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Necessity is your enemy: Manoj Bajpayee

The National School of Drama (NSD) is back with its annual theatre festival – 'Bharat Rang Mahotsav'. The International Drama Festival is a paradise for theatre-lovers. With its 19th edition of 'Bharat Rang Mahotsav,' NSD featured some outstanding performances by renowned theatre groups from different parts of the world.One of the main attractions of the second edition was the presence of versatile Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee. Dressed in plain jeans, tee-shirt and leather jacket, the actor spoke his heart out on theatre and his life struggles.

Born in Belwa, Bihar, Manoj shared anecdotes from his early days as a struggling actor. He talked about how he battled the odds. He said, "The students getting admission into NSD do not have to face these struggles because the director and teachers take good care of them. All they have to do is work hard, learn the craft." The Gangs of Wasseypur actor never made it into NSD but he made sure that he continued to learn the craft. He worked under the guidance of renowned theatre artists like Barry John.

"One of the limitations in today's theatre is that there is too much emphasis on realism and we are forgetting about characterisation. Forgetting the character, we are trying to make it realistic.

This is not possible. There is a fraud going on in the name if realism," the actor said when asked about his journey so far. For him, the director is the last word as he is the one who has written the script and has a vision about it, "It is important to keep the director by your side as the film is his baby, it is his work.

You should not negate or surpass the director. The success behind the script lies in the decision of the director. His vision and his interpretation is important," he said and later added "director is the captain you should trust all the time."

While talking about the technique of getting into the skin of the character, he said wearing a character is very important, but the real art lies in "getting out of the character". He is clear on what he says. According to him what differentiates one actor from another is the way he has been "nurtured" so far.

Known for his hard-hitting roles in films like Satya, Raajneeti and Aligarh, he clearly remembers those struggling days when he never knew the world beyond Mandi house and immersed himself completely into theatre. Starting his day from 5:30 every morning, his philosophy is simple yet effective. "I have never let my necessity increase. So earning was never a priority. The more you keep a check on your necessities, the more you can find roles according to your choice. Necessity is your enemy," he said.

He did not deny the fact of financial insecurity when it comes to theatre and pointed out that theatre is surviving only because of sheer passion and not because of any mentorship or patronage from any government or private bodies. "This profession gives us no guarantee. Being from NSD or some other reputed theatre group does not guarantee your career here. It's a completely different world in Mumbai."

"But, yes if you have a passion for your art, and you are doing it without any greed in your mind, then nothing can stop you from excelling," he added. Far from blaming the filmmakers for not promoting the independent cinema in India, actor Manoj Bajpayee says the fault lies with the "viewers" as they don't turn up to watch indie projects.

The actor is allergic to all Hindi cinema being referred to as "Bollywood", and feels the Government has not done enough to promote art and culture. The actor is of the view that in a democratic country like India, a single censor board cannot change the whole scenario. "First of all we need recognition from the government; we need the government to look into this world which is paying so much of revenue. It is government's responsibility to organise the whole sector and look into the problems. None of the government has ever cared about us. " he said.

"The only way to change the scenario is to keep on making such independent movies. In a country like ours, where art and culture are bringing in so much revenue, it should be dealt with absolute sincerity so as to project a good future for the people dealing with it".
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