Manoj: Special 26 is a light hearted and a smart thriller
He has more often chosen characters rooted in a certain blurred, offbeat ambiguity, yet commercial in nature and loved by the audience worldwide. It simply means that Manoj Bajpayee is a cult actor. He is not an actor who goes out of his way to draw attention to himself – there is no grandstanding, no pleading for the audience’s love or attention. He’s an actor who disappears into the role. Over the course of a career spanning 20 years, over 45 films, and 2 National Awards, Bajpayee has come to define the difference between a movie star and a good actor. As of now, Manoj is busy taking his joyful approach to life and work pretty seriously. While on set, he’s menacing to a few but off screen he’s just a loving father. Don’t be surprised if you spot him shopping in a mall or a high end store for his little daughter. One of the things that Manoj finds so exciting about life is that it’s always surprised him. Every once in a while few films will come along that transcends all of his expectations. So many things have to fall in place to make that happen, but when it does….it gives results such as Gangs of Wasseypur, Shootout At Wadala and Special 26. I spoke to the actor who hasn’t just changed the definition of great acting; he has re-invented it over and over again. Ain’t he ‘special’?From what happened in real life, Special 26 looks too humorous as a genre.
Special 26 is a light hearted and a smart thriller. Without too much violence, this film teaches you that you can still make a slick period thriller and make it joyful too. This film is filled with lots of moments. It is very intelligently woven by Neeraj Pandey into a thriller. It’s a good lesson in that genre.
But what really triggered Neeraj to make this film?
The real robbery happened at the jewellery shop in 1986 and from there the seed of this movie took off. After that, Neeraj has researched the film so well. All the characters are so real. You can feel them and they are a part of a great hide n seek sequence. It’s humorous, it has music and it has some memorable performances.
I’m sure your character was researched well too.
My character is influenced on some CBI officer. I know that because Neeraj Pandey went and met a lot of CBI officers for this film. He must’ve put in a lot of real references into my role and I’m sure he’s tried to make my character look as real as possible. The officer’s role I play of Mr. Khan is of a doting father, a conservative guy at home, but when he comes to his office he is so focused that he hates to be defeated.
If there was a cop role I can think of, it’s Shool. What a performance!
Thank you. Shool was a cult movie. It’s not only critically acclaimed but it’s a classic for me. The role was of an honest police officer and wrong things that were happening to him in his life. His fight in Shool was to fight corruption. In Special 26, nothing wrong happens to him but the fight is of ‘who wins’ in this game of fake and real. Shool was an intense movie. I couldn’t get out of my character for months.
Do you see Neeraj ever making a masala entertainer?
I don’t think Neeraj will ever make a masala film but he will definitely make a film with all the ingredients of the masala. Neeraj will make his kind of films. It was a thriller that had a lot of relevance to the real life. These new directors are taking stories from our lives and putting it on the celluloid. It’s amazing. That’s why it’s so relatable.
Akshay doing a Special 26 is like him taking a u-turn after seeing the genres he’s worked on since a decade.
I’ve worked with Akshay Kumar in a film titled Bewafa that didn’t do too well. But let me tell you, Akshay is such a pleasant human being. He immediately brings a smile on your face. He is not only a huge star of our film industry but also an intelligent guy when it comes to picking the right scripts. He found all the elements of an entertainer in Special 26. With Akshay’s presence it gets a big release and a wider audience. That’s his power. We are all proud of the film we’ve made and none of us is insecure about our roles what-so-ever.
You’ve done period flicks before. Is it a challenge to work in period dramas or movies that are set in current times?
I don’t look at films as period films or current. The script has to engage a reader, that’s me. I read a script as an audience watching a movie. I want to be entertained like never before. It has to be different but yet appealing. I always look for uniqueness in the character and the script. Then I look at the director who will be guiding the ship (film) to the shores safely but with all the risks. Pinjar, that got me my second National Award was a period film based on a novel. But when that script came to me, I was dying to be a part of it. I wanted that film to start immediately. I get inspired by great scripts.
So, tell me, Asli Power Dil Mein Hoti Hai?
That line is fantastic. And yes, it is true. I can say that because I am not the fake one (laughs). The dialogues are going to be very popular. Just wait and watch! Special 26 is one of a kind and I promise you’ll be entertained thoroughly.
Anupam is a part of an Oscar nominated Silver Linings Playbook, Mr. Bachchan doing the Great Gatsby, Anil Kapoor did his Slumdog Millionaire. An actor like you should be looking at great scripts in the West. What say?
Thank you but I have my excuse ready. A great actor like Naseeruddin Shah didn’t get anything out of the West. But I am a person who welcomes auditions. I am ready to audition for an Indian film, forget Hollywood. I will do it for any role I want to do. That’s a job of an actor, isn’t it? As of now, when good roles are being written by many writers, it’s time to be challenged and do good work in India in a phase that’s changing the shape of our films for good.
Tagged Manoj Bajpai