Acclaimed actor Manoj Bajpayee advocates for more rooted stories and emphasises that the common man should be at the centre of narratives. During a panel discussion at the ZEE5 Global launch of Add-ons in the US, Manoj, along with others, discussed how to encourage filmmakers to create more grounded content. Manoj shared, “When I was working with Mahesh Bhatt, I also assisted him. I played a role in Tamanna, and we used to spend a lot of time together. At that time, I told him that our cinema is moving away because our heroes do not resemble the audience." Silence 2: Manoj Bajpayee To Return As ACP Avinash, Says 'I Always Seek To Explore Diverse Characters'.

"This is a danger, and Mahesh sahab would give his perspective. I always disagreed with him on that point, but then I started being proven wrong because it distanced itself from the audience and their lives. As the films became bigger and more successful, filmmakers known for creating rooted cinema became astonished, and foreign shoots increased."

Manoj recalled being offered a role in New York and had to decline, stating, "I am not going to look like any of them, so don't give it to me." It was a desperate move I could see. That was an aspirational time, and it was clear that most of the population aspired to be something else." "People say it was a pandemic. They saw this change, no. For a decade, someone non-filmy told me this after RRR and Pushpa; they are celebrating Allu Arjun and NTR. It’s just the rest of India realised it with RRR and Pushpa. It’s only because they could see their own heroes on that screen."

"So, this is a lesson. It’s not that we should start copying their stories or how they make it. We should stick to our storytelling, but our hero should come from the audience, from our milieu, as it was with Amitabh Bachchan." Manoj believes that "things will change if we start telling people's stories and get our hero from the masses." Manoj Bajpayee Speaks on Harassment and Exploitation of Women and Children: ‘People Have To Think About What Is To Be Done for Safety’ (Watch Videos).

He then gave an example of Gadar and Gadar 2, stating the film’s success is because "it is talking about people. The core of it was they wanted to see their story and hero." "Making realistic cinemas where the common man is at the centre is essential."

Anupama Chopra, heading the panel discussion, shared an anecdote. She mentioned that actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui once said that people keep calling him unconventional, but he looks like 80 percent of the people in the country. Manoj agreed, saying, "Nawaz is so right; most people in our country look like me and Nawaz. There was a time when people wanted to be someone else. They wanted to see their heroes as Greek gods, and as I said before, it was an aspirational time, but now it is a realistic time."

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 03, 2023 12:26 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website