Prominent Indian actor Manoj Bajpayee has recently starred in Zee5's thriller drama ‘Dial 100,’ the latest addition to an illustrious career spanning over more than two decades. Earlier this week, the three-time National Film Award winner sat down with Dhaka Tribune Showtime's Sadia Khalid and discussed his upcoming film, the rise of streaming platforms and the future of Bollywood
Tell us a bit about the plot.
The story takes place over the course of a night. By the time the sun rises, Nikhil Sood, the protagonist of the film, is a changed man.
He is a typical middle class Indian, who remains preoccupied with his job and is emotionally absent from the lives of his son and wife. Things change when one night he receives a disturbing call from a woman. .
How was your experience working with Neena Gupta?
She is a lovely actor, who played the woman on the phone. She has delivered tremendous performances over the years, been incredibly gracious to me and my family. I also loved working with Sakshi Tanwar. She actually started her career from a play that I directed. She played the lead. That was her first job as an actor. I am very proud of how far she has come
You are best known for taking on versatile roles. You've also played law enforcement personnel before. Did this role challenge you in any way?
It was frankly very challenging. I had to convey a wide range of emotions in one night. Maintaining the emotional continuity was quite a task. It really tested all my skills as an actor.
This film doesn't seem to feature the typical Bollywood glamour and action. Do you think the Bollywood landscape is slowly moving away from the old format?
Well, yes. The OTTs have been doing well for the last 5-6 years. The format of these platforms is structured in a way that audience get to see the entire content of a show, at one go. Nothing stays hidden from the audience. You really have to have quality stuff in your film to keep your audiences glued to the screen, or they would just simply turn off the screen or move on to something new and better. So the abundance of content really pushes us to make quality films and dramas. You cannot only rely on songs and dances or the typical formula films anymore.
In India, we are also seeing an interesting development where many elements of the Malayam and Tamil industries are merging. So it's a pretty exciting time for actors. New things are being tried every day.
You have had a long career and you never really took a break. How did you manage to sustain yourself in such a controlled industry? Do you have any advice for youngsters?
I have no advice. I just thank God. Somehow I managed to survive in this industry. Along the way, I had some successes, some failures, but at least I am still here.
Have you even been to Bangladesh?
No, but I really want to be there. Please tell someone to invite me. Once this lockdown is lifted, maybe someone from Bangladesh will take me in. Jokes aside, I did work on a film called Chittagong some time ago, which was filmed in northeast Bengal.