Manoj, your thoughts on Satya?

What can I say about Satya? It has given me a career. It has done everything that I’ve never thought would happen to my life. And the credit goes to only one person, that is Ram Gopal Verma. What a visionary, what a brave and audacious guy.

Did you think at that time Satya may typecast you as a gangster?

You know, I personally always followed this principal in life: when you believe in something, just go for it. Don’t think about consequences. Don’t think about what people will say. Don’t think about the people who will start lobbying against you. Just keep your focus intact and keep your goal in mind and keep following it.

It is hard to believe Satya was released 26 years ago?

26 years of Satya, can you believe it? You know, these are the things that make me really feel old now. So many years gone by, but one thing has never changed. That Satya has given me a career. Ram Gopal Verma, his audacity and his vision changed many people’s lives. And I’m also the one. So I have a lot to thank Mr. Ram Gopal Verma and Satya.

Where do you position Satya in your career?

My career’s highest point will always be Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya.Coming from Bihar, at the age of 18 to Delhi to do theatre, hoping to become an actor in Mumbai… I did Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen and then sat at home doing nothing.Financially and emotionally, I was completely broke.When I got Satya, I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know where it would go.

Not even your parents?

No. Then suddenly, I was a household phenomenon It would be a high point for any struggling actor.It was a game-changer for my career.I can never forget what Satya did to my career.

Is it true you were initially offered the title role?

I was never offered the title role. Ramu met me for a small role in Daud, the role of Paresh Rawal’s assistant. Ramu realized I was the same actor whom he had liked in Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen. He said he was completely bowled over by my performance as Maan Singh in Bandit Queen. He wanted to immediately cast me.Ramu had no script for the film that he wanted to cast me in. Only an idea that was in his head about a film on the underworld. He wanted to do with the Mumbai mafia what Shekhar Kapoor had done with the dacoits in Bandit Queen. He was quite intrigued by the idea.

Ramu cast you without a script?

Yes,then came the writing. Ramu wanted me to get him writers for his underworld film. That’s how Anurag Kashyap and Saurav Shukla came on board. As the script started taking shape Ramu and the co-writers began to feel that they needed an actor with a theatre background to play Bhiku Mhatre. He was turning out to the most intriguing character in Satya. For the title role Ramu thought he would cast Chakravarthy who has terrific screen presence.

What did you get to know about Ram Gopal Varma while working with him?

In Daud I had a very small role, so I couldn’t interact with him much.But in Satya I encountered a new Ram Gopal Verma.I could see his passion and energy growing with every moment.The important thing was to treat the character of Bhiku Mhatre as a human being who represented all the anti-social characters in our society.I had to avoid making him a caricature.At the same time I had to make Bhiku Mhatre a prototype of the gangster.While trying to feel think and act like Bhiku Mhatre I couldn’t help being affected. When I was going through my initial struggle I sometimes began to doubt my own abilities. In Satya, I was like a corpse being revived.

Why didn’t the two of you work together again?

God willing, we will work together again.Never say never again.