Manoj Bajpayee says he had ‘no money, no food’ when he moved to Mumbai, recalls dark phase of 7 years post Satya: ‘They would turn their cameras away from me’

Manoj Bajpayee said that the 90s was a difficult period for him, filled with starvation, self-doubt and uncertainty.

Manoj Bajpayee, who has been promoting his latest release Gulmohar, a Disney Plus Hotstar feature film, recently appeared on YouTuber Ranveer Allahbadia’s channel to talk about his career, acting choices and struggling days. The acclaimed actor, who has starred in films such as Satya, Kaun, Shool, Gangs of Wasseypur, Rajneeti, among others, said there was a time when he was barely able to make ends meet.

The actor said that he was at his lowest when he moved from New Delhi to Mumbai to make a name for himself as an actor. “It was a very bad phase of my life when I came from Delhi to Mumbai, I used to work 18 hours a day in Delhi without money, in theatre, but there was a creative satisfaction. Pata nahi hota tha ki khaana kaha se aayega (I did not know from where I would get my next meal from). I had no money, but God was kind. I was busy despite the starvation. But when I came here (to Mumbai), I had no work, no food, no money. I began to doubt my talent and myself, this was in the ’90s,” Manoj said in a smattering of Hindi and English.

Adding that he was turned away from everywhere, the actor said, “I was very weak physically, and wherever I used to go, be it a set or a producer’s office, I was shown the door almost immediately, there were no casting directors back then.”

But after his performance in Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, he was given a chance by director Ram Gopal Varma in the film Daud, and then in Satya, which made him a star. But even after Satya, the actor revealed he saw bad days, and that went on for seven long years, before director Prakash Jha came knocking on his door with the political drama Rajneeti, which proved to be a hit.

“No one was touching me after Pinjar, despite today it being regarded as one of my finest works. But the film didn’t work at the box office at the time. This is how our industry works, ek bewakoof aur ghatiya darje ki film superhit ho jayegi, phir uss tarike ki film aur banti hai (One badly made film will become a blockbuster, and the rest of the industry goes on to follow the same sad formula, ignoring other better-made movies). My bad phase started, and it was there for 7 years. And when I would go to a gathering, cameramen, reporters and anchors, they would turn their mic and cameras away from me. I wouldn’t feel bad, because I knew I needed only one role to get back in the saddle, and that role was given to me in Prakash Jha’s Rajneeti,” Manoj said with a smile.

Manoj Bajpayee’s latest release is Disney Plus Hotstar film Gulmohar, which sees him sharing screen space with cinema legend Sharmila Tagore for the first time.
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