It's no less than a landmark for Manoj Bajpayee who successfully survived in the ruthless industry for over 26 years. For someone who hailed from Bihar to the city of dreams, Mumbai, it wasn't easy to make a mark as he has been tested time and again but his talent spoke volumes of his prowess. There have been many ups and downs but he kept going as he believed in the craft that he nurtured over the years. Now, his next venture Bhonsle has been streaming online on SonyLiv and is worth your attention.
Well, I got an opportunity to talk to Manoj Bajpayee for the TRP points of Bhonsle, the emergence of OTT platforms, the issue of locals vs migrants in a city, as shown in the movie, and much more.
Here are excerpts from my interview:
It was to be released in 2018 and after a delay of 2 years, finally, the movie has been released on the OTT platform and will have the voice. What do you have to say about it?
We were planning for a theatre release anyway and when the lockdown happened, we discussed the new outlook and that was a marketing call. In the given scenario, theatre wonât give any justice to an independent film like this as you have no idea how many theatres, you would be able to release the movie, how many shows we will be getting. The theatre owners have to take the slots of independent movies as they have big banner movies to cater to. So, an OTT release is a win-win situation for an independent movie like this.
From Satya to Bhonsle, do you think that people are now accepting the real cinema and real talent? Well, people do opt for movies that are trashy and add no value to oneâs cinematic knowledge but thereâs a slow and gradual change.
After Satya, the cinema has gone through a lot of evolution as multiplexes have joined in. They needed more and more content to fill the theatres. What started happening was those big producers who had big banner movies started to book most of the screens for themselves and small films started to less importance. It became more difficult and distributors started to play less head. With OTT platforms coming to emergence, there is some kind of relief among the independent filmmakers. Their intent to cater to independent cinema and giving them the space to showcase their work is indeed a great change. I think, in between, they did start drifting away from the independent movies and showing big-budget movies.
Sir, I do agree that OTT platforms did drift apart a bit but over the years, I have come to the realisation itâs the story that matters more than the star value. Well, the star value can add to the fame quotient but the story is what will keep the viewers hooked.
See, I have never been in favour of the star-driven content. I feel that cinema is much bigger than that. If you see at OTT, from dropping the trailer to finally streaming it, people start promoting it because of the content and the shows I have done until now, I just tweeted about it twice and I realized that it has crossed 20 million views on YouTube. Just imagine 20 million views for a filmâs trailer that didnât find a single theatre. Doesnât it teach the fact that content is far superior than any other factors involved? People see it and write about it on social media and through the word of mouth, itâs getting the appreciation it deserves. Stars donât guarantee the fact that the viewers will connect to the story if the content is not worth it. If the content deserves, the viewers become the promoters and PRs of the movie or the show and 1971 is the biggest example.
Thank you all for making 1971 a success and giving itâs due after 13 yrs .@chirucam #1971movie @AmritSagar @BajpayeeManoj @ravikishann
#writerPiyushMishra #ramanandsagar @SagarPictures pic.twitter.com/XBNtSUhDOB
I always wanted to know why we see a lot of stars heading to promote their movie by going to several city tours and doing gigs to promote their movie but I havenât seen you or many other actors doing the same. Is it some strategic move or you donât believe in promoting your work this way?
This trend started with all the big-budget movies who had the extra money to promote their work and that has now become a norm. All these interviews and city tours that they do is because they want to assure that they get good numbers in theatres and this norm has damaged the small films who are shot on fewer budgets. If you start adding Rs 1 to 2 crores just on promotion, how low-budget movies will recover the cost of production when theatres are not favourable to the small movies?
I do agree with the facts you just mentioned. Moving on from the business aspect, I would want to appreciate the fact that your character looks real on the screen. You make them look way too convincing and you completely mould yourself in the character. After I saw Bhonsleâs trailer, I saw only Bhonsle the character and not Manoj Bajpayee. How do you manage to do that?
Just an approach, Apoorva, and nothing else for that matter. But, I do make a conscious effort to make my character look believable and convincing on the screen. Otherwise, people will not relate to your character. When you make realistic cinema, you have to be in the moment and itâs not like the mainstream cinema. You have to be in the character to survive your movie.June 26, 2020
All your movies have some or the other socio-cultural messages, be it Aligarh or Bhonsle. This one talks about the plight of migrants and you yourself are a migrant in the city of Mumbai. I, too, have stayed there and the initial period was more of bullying me for the fact that I belonged to Delhi. Whatâs your take on it?
The âlocals vs migrantsâ is a very prevalent issue and they have been clashing with each other for years now. Wherever these migrants are coming from have no opportunities in their lands and they converge into big cities for livelihood and whatâs the harm in that. If you ask these migrants to go back, where would they go back? Locals have their own perspectives but you can have a conversation without being violent as we all belong to one country so instead of feeling threatened by the outsiders, we need to start having a conversation as cities are the only places where we have the facilities. I feel healthy debates and conversations are welcomed rather than clash.
Before I let you go, can you tell me what according to you are the TRP points of Bhonsle?
The TRP points are the script, filmmaking, performances, sound, and cinematography. Itâs uncompromising and it will strike you in the beginning and test your patience, and then excite you and in the end, it will leave you with good memories. People will become the promoters of the movie if they love it.
We hope that people will understand the meaning of real talent!