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“Not Much apart from you performance is under your control in a film” – Actor Manoj Bakshi

Actor Manoj Bakshi, who is slowly learning the  tricks of the trade in Bollywood after a stupendous stint on the stage and in TV. Read on.

One thing that springs immediately into the mind when we think of the roles you have done till date is that in none of them can we see the real Manoj, how do you manage to do that?

Manoj Bakshi: Theatre. I have been a stage actor for three decades and getting into the skin of my character, right from the body language to the speech and mannerisms is part of my job there. I bring the same ethos to my work in cinema. There is no acting unless you become the character in totality. It is a huge compliment to me when people go “you were that guy who played that role?” in that they remember the character I played long after the film got over.

For a film actor, in the industry today, is that not kind of working against you? When viewers and I am assuming by extension even film makers do not recognise your face?

Manoj Bakshi: It is, definitely. Today’s industry is all about image, about being visible. I am just starting out in the industry, and from the little work that I have done, I have achieved a state where the makers are slowly realising I can slip into any and every character given to me, irrespective of the type of role or its length. Small baby steps at a time, and eventually they would recognize this face as well.

So you do not feel the need for the mandatory PR machinery that runs the industry?

Manoj Bakshi: Of late, I do. And hence slowly I am going that way. The industry runs on image, on PR. It is very important to be in the know. Especially when you are sitting here in Delhi while the industry is there in Mumbai.

So how does that work for you? Delhi is not exactly the hub of cinema is it?

Manoj Bakshi: It slowly is becoming. Last few years, from Oye Lucky Lucky Oye to Do Dooni Chaar, Delhi is the flavour in Bollywood. Scripts are being written set in Delhi and by extension that would mean they would need actors who can bring alive that Delhi flavour. It is like, films are being made in Mumbai, but they scout for actors in Delhi. That way I am good.

download Shifting to Mumbai where all the action is, would that not give you a better opportunity set?

Manoj Bakshi: Could be, a lot of my friends do tell me to shift. I cant though, have not been able to till now. I have a family, my son has just started college, by daughters still in school, I need to be there for them. Hence the shuttling. May be once the kids are old enough to take care of themselves, I would have the luxury to shift to Mumbai and concentrate on my film career totally



You started your film journey quite late in life. Does that irk you anywhere when you are now looking for work?

Manoj Bakshi: It remains on the back of my mind, I wouldn’t deny it. I cant as well, it is a fact that I started out late. Yet, it is also a fact that despite that I am getting good work that I enjoy doing. So far so good that ways. I personally would not dwell on what could have been. I have had a fruitful career on stage and on TV, this is the next phase and I am looking forward to it.

You are a stage veteran, and a known face on DD. How is it different working in Films today?

Manoj Bakshi: The acting is easy. Very easy in fact for me to slip in and out of roles. Theatre has given me a solid footing in the acting department and I relish tearing into the part.

What about the work culture? Theatre is a team effort always after all…

Manoj Bakshi: Yes, theatre is always about the team. Cinema is mostly about the stars. The actors,  hero heroine is all the fuss is always about.Character actors, smaller roles, are incidental. Sometimes they never end up in the film either. So yes, that is different…

Has that happened with you ever?

Manoj Bakshi: Roles vanishing? Definitely yes… Jab Tak Hai Jaan , I had a small part, I did the scene in London, was appreciated by SRK and Yash ji as well. All was hunky dory until I saw the film and I was not there in it. I was later informed the length was too long and hence the scene had to be chopped.

Did you feel bad?

Manoj Bakshi: I did, it was a scene with SRK, and for new starters like me, one such scene with a superstar is a nice way to remain in the public eye longer. And I lost that opportunity, had that happened, I would have had some more ground covered in terms of visibility in the industry. But then that is the past now. I moved on. I cannot expect to have control on the end product…

Something you do have when in theatre isn’t it?

bakshi-besharam (1)Manoj Bakshi: Yes, on stage, there is a lot of control, in terms of your performance, your acting, your stage time, you get to know the reactions of the audiences immediately, they will clap or hoot immediately, a lot of control and feedback happens in real time in theatre. In films however, that is not possible, I do my part and get out of the sets, the film releases a few months later and my part may or may not be in the final cut, I could’ve done ten scene and only half of it might end up in the film. And then the audience reactions are not at all known, till the film releases. A lot is left to chance.

You mention the fuss is always about the Hero and the heroine… is the case with all films you have worked on?

Manoj Bakshi: No, not all, Do Dooni Chaar was a dream to work in. Rishiji, with whom I have my scenes in the end of the film, was so cooperative, so non fussy. The role I had, sort of sends out a message to the audiences in the end, Rishiji got that, and wanted more of that stuff in the film, and not just him hogging all the scenes. That is something that comes with security of an actor. An actors security is what it all boils down to. Rishiji is secure about his talent, and does not worry about co actors in a scene taking over and he paling out. A good actor lets others act as well. That does not happen with the newer lot, where the actors are constantly worried about whether the whole scene and the entire film revolve around them or not.

Big budget, small budgets, what works better for you as an actor?

Manoj Bakshi: Both have their own charms. A film like Do Dooni Chaar was a small film, not much publicity done as well, in fact they had stopped pushing the film in the second week, and the film actually went ahead on word of mouth- these are fun to work in as it is a team effort, everyone is passionate, the script is always really good. A big budget film, like my next Gori Tere Pyaar mein where I play Kareenas father, there is a lot of comfort, a lot of pampering to the actors, but then there is the insecurity factor, the idea of what you do will end up on screen being unknown…

And yet you enjoy both equally

Manoj Bakshi: I am an actor, I have done various mediums, this as well I will enjoy and give my best. Rest is on gods will.

Television your other love, too has changed, would you go back to it again?

Manoj Bakshi: If I have the time for it, why not. Right now, films take up most of my time. I have stopped theatre a lot as well. If I get a good offer in TV, why not.

Do you think TV has anything good to offer anymore? You were part of the  rare time when TV was intelligent and churned out classics. That time is history now.

Manoj Bakshi: It is a matter of demand and supply. Both run hand in hand. And trends change. Today what is on TV is what people want to see. That would change as well. AS far as the role is good, and I would enjoy doing it, I am game for anything. Also, I should have the time for it.

Do you miss the stage?

Manoj Bakshi: I do not miss the stage since I never really have left it. Once a theatre actor, always a theatre actor. These days though, I do a lot more improve work,  I go to watch a play, and one of the actors doesn’t turn up due to whatsoever reasons, and I am pulled in to play the part, the director is always very sure that I can deliver in that short period of time. And more often than not, I do. Once the play gets over, and the audience gets to know that I filled in for another actor at the last minute without any rehearsals, they are awed. I am like this instant fix guy for my theatre friends these days

And you seem to enjoy that don’t you? That is your strength in many ways…

Manoj Bakshi: Yes I do. And that is my USP so to say, give me any role and any character and I will slip into it. I am game for a variety of roles.

What do we see you next in?

Manoj Bakshi: well there is Gori Tere Pyaar mein, then I am playing a Bengali character in another film, there is this serious comedy that is up for release, where I play a Don sort of a character. There are a few others in talks as well. I am hoping to play a hard core Punjabi that I am though. People come to me with roles that are diametrically opposite to what I am in reality and that keeps me going.

 Thank you so much for talking to us sir, and wish you all the luck for the future. 

By: ameetbhuvan
Posted: November 4, 2013, 3:26 pm


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