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Updated: January 18, 2011 20:01 IST

Part and parcel

Faisal M. Naim
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Manoj Tiwari. Photo: R. V. Moorthy
The Hindu Manoj Tiwari. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Popular actor Manoj Tiwari in a frank conversation about “Bigg Boss”, Bhojpuri cinema and more

Manoj Tiwari is a man of simple words. Having tasted the sweet taste of success, the popular Bhojpuri actor still has his feet firmly on the ground. We caught up with him at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi recently, where he was present to promote a new product range by Ayur Herbals. Says Tiwari, “Success is like wine. It is good to enjoy it, but too much of it can intoxicate you. Success should never get into your nerves, else it could be hazardous.”

Hailing from Bihar, Tiwari got his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Physical Health Education from Banaras Hindu University in the late '80s. Later he decided to pursue a career in music and started privately producing Bhojpuri music albums in 1992. The initial period of his career was hard, says Tiwari, and he had to face many difficulties, like the lack of funds and sponsors.

“One should not forget one's past. I come from a very humble background. I never forget how I got here. Initially, I had to struggle a lot. It was only after four years that my work started to get recognised,” says Tiwari. Soon, his songs like “Ankhiyan bhaili lal”, “Bagal waali jaan maarlu” and “Baajat aave paijaniya” became very popular.

After 10 years in singing, with a discography of more than 4,000 songs, Tiwari entered Bhojpuri cinema in 2003 with a lead role in the film Sasura Bada Paise Wala. The film, based on the issue of corrupt morality among the wealthy, went on to gross over two million rupees and established Tiwari as one of Bhojpuri cinema's most successful actors. Tiwari followed it up with more successful films like Daroga Babu, I Love You and Bandhan Toote Na, and has acted in more than 30 films since then. Tiwari also acted in a Bollywood film, Deshdrohi, in 2008.

Tiwari says Bhojpuri films, with a significant section of their audience located in villages and small towns, also intend to educate the masses along with providing entertainment, and carry important social messages. Credited with reviving the Bhojpuri film industry, Tiwari says he has been promoting Bhojpuri cinema all over the world wherever there is a sizeable Bhojpuri population, like Mauritius and Surinam. He also claims to have opened Bhojpuri academies in various cities across the world.

Extremely positive about the future of Bhojpuri cinema, Tiwari says, “Bhojpuri cinema hasn't yet been exploited in the optimal manner. But now efforts are being made in this direction. And everyone will witness the fabulous outcome within the next three years.”

The actor laughs off the Big Boss controversy, saying both he and Salman Khan have put the issue behind them. “We have sorted out our differences. I told Salman bhai that what I say behind someone's back, I have the guts to say to one's face as well. And Salman smilingly accepted it,” Tiwari explains. Having appeared in the fourth season of the show, the actor was ousted in favour of Ashmit Patel.

Tiwari says it was wrong on Arbaaz Khan's part to lobby for Patel. “When Salman was the judge on the show then, being his brother, Arbaaz shouldn't have taken sides. I mean, why Ashmit, why not Tiwari?”

The actor also brushes aside his tiff with Shweta Tiwari, another participant on the show, saying they are good friends. “There was some misunderstanding between us. But now, it's over. Ups and downs are a part of life. One should not take things for granted. I hope things get better with time.”

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