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Updated: September 8, 2010 20:56 IST

Life's about choice

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Actor Manoj Bajpai. Photo: R.V. Moorthy
The Hindu
Actor Manoj Bajpai. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Best known for his stellar performances and unconventional roles in mostly offbeat movies, Bollywood star Manoj Bajpai is known unanimously as a choosy actor who will settle for nothing but the best.

Still basking in the success of Prakash Jha's political drama “Rajneeti”, Manoj Bajpai has seen a new honour come his way. He has been selected as the celebrity of the month of September by UTV World Movies' “50 movies to watch before you die”.

“Making World Cinema accessible and free of cost to every movie buff who's missed out on watching such films is a superb endeavour,” Manoj says.

“The movies I've chosen to be telecast on the show include ‘Blessed by Fire', ‘Swindled', ‘Viva Cuba', ‘The Mission' and ‘The Longest Penalty Shot in the World'. The first is an Argentine film about The Falklands War. ‘Swindle' is a crime thriller while ‘Viva Cuba' explores the after-effects of emigration. The cinematography of the fourth film is brilliant and the last one is a Spanish comedy.”

The main reason behind this choice of movies is the fact that Manoj has heard and read up about these films but never really had an opportunity to watch them. “Although these are my personal picks, many others also get to watch these movies for the first time as well,” he says.

While he has won many an accolade for critically acclaimed movies, Manoj has also essayed his roles brilliantly in films that have been a commercial success. “I don't draw the line between the two. I do everything good and substantial that comes my way irrespective of whether it is going to bring home money or critical appreciation. An actor cannot afford to work on only certain types of movies simply because there is no scope for growth beyond that.”

To everyone who judges him as being too picky, Manoj says: “I choose to do films in which my character sounds real and believable. The script needs to be impressive in every sense of the word and money is the last thought when it comes to doing a film. Sometimes I've even acted for close to nothing, monetarily.”

Bollywood, he thinks, is slowly but surely changing for the better. “It's wonderful that small budget films are a huge phenomenon in the industry. Directors like Anurag Kashyap and Dibankar Bannerjee are real stalwarts and newer directors are being rather sensible today. The main problem is that anything that isn't particularly mainstream struggles to get support,” he thinks.

Would we ever get to see him do another Bhiku Mhatre (“Satya”)that propelled him to super stardom? “I never repeat anything. People have liked me as Veerendra Pratap in ‘Rajneeti' but that doesn't mean I would play a role similar to this again. I believe that with each passing film, an actor has to spruce up his versatility.”

Manoj's films on the anvil include “Dus Tola” directed by Ajay Verma, which is a humorous film on the lines of Malgudi Days and period film “Chitgong” directed by Baid. He has also signed an untitled project by Anurag Kashyap and Prakash Jha's “Arakshan”.

You can catch Manoj Bajpai's pick of the week, “Swindled” tonight at 8.30pm on UTV World Movies.

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