Regarded as one of the finest actors in Bollywood, Manoj Bajpayee feels sad that acting is considered as the easiest profession in India.
In the trailer of his upcoming film Aiyaary, Bajpayee, who plays an army officer, is seen in many disguises and says it may look glamorous and fun on the screen, but getting into the prosthetics is a tedious and torturous process.
"If you are doing prosthetics then it is physically very torturous. It is mentally exhausting at times, especially when you do films like Aligarh and Gali Guliyan. Only a loonie guy can afford to go through that (referring to pain) again and again. We actors are known as loonies.
"To go through somebody else's pain and feel that pain and misery for two months is not an easy thing. That is why I always say acting is the most difficult thing in the world, and sadly in our country, it is taken as the most easy thing," Bajpayee said.
When prodded further, the Gangs of Wasseypur actor says it's because in commercial cinema — which is very powerful — playing a character is not the main thing as other things are given far more importance.
".. So the independent cinema is where we get to be a part of the real stories, characters. Those kind of performances are heavy."
The film is about the relationship between a mentor and his protege and Bajpayee says throughout his life, he had great mentors, beginning theatre director Barry John, who showed faith in him even though he was rejected twice by the National School of Drama.
"When I was in Mumbai, (I was) running pillar to post for work, losing out on projects one after the other. I was dejected. Then you find (director) Mahesh Bhatt.
"Then Ram Gopal Varma gave me opportunity of lifetime in the form of Satya (1998). It feels great when people think you are unique, it works like a magic potion for the person who is looking for work."
After going through a lot of struggle, the 48-year-old actor says he understands what it means to a newcomer to have an experienced person show conviction in his work.
Aiyaary features experienced actors like Naseruddin Shah, Anupam Kher and Adil Hussain, and the Aligarh actor said Shah came fully prepared on the sets.
"... I just had to look at him (Shah), it was a masterclass for me. There is no age where you cannot learn. He is somebody who has inspired me. Actors like him, Om Puri have changed the face of the Indian cinema. Adil was doing theatre when I was also doing it, so we come from same time period." His co-star Sidharth Malhotra spoke highly about Bajpayee, revealing, how off camera the noted actor helped him understand nuances through acting workshop.
"Sidharth is a very receptive person, he wants to do good work. He is in competitive world of mainstream cinema. I don't belong to that area... I sometimes go there, do some work and come back, to stay there and compete is a difficult thing. I have a lot of admiration for him," he says.
Bajpayee points out that so women go bersek looking at the "Student of the Year" actor and that's the power he has, which actors like him lack.
"We have a fan following of a different kind, people don't go crazy looking at us. That's the kind of thing that either you are born with it or not. I don't even envy it." The Neeraj Pandey-directed film is scheduled to release on February 9 alongside Akshay Kumar's social drama "Padman".
After it was announced that Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat will arrive in theatres on January 25, the makers of Aiyaary shifted their initial release date from January 26 to February 9.
"January 26 was an apt date for us, which we had announced even before we started shooting for the film. But tables have turned and we all changed our release date.
"We chose February 9 as the new release date and now Padman is also coming on the same date so it is fine. Two (films) is still not a crowd, three (films) would have been," Bajpayee said.