اردو
  • Manoj Bajpayee on divorces, substance abuse in Bollywood

    Manoj Bajpayee File Photo Manoj Bajpayee

    Manoj Bajpayee, a quiet force in the Bollywood scene, sat down for a heart-to-heart on Sushant Sinha’s podcast, voicing his views on the spiking divorce rate of today, substance abuse in Bollywood, and the Sanjay Leela Bhansali role he ended up declining.

    The influence of Bollywood has often been accused of leading to a spike in divorce cases prevalent in India. However, Bajpayee insisted that the fault lay not with the film industry, but with the rise of nuclear families spreading throughout society.

    “If you go to Tees Hazari Court and ask about the divorce rate, you will realise where we have come today, where relationships and marriages are breaking every day,” he lamented. “Our society adopted the nuclear family trend, and there are benefits of it too, but the harm that the nuclear family trend caused, you can see it in the courts.”

    According to Bajpayee, whatever viewers see on Bollywood is a mere reflection of society, rather than a catalyst for change. “People who belong to the same society are part of the industry,” he remarked. “When people belong to the same society, then isn’t it obvious that the change in society will also be visible in the industry?”

    Bajpayee conceded that, like in the rest of the country, the rate of divorces amongst actors had risen. “Previously, in the same industry, there were not as many divorces as today,” he acknowledged. “But in its behaviour, the industry is very open-minded.”

    Meanwhile, due to the very public nature of Bollywood, it is only a matter of time before an actor’s struggles with substance abuse are laid bare for the rest of the world. But does the Gangs of Wasseypur actor think the problem of drugs is specific to the film industry? It appears not.

    “If someone is ever caught doing the wrong thing in some corner of the industry, that doesn’t prove anything,” stated Bajpayee, dismissing claims that Bollywood has a “dark side”. “Me and my friends and co-stars also belong to the same industry. I can tell 95% of them are very passionate, very sincere, not only about the films they are doing but also [about] their family and friends.”

    Secure in the knowledge that he personally is not in cahoots with anyone embroiled with drugs, Bajpayee reaffirmed his stance by adding, “A few incidents here and there cannot prove that the whole industry is like that.”

    The Silence 2 actor has made a name for himself within Bollywood – which he prefers to call “the Hindi film industry" – with projects such as The Family Man and Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai.

    He revealed that at one time, he had been in the running for the role of Chunnilal in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, but ended up turning the part down. The part was eventually brought to life by Jackie Shroff. “I’d wanted to play Devdas since my theatre days, ever since I’d watched Dilip Kumar’s film or read the book. But I never felt bad [for letting the part go],” he added.

    Hailing from a humble background without contacts in the movie industry, Bajpayee started his film career with a one-minute role in Govind Nihalani's Drohkaal (1994) and worked his way up with a series of minor roles. Having racked up a string of roles in spy/crime thrillers in recent years, the actor is next slated to appear in Bhaiyya Ji, followed by Despatch and The Fable.