In his long and illustrious career, Manoj Bajpai has given many award-winning performances in epoch-defining films which prove him to be one of the best actors in India, and the world.
But Devashish Makhija’s stunning Joram was a special challenge for Manoj.
He tells me why. “Joram was not only emotionally challenging—and I’ve done many such roles in the past including the same director’s Bhonsle– but also physically very gruelling.Alnost throughout the film I had to carry a little baby in my hands , and it isn’t as if I was singing lullabies to her. I had to run while ensuring that the child was comfortable.”
It was a huge dilemma for Manoj. “How was I supposed to remain in character while ensuring that the child did not get the slightest uncomfortable. I was running with the baby through the toughest terrain, My main concern was not my performance this time, but the child’s safety.”
By the end of the shooting the baby and her Baba on screen became bonded.
Laughs Manoj, “Her parents were present on every single shooting day.At first she would wonder who was this stranger. Yeh kisske godi mein roz daal dete the(in whose lap was she put each day). She would look at me with her big puzzled eyes. Then as the shooting progress we got to know each other. She would smile when she was not supposed to, ha ha.”
Manoj used his own experiences as a Daddy to make little Joram(yes the film gets its title from the baby’s name) feel comfortable. “Luckily I knew how to hold a baby.I had gone through the experience. It is not easy to cuddle a baby and flee for one’s life, as I was supposed to in Joram. I hope one day the baby will show the film to her family and tell them how good a father I was on screen.”
Has Manoj Bajpai just snatched away the National award from Vikrant Massey whose stellar performance in 12th Fail was so far the most eligible performance for the honour?
Manoj dismisses my finger-crossed prophecy. “I never work for awards. No actor can say, ‘Main to iss film mein award-winning performance doonga. It doesn’t work that away. Awards are a bonus, not the reason for a performance.”