Manoj Bajpayee talks about his early days in Mumbai:

Actor Manoj Bajpayee spoke about being out of work, hungry, and hopeless when he first moved to Mumbai with fellow.

Actor Manoj Bajpayee spoke about being out of work, hungry, and hopeless when he first moved to Mumbai with fellow actor Saurabh Shukla.

Manoj Bajpayee talks about his early days in Mumbai: 2 Manoj Bajpayee talks about his early days in Mumbai:

Actor Manoj Bajpayee recalls living in ‘poverty’ while working in the Delhi theatre circuit, and then after he moved to Mumbai at the insistence of Bandit Queen director Shekhar Kapur. The actor said that initially, the poverty didn’t bother him, because he was so immersed in his work, but over time, he began to realise the importance of financial security. In a chat with his Killer Soup co-star Konkona Sensharma for Indian Express, Manoj looked back on his time at Delhi University, and then experiencing the customary struggle after he moved to Mumbai.

He said that he values theatre more than cinema, because in cinema, he feels he is too dependent on other departments. “It really prepares you, physically, mentally, emotionally. It really aligns you, and that happens to every actor. But the days were of complete poverty. But those days were when you could not get the time to think about poverty. If you don’t have money to eat, you’re not thinking about eating, because you’re so involved and engrossed in what you’re doing, you’re forgetting that you didn’t have food.” Ironically, Manoj hasn’t had dinner in 14 years for health reasons.

Konkona said, “That doesn’t happen to everyone. How lovely that it happened to you, though. Manoj said that it’s ‘a good thing’ to be broke when you’re young. You have that energy, you have that passion. You learn how to survive. It’s a life skill.” Manoj recalled that it was his Bandit Queen director Shekhar Kapur who knocked some practical sense into him, when he urged him and his fellow theatre actors to try their luck in Mumbai, which is where the money was.

But things didn’t go swimmingly after he made the move with Saurabh Shukla. “First few years were very hard, because you’re not doing anything. There’s no difference between a boy coming straight from a small town or a village without any experience in acting, and you coming from a very strong theatre background. When you are without work, the poverty pinches you more. It was true for everyone, but Saurabh was far more calmer. He would be a very gentle company in those hard days. Saurabh never looked at difficult days as difficult days, he always thought that it was temporary, in the evenings we’d manage a few drinks, make some food.”

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Manoj said that it was his job to clean their small chawl apartment, and do the dishes, while Saurabh cooked the food. Manoj was catapulted to success after a chance encounter with director Ram Gopal Varma, who’d seen him in Bandit Queen, but had no idea who he was. In an earlier conversation with his friend, actor Sayaji Shinde, Manoj recalled how desperate he was for work at the time, and that he was disappointed when RGV declined to offer him a small role because he had something bigger planned for him. “I felt good, but I knew that I’d lose out on the money I’d make for this film, and I needed to pay rent. Many people make promises like this. So I told him, ‘Sir, woh jab hoga toh hoga, mujhe yeh karne dijiye, mujhe paise ki zarurat hai‘. He said, ‘Trust me, I’ll make that film with you,’ but I insisted on this role,” he said.

Manoj did the film, Daud, and went on to star in Satya. He will be seen alongside Konkona and Sayaji Shinde in the upcoming dark comedy drama series Killer Soup, due out on Netflix on January 11. He was last seen in the film Joram.

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