Manoj Bajpai on winning the National Award

Playing the retired cop Ganpath Bhonsle, Bajpai, takes on the role of an unlikely hero, as he protects a young Bihari girl and her kid-brother from the wrath of a political henchman

Manoj Bajpai on winning the National Award

Subhash K Jha

If there is  one National award this year about which there can  be no dispute or  sniggers, it is Manoj Bajpai  for his sterling  performance  as  an upright  retired Maharashtrian havaladar who stands up to cultural bullying in his chawl when  a Bihari  migrant  girl and  her  brother  are  threatened.

Playing the retired  cop Ganpath Bhonsle Bajpai, in another sterling  performance,  takes on  the role of an unlikely hero, as he protects a young Bihari girl and her kid-brother  from the wrath  and  disdain  of  a  political henchman who want to use  the  ‘Marathi Manoos’ card to send  all migrant labourers  back to  Bihar.

Bajpai’s character  of  the gruff dying  cop who finds a reason to live  in protecting  the  violated siblings, is  a large cliché, deconstructed and rejuvenated  by Bajpai’s deeply nuanced pain-lashed  performance. This is a man who has  nothing to lose, who decides he  might as well go with a bang rather than  wither in his  shanty room with a whimper. Manoj Bajpayee anchors  the proceedings with a  portrayal that is  in many ways  the opposite of a performance. No  dramatic high points are created to  accentuate  the  performance.”

Speaking  hours after the National award  was  announced Manoj said, “I was fast asleep when  my phone  started buzzing. I had no idea that anything  has happened. This  Covid has left me weak and  sluggish. The cheering  news comes  at the right time.”

Manoj  remembers  with gratitude the hard work put in by  the entire Bhonsle team . “My director Devashish Makhija for daring to make  a film on such a  bold and  non-conventional theme, and all my wonderful co-stars  who contributed  to my performance  and to my  film. Thank God  for something  positive at time like this.”

Manoj  is thankful  for being honoured by  the National award  jury. “In the past so many of my  good performances went unrecognized. I am grateful for  being recognized in Bhonsle. It  was one of my toughest most challenging roles.”

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