Manoj Bajpayee recalls when actors other than the hero were treated like ‘second-class citizens’

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a huge shift in filmmaking as it generated equal opportunities for talented artists in the Hindi film industry, actor Manoj Bajpayee said on Friday.

The National Award-winning actor, speaking at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), said the pandemic was a great equaliser.

“Anybody who was doing any role, other than the hero’s, was treated like a second-class citizen, on the set, by the audience, on the posters or at the award functions.

“That something never went down well with me, and also for that reason I never wanted to shift to Bombay. Because I realised that at the most they can give me a villain’s role but at the end it was all about heroes and celebrating heroes,” said Bajpayee.

According to the actor, things have changed drastically in the last one decade, and more so during the pandemic.

“Now we are working in a time when so many women oriented films are being made, time has changed very quickly in this last one decade So much so that the pandemic, which has been really bad for the entire world, has been great for the entertainment industry.

“It has really changed the whole dynamics of filmmaking, the main character or the secondary characters. It has really given a level-playing field to all the talent,” the actor said in a session titled “Pure Evil: The Bad Men of Bollywood”.

Bajpayee, known for his supporting roles in movies like Satya and Aks, said actor Nana Patekar through his work in movies such as as Parinda, Agni Sakshi and Angaar was a pioneer in playing character roles.

“Nana Patekar is one actor who is not praised enough. He is one talent who has given a position to all the theatre actors or the true actors in the time when commercial cinema was really ruling the box office or the industry,” he said.

The 15th edition of the JLF, which kicked off on ground at Hotel Clarks Amer on Thursday, is being held in hybrid format for the first time since its inception in 2006. It was held virtually from March 5 to 9.

Turkish bestselling novelist Elif Shafak, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist Jonathan Franzen, 2021 Booker winner Damon Galgut, Australian author and 2003 Booker winner DBC Pierre, Hollywood actor-writer Rupert Everett, and eminent Jamaican poet Kei Miller are among the 250 authors participating in the JLF this year.

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