Manoj Bajpai: On 'LOC' -
He’s an intense actor who made his mark with ‘Satya’. In fact, even today Manoj Bajpai is often addressed as Bhiku Bhai by ardent admirers who happen to chance upon their favourite star. Known to get into the skin of every character he plays, Manoj has carved a niche for himself as an actor par excellence. His last film, ‘Pinjar’ may not have cracked the box-office, but his performance has not gone unnoticed. Manoj’s next film, J P Dutta’s multi-starrer ‘LOC’ is just around the corner and this is a great time to catch up with him…
Your next film (‘LOC’) has pitted you against a whole gang of well known actors. Did you have any reservations while signing the film?
Manoj Bajpai: “No, no, I am not the kind of guy who will get insecure about any actor. I think everybody is doing their job. I am also given a job to do, and I wish to do it in such a way that the director will be happy, and he should feel that he has cast an efficient actor.”
What’s your role in ‘LOC’ ?
Manoj: “My role is of a soldier -- Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav. In real life, he is still alive in spite of being shot more that 15 times in his stomach. He fought off the enemy and even came down and managed to give valuable information to his seniors.”
We hear that the shooting of the film was a very painful process since it was shot in Ladakh?
Manoj: “Yes, the climate in Ladakh is pretty hard on you. It is a tough terrain. The oxygen level is low and the cold is too much to bear. So definitely with all these limitations, it is very difficult for the unit to survive and shoot the entire film.”
Considering that there are so many actors in the film, was there any disagreement on the sets with respect to length of roles or dialogues?
Manoj: “Everyone knew that they had a specific role to play. So there was no insecurity as such. Everybody knew what was expected of them and did justice to that role and justice to the director’s script. If you ask me why I did the role, it’s because of Mr J P Dutta. He does not make films every year. I have a high regard and respect for him as a filmmaker and I do not know when he will make another film and I am not sure whether I will be in that film or not. I wanted to experience working with J.P. And, secondly, he called me over and said, ‘Manoj, have faith in me, I will not let you down.’ That was enough for me.”
There are rumours that the film has too many anti-Pakistani dialogues. How far is this true?
Manoj: “When a war is being fought, you don’t expect soldiers to hug their enemies, you know, and to blow kisses to each other. You are fighting to save your own life, to save your own country and you want to defend yourself. And the Kargil war was fought to defend our land. It was fought to defend our own territory.”
Have you met the real soldiers who fought the war?
Manoj: “Many of them. There were so many real soldiers who were helping us in shooting the film. At that height, we could not have done anything without assistance. It would have been impossible for us. Coming down was easy, but going up… with that kind of oxygen limit, it was very difficult. We were interacting with all the soldiers there sitting on top of the hill.”
Have you met Mr Yogender Singh, the character you are playing?
Manoj: “He was not there. Unfortunately, I could not reach him, but whatever information I was given was sufficient for me. The film was not being made on one person; it was the whole incident put together. It was not essential for me to go ahead and observe closely how he is and how he looks. I was actually playing the script.”