RENAISSANCE MAN
Filmfare|April 2021
RAGHUVENDRA SINGH TALKS TO MANOJ BAJPAYEE, WHO IS UNDERGOING ANOTHER TRANSFORMATION IN HIS CAREER, THANKS TO HIS POPULARITY ON OTT
RAGHUVENDRA SINGH

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT is described as a phenomenon whereby a minute localised change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. That’s what the emergence of OTT platforms has done to the lives of both content creators and viewers. Actors have benefited most from it as now they’re being judged on the merit of their performance and not their star value. Manoj Bajpayee, a star performer for the last 20 years, found himself marginalisd in movies lately. But he made a resurgence, thanks to the humongous popularity of The Family Man, where he played the title role. He was an unusual choice to play a secret agent but proved to be the show’s leading light, thanks to his split-second timing. The second season of the show will start soon and Manoj is understandably excited about it...

You seem ahead of your times. You did short films much before anyone else and won awards for them. Then you jumped on the OTT bandwagon and won the Filmfare Best Actor In A Drama Series (Critics’) Award for The Family Man as well…

Thank you very much. When I was in Cannes a couple of years ago to promote Bhonsle, I saw a 20-year-old boy getting mobbed by the French audience. And when I enquired about it, they told me that he is a YouTube star from France. No other Hollywood or French actor got that kind of attention from the audience. So I learnt that this is the way ahead. This is the way the world is spinning these days. My wife kept pushing me to do short films. All of them got so many awards. Looking at the world and the changing patterns, you can realise what’s the way forward. This is not rocket science. I just keep my eyes open about every activity and the way the world is responding to it. I have an eye on each and every actor who’s working today. All the young actors and how they’re experimenting with their performances and how they’re reinventing the craft. So you keep changing, reinventing yourself — otherwise, survival would be difficult.

How has the COVID-19 situation changed things for an actor?

Our immediate entertainment source was only cinema earlier. Then the next preference was satellite channels and then OTT. But suddenly because of the pandemic, everyone got locked inside their homes. OTT platforms were already there for people to watch anything and everything from anywhere. That changed the demographics. When people started watching more and more OTT stuff, they started investing heavily in their own favourite shows, favourite actors and suddenly by the end of nine months, you had a parallel world of entertainment. When theatres were still struggling, this emerged as a viable option even for filmmakers. The audience got exposed to not only different content, but also to content which opened their eyes to different kinds of talent that weren’t fully utilised in cinema. Because cinema has its limitations — due to box-office and/or its length. I just hope, even after cinema-life comes back to normal, these new choices made by the audience will continue to flourish.

If The Family Man were made into a film today, would the impact be the same as on the digital platform?

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