Manoj Bajpayee says ‘Bollywood is an impossible industry for an outsider like me’

Manoj Bajpayee has come a long way in Bollywood after first getting noticed in Satya for his role of ‘Bhiku Mhatre’, a gangster.

The actor, known for essaying unconventional and powerful roles (Sardar Khan in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, Professor in ‘Aligarh’), has been bestowed with the Padma Shri, for his contribution to Indian cinema.

Read: Here’s why Manoj Bajpayee says ‘Bollywood is an impossible industry for an outsider like me’

Here are some interesting trivia from Manoj Bajpayee’s life:

Most of us probably know that Manoj Bajpayee was rejected by the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD). But not many are aware that he tried two more times to get into NSD but was rejected on all the three occassions.


Manoj had no desire to venture into another profession to earn a living, and knew that the only thing that would sustain him in the long run were the skills he learnt. Manoj Bajpayee worked as a trainee with acting coach and theatre director Barry John. Over time, John started paying Manoj a salary of Rs 1,200. Manoj also got the opportunity to work with NSD alumni and teachers, and went on to conduct a few workshops at the NSD campus. Manoj still visits Barry John on his birthdays, and Barry says “Manoj is like family to me.”

Those were years of extreme poverty. Sometimes if we got a sponsor we would get paid a thousand or two a month, but that was rare. It was only thanks to supportive friends who were ready to share everything they had, from a roof to food and meagre savings, that I managed to survive what was a really difficult decade. Back in the village, my parents were worried for me and my mother would sometimes not eat for a couple of days. Fortunately, there were no phones in the village and the only way of communicating with them was through letters so they had no idea how bad things really were. But these are the sacrifices you make to reach somewhere.

Tigmanshu Dhulia, casting director for Bandit Queen, recommended Manoj’s name to Shekhar Kapur. Manoj was paid Rs 50,000 for the role of dacoit Mann Singh. Half of the money was spent on settling bills with the local chaiwalla, and with the remaining Rs 25,000, Manoj and Saurabh Shukla moved to Mumbai and shared a room in a chawl.

TV serial Swabhimaan gave Manoj the financial freedom to live alone. While working on Mahesh Bhatt’s Tamanna, Mahesh Bhatt got Pooja’s mother to give her one-bedroom flat on rent to Manoj. Manoj used to earn around Rs 16-17,000 of which he used to pay Rs 6000 as house rent.

Shahrukh Khan and Manoj Bajpayee have known each other for a long time. They have been working together since childhood in theatre. The two were part of Barry John’s theatre group in Delhi.

Manoj’s most famous role has been of Bhiku Mhatre from Satya; he thinks Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) who directed Satya (1998) was a god send to small actors like him who were not favoured by filmmakers. “RGV created that space for us,” says Manoj.

After Satya, Manoj was job less home for several years, refusing to do work in the commercial space. However, Manoj is glad that he waited. “If I had gone ahead and compromised on my sensibilities and done those roles, I would have not only harmed myself, but the cause of independent cinema and those actors who entered the industry after me.”

manoj bajpayee

On nepotism, Manoj says Bollywood has always been a family business. You really have to be as lucky as a Shah Rukh Khan or an Akshay Kumar to make it big. However, that should not deter newcomers from outside. “I will work on my skills so much that you won’t be able to ignore me. This should be the resolve of all actors coming from outside.”

Many eyebrows were raised when Manoj Bajpayee’s brilliant performance in Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh (played the role of a gay Professor) was ignored for the National awards; instead Akshay Kumar won the National Award for his works in Rustom and Airlift.

I accept the Padma Shri with full humility, knowing what goes into the making of an actor and his evolution as a person. My wife is over the moon, my parents and siblings are overwhelmed and as for my village, state and district, it seems like they have bagged the honour.

Manoj Bajpayee receives highest honor at Festival Of Globe in California
Manoj Bajpayee receives highest honor at Festival Of Globe, held in California, for his contribution to Indian cinema. Manoj also lead the India Day Parade as the chief guest and grand marshal marking the 70th year of India’s independence.

“It is a moment of pride for us to have this great actor of Indian cinema as our prestigious guest for this year. Our journey with the festival began 25 years ago, right about the time Manoj ji made his foray into Indian cinema. We are grateful for having him and welcoming him to The Bay Area and pay a fine tribute and introduce him to our ‘golden’ city and his thousands of fans,” founder of FOG Dr. Romesh Japra said in the statement.

The week-long Festival Of Globe (FOG) is an International film festival that blends world cinema with the Silicon Valley. Like other film festivals, this event is also a platform for entertainment, cultural and business exchange, where films are screened, and celebrities, investors, businessmen and even politicians, come under one roof.