‘I Was An Outsider Trying To Fit In’, Manoj Bajpayee Opens About His Bollywood Journey

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has left the nation in deep shock. While the suicide incident has also underlined the need for taking mental health issues seriously. His demise has also led people to speak up about nepotism and the issues they have been battling with. For an outsider, it’s not easy to make a name in the Bollywood industry.

Popular film actor Manoj Bajpayee, who is famous for bringing nuance and depth to characters especially the grey roles in the movies, opened up and talked about the hardship he faced from Bihar to Bollywood while speaking to Humans of Bombay.


Manoj Bajpayee
Courtesy: YouTube.com

Manoj Bajpayee’s Journey In The Film Industry

Manoj Bajpayee is a farmer’s son who went to a hut school. He speaks about his journey here. “I’m a farmer’s son; I grew up in a village in Bihar with 5 siblings–we went to a hut school. We led a simple life, but whenever we went to the city, we’d go to the theatre. I was a Bachchan fan & wanted to be like him. At 9, I knew acting was my destiny. But I couldn’t afford to dream & continued my studies. Still, my mind refused to focus on anything else, so at 17, I left for DU. There, I did theatre but my family had no idea. Finally, I wrote a letter to dad–he wasn’t angry & even sent me Rs.200 to cover my fees! People back home called me ‘good for nothing’ but I turned a blind eye.

Manoj Bajpayee talked about being an outsider and how he learnt English, “I was an outsider, trying to fit in. So, I taught myself English & Hindi–Bhojpuri was a big part of how I spoke. I then applied to NSD but was rejected thrice. I was close to committing suicide, so my friends would sleep next to me & not leave me alone. They kept me going until I was accepted. That year, I was at a chai shop when Tigmanshu came looking for me on his khatara scooter–Shekhar Kapur wanted to cast me in Bandit Queen! So I felt I was ready & moved to Mumbai. Initially, it was tough–I rented a chawl with 5 friends & looked for work, but got no roles. Once, an AD tore my photo & I’ve lost 3 projects in a day. I was even told to ‘get out’ after my 1st shot. I didn’t fit the ideal ‘hero’ face–so they thought I’d never make it to the big screen. All the while, I struggled to make rent & at times even a vada pav was costly. But the hunger in my stomach couldn’t dissuade my hunger to succeed.

Manoj struggled for 4 years and then got a big TV series – Satya. “After 4 years of struggle, I got a role in Mahesh Bhatt’s TV series. I got Rs.1500 per episode–my first steady income. My work was noticed & I was offered my first Bollywood film & soon, I got my big break with ‘Satya’. That’s when the awards rolled in. I bought my first house & knew…I was here to stay. 67 films later, here I am. That’s the thing about dreams–when it comes to turning them into reality, the hardships don’t matter. What matters is the belief of that 9-year-old Bihari boy & nothing else.”