play Amitabh Bachchan's nemesis yet again. Are you not worried of being overshadowed?
In all the films I have done with him so far, be it Aks, Aarakshan or Satyagraha, both of us had a clear and defined role and there was no question of worrying. Anyway, if Amitabh Bachchan is there in a film, no other role can be better than his so playing the negative role works for me. (laughs)
 
Do you think you have been typecast as a person who can only play negative roles? How challenging is it to play the role differently every time?
It was challenging to play a flamboyant person as it doesn't come naturally to me. It is opposite of what I am in real life so it was a task to get the tone right for the character. Once you get the hang of it, then it becomes fine. Once we shot continuously for nine hours at a stretch.
No 'Satyagraha' for Anna

Do actors have comfort roles that they can perform easily and excellently? What kind of roles do you enjoy doing the most?
From my career graph, it is evident that I have done diverse kind of roles. I have done ‘Bandit Queen’, ‘Daud’, and ‘Tamanna’, ‘Zubeida’ and ‘Satya’ which are like chalk and cheese from each other. I have never conformed to any category or bracket. For me, it is the role and the script is important.

Read: Ten socio-political films

Will you call Raajneeti as the turning point in your career?
Yes, 'Raajneeti' came at a difficult phase of my life.  I had to take a break because of a shoulder injury and as a result I lost out on certain projects. The film has given my career a boost and everything has been good after that.

After being in the industry for so long, what has been your learning curve?
I don’t think the film industry teaches you anything. You have to be a professional to survive in the industry. You just do your job, take the money and go home. I have never been too ambitious, so there wasn’t much to learn, though I feel success and failures don’t teach you much. I have learnt a lot from life and everyday is a new lesson. For example, when I got married, I learnt to adjust with my wife. When my daughter was born, I learnt to be a good father. These are the lessons which are worth learning.