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"Keeping it real has brought international success"

Gone are the days when an A-list cast spelt success for a film as audiences today are embracing all types of cinema. In this realm is Gangs Of Wasseypur, which recently won accolades at Cannes. A prominent face of the film is actor Manoj Bajpayee, who believes GoW is one of the most challenging movies he’s done so far.

What made you sign Gangs Of Wasseypur?

Frankly, I signed the film because of director Anurag Kashyap. He is such a talented director and everyone wants to work with him. He is very clear about what he wants out of a film. And the script was too good to pass up.

How do you select a script?

Many people think I don’t do enough films but I am very choosy. The director, producer and cast are not deciding factors for me. I think of how well I could portray the character. But the script has to appeal to me and I should relate to the character, whether a rustic film or an international film.

Do you think the audience likes you more when you play a grey character?

Everyone, in real life too, has shades of grey and I am really happy that we now show this in our cinema. There was a time when films used to have only happy endings. Now they are more rooted in reality and include all types of characters. This change has made us reach international film festivals. When we went to Cannes recently, audiences loved the film even tough they did not understand the language. Obviously, there were subtitles but it was still a thrill, especially since this film is five hours long.

Tell us something about your character in the film?

The film is about the coal mafia and my character is called Sardar Khan. I am a guy who has no sense of morality and is very selfish, violent and very greedy. Actually, this was one of the toughest roles I have played to date because despite so many negative shades, I have to still appear adorable.

You were born and raised in Bihar. Have you ever heard of Wasseypur?

Never. Wasseypur is now in Jharkhand but I had not heard of the place. It was only after Anurag narrated the story to me that I learnt of the place. Our films play a very important role in the lives of the people in Wasseypur because some of them live like film characters.

What was it like working with Anurag Kashyap?

After Shekhar Kapur, if there’s one director who brings the best out the best in his actors it’s Anurag Kashyap. He is every actor’s director. For many, if it’s an Anurag Kashyap film, they simply have to watch it.

Are you satisfied with the roles you’re getting?

I am an actor and hence I am never satisfied. I think I can do more versatile roles. The audience has seen just 40 per cent of my talent. The rest is yet to be discovered.

Tell us about future projects.

My film Chittagong is ready and will release soon in India. This film too has been given the thumbs up by the international audience. I have also just finished Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh and Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26. Both films will release this year and, from next month, I will start shooting for Sanjay Gupta’s Shootout At Wadala.

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