Manoj Bajpayee is an eminent Indian film actor, who mainly works in Hindi movies and also had a fair share of work, in Telegu and Tamil movies respectively. Born on 23rd April 1969, in Belwa; West Champaran district of Bihar, he aspired to become an actor from the early ages of childhood. As a school-going boy, he would often spend his vacations farming in the fields. He is one of those excellent artists who struggled and created his own mark in the acting industry without the help of any godfather. He is a versatile actor, who portrayed his talent in many films over time and was honored with Padma Shri in 2019. Bajpayee is a director’s actor and a method actor. He has the capability to portray a lot even in simple and minute roles. He is embodied with subtleness and down-to-earth qualities, which make him an authentic actor.
Born in the city of Bettiah, he is the second child to his parents amongst his five other siblings. One of his sisters is a fashion designer in the film industry namely, Poonam Dubey. His father was a farmer and his mother a housewife, it was tough for his father to collect money for the schooling of the kids. Bajpayee studied in a hut school, later studied in Khrist Raja High School, Bettiah. He did his high school at Maharani Janaki Kunwar College in Bettiah itself. At the age of seventeen, Bajpayee moved to Delhi and went to Satyawati then to Ramjas College, Delhi University. He had a deep longing for an acting career since childhood hence he tried for the National School of Drama, but was rejected three times. He wanted to commit suicide but then attended director and acting coach Barry John’s acting workshop. He got hired by John to assist him in his teaching. He got selected for the teaching position on his fourth try at the National School of Drama.
Bajpai was before, married a girl from Delhi, later on, he got divorced and married actor Shabana Raza also known as Neha in 2006. The couple has a daughter.
He had played a one-minute role in Drohkaal (1994) by Govind Nihalani. In his struggling years, he played in a soap opera Swabhimaan offered by Mahesh Bhatt. He performed in the soap with a low fee. He appeared in minor roles in Dastak(1996) and Tamanna(1997). He also played a role in the biographical drama Bandit Queen. Earlier he was cast as the dacoit Vikram Mallah but later on, it went to Nirmal Pandey, and he got the role of dacoit Mann Singh. During this time, he also acted in a television show called Kalakaar directed by Hansal Mehta and Imtihaan in Doordarshan. Bajpayee had a supporting role in the comedy film Daud(1997) by Ram Gopal Varma on the completion of which, Varma regrated giving Bajpayee a minor role, but he promised to give him a major one in his next movie. Satya(1998) was their next project together where he played the role of a gangster called Bhiku.
Satya was a commercial success and Bajpayee won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and Filmfare Critics Award for his outstanding performance. His performance got further accolades when Filmfare later in 2010 issue included his performance in the Bollywood’s Top 80 Iconic performances. His next venture was in the movies Kaun? And Shool with Ram Gopal Varma directing the former and producing the latter. Kaun was a three-character movie that was a box office disappointment. In Shool, Bajpayee played the role of an honest police officer who finds himself in the midst of a politician-criminal nexus of the Motihari district in Bihar. His performance was truly amazing in the movie especially the emotional ones with Raveena Tandon. In 1999 he acted in a Telegu film Prema Katha. The year 2000 began with the movies Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!! and the crime drama Ghaath both alongside Tabu. Bajpayee acted in the supernatural thriller Aks alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Raveena Tandon in the year 2001. The role earned him a Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role nomination. Next Bajpayee starred in Zubeidaa alongside Rekha and Karishma Kapoor. He played the role of a polo enthusiast Maharaja with two wives and the role was inspired by Hanwant Singh, The Maharaja of Jodhpur.
In 2002 Bajpayee played the role of a hitchhiker in the movie Road which was a road thriller. He played alongside Vivek Oberoi and Antara Mali where he turned out to be a psychopathic killer. Bajpayee received a Filmfare nomination for the best performance in the negative role for the movie Pinjar in 2003. It was a period drama set during the partition of India. It was Bajpayee’s first release of the year, directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the film was based on a Punjabi novel of the same name. He was honored with The National Film Special Jury Award for his performance in the movie.
He subsequently acted in the ensemble war film LOC: Kargil where he was portrayed in the role of Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav. The film was based on the story of the Kargil war and Bajpayee received the nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor in it. Though both the movies were commercially unsuccessful. In 2004 Bajpayee played the role of a police officer in the movie Jaago opposite Raveena Tandon and Makarand Deshpande’s Hanan and the thriller Inteqam. In the same year, he appeared in a supporting role in Yash Chopra’s romantic drama Veer-Zaara. The film was a commercial success with grossing over Rupees 940 million that is 12 million US Dollars globally and has become the highest-grossing film of the year.
Bajpayee acted in the drama Bewafaa by Dharmesh Darshan and the triller Fareb and the English language movie Return to Rajapur all in 2005. He also acted in a Telegu romance movie called Happy in 2006.
Bajpayee acted in the movie 1971 where he played the role of Major Suraj Singh. The film tells the story of six Indian imprisoned soldiers who escape from the jail of Pakistan after they were captured and imprisoned during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.
Career From 2010 Onwards
In 2010, Bajpayee was handed a role in Prakash Jha’s political thriller Raajneeti beside Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif. Bajpayee’s performance in the movie was mesmerizing and grabbed a lot of attention. The film was commercially successful, making a worldwide collection of Rupees 1.43 billion that is 8 million American Dollars respectively. He received a nomination for the Best Supporting Actor at Filmfare. Later that year he acted in two Telegu movies namely Vedam and Puli. He also acted in a comedy film called Dus Tola in 2010. In the animated film Ramayana: The Epic, he worked by providing his voice as the character of Lord Rama.
In 2011, he acted in the socio-drama Aarakshan, based on the caste-based reservations in India. The film was banned in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh though, even before its theatrical release; due to the sparking controversies in some groups of India. Bajpayee’s next work was in the triller Lanka. Bajpayee’s next prolific performance was in the two-part crime film Gangs of Wasseypur. His character was that of Sardar Khan that appeared in the first one. To prepare for the role Bajpayee lost four kilograms of weight and shaved his head. The film appeared in the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Toronto film festival, and Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Gangs of Wasseypur received major accolades and were released in India on 22 June receiving positive responses. Anupama Chopra stated his performance to be the best performance since Bhiku Mhatre in Satya. He was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. Later he acted in the historical drama Chittagong in 2012. Bajpayee played the role of Bengali Independence freedom fighter Surya Sen for which he charged no fees or money. In 2013 Bajpayee had five releases. First was Samar, Bajpayee’s Tamil debut, Neeraj Pandey’s heist thriller Special 26 where he played the role of a CBI officer. Next, he acted in Shootout at Wadala, his character was inspired by the gangster Shabir Ibrahim Kaskar. Bajpayee acted in Prakash Jha’s movie for the fourth time in Satyagraha. Bajpayee’s next venture was of providing his voice for Mahabharata, a 3D animation film where he provided the voice of Yudhishthira.
In 2014 Bajpayee played the role of an antagonist in the Tamil movie Anjaan. He continued to play negative roles in Tevar which was released on 2015. The film however received negative reviews and was a box office failure. In 2016 he played in the biographical Aligarh by Hansal Mehta where he played the role of professor Ramchandra Siras. The film was based on the story of a homosexual professor who was expelled from Aligarh Muslim University due to his sexuality.
The film got a screening at the 20th Busan International Film Festival and the 2015 Mumbai Film Festival. Bajpayee ended up winning the Best Actor award at the 10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards and a third Filmfare Best Actor award.
In 2017 Bajpayee played in the movie Naam Shabana. The movie was a spy thriller. Later in that year, Bajpayee Played a role in Ram Gopal Varma’s crime drama Sarkar 3. Bajpayee’s character was loosely based on Arvind Kejriwal.
In 2018 Bajpayee played a role in Neeraj Pandey’s crime thriller Aiyaary where he played the role of Colonel Abhay Singh. Later that year Bajpayee appeared in Ahmed Khan’s Baaghi 2 opposite Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani. Bajpayee went on performing a role in the action film Satyameva Jayate opposite John Abraham. The same year he appeared in the psychological drama Gali Guleiyan directed by Dipesh Jain where he played the role of an electrician living in Old Delhi who starts losing his grasp over reality. He won the Best Actor award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne.
In 2019 he was awarded the honor of India’s fourth-highest civilian award Padma Shri for his contribution to art. Later that year he portrayed the role of dacoit Mann Singh in Abhishek Chaubey’s action film Sonchiriya. He also appeared in the spy action-drama web series The Family Man directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. He played the role of a middle-class man who secretly works as a spy for an intelligence agency. The series and his performance received positive reviews. In 2020 Bajpayee acted in a supporting role in Shirish Kunder’s crime thriller film Mrs. Serial Killer alongside Jacqueline Fernandez. The film was released on Netflix and mostly received a negative response. His final release of the year was Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari. It was a comedy flick alongside Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh. It was the first movie to be released in the theatres post covid-19 outbreak. In the present year, 2021 he did a narration in the Discovery + documentary show Secrets of Sinauli. He also appeared in the thriller Silence… Can You Hear It?. Recently he is filming for Despatch.
A Self-Made Man
Bajpayee has come a long way since 1994 and made his own path through the film industry without the help of any godfather. His contribution to the industry is immense and diverse. His story is influential and teaches the youth how to break a path no matter what, in any industry with hard work and dedication. His development through the years has been noteworthy and truly deserving of accolades. He is a self-made man who discovered his talent through immense hard work pushing through the industry’s tough algorithms. His story of success is truly inspirational and in the coming days can be an example to the youth who are trying hard to make a mark in their career.
Top 13 Interesting Facts
During Bajpayee’s school days he used to be a shy boy.
Bajpayee was only 17 when he moved to Delhi to start his own career in the movies.
On the journey, he traveled without reservation on the train.
He came to Delhi with his friend Ravinder Chaudhary and stayed at his brother’s place for some time.
He traveled without reservation not even knowing that it was illegal.
He was told to avoid the Train Ticket Examiner thus he stayed awake all night.
He had a dream to join the NSD but got rejected thrice.
Bajpayee first heard about NSD in an interview with Naseeruddin Shah.
Bajpayee learned the semi-classical dance of West Bengal called Chau.
He donated 51 lakhs to the Bihar relief fund during floods.
Bajpayee made his debut with a one-minute role in a movie.
His debut movie was Dhrokaal.
Manoj Bajpayee is also credited as Manoj Bajpai.