Birthday Love: Manoj Bajpayee’s five most versatile film roles


For a long time, he had been one of the Indian Film Industry’s most under-rated actors, especially during at a time where heroes saving a damsel in distress were all the rage. However, with changes in attitudes towards the development of good storytelling only recently being realised, Manoj Bajpayee has quickly become a fan favourite when it comes to being able to be the chameleon of the industry. Always having signed films that give the viewers something more to think about, looks at five of Bajpayee’s films where he shows the most versatility and adaptable acting, as he celebrated his birthday today. 

‘Kaun?’ (1999) – Sameer A Purnavale
Having already worked with acclaimed directors as well as having a National Award under his belt, ‘Kaun?’ came to a surprise for many of Bajpayee’s viewers. At a time where they thought they had seen all he could do, the actor pulls out the creepy, unnerving Sameer A Purnavale, who harasses and enters a young woman’s house, who is terrified about a killer on the loose. Though audiences knew that Ram Gopal Varma and Bajpayee made an excellent working pair, nobody had expected the thrill they would experience when watching the actor in this role. Though he had played unlikable characters in the past, this performance was like no other, where he made the audience want to watch him even if they wanted to turn away. 

‘Swami’ (2007) – Swami
After a few struggling years, Bajpayee was given the opportunity to play a character familiar to many, but unexpected of him. Director Ganesh Acharya signed the actor for the role of Swami, a down to earth, lower-class husband who loves his wife and child dearly, and would to go the ends of the earth for their happiness. Sharing the screen with Juhi Chawla, this was a rare occasion where Bajpayee got to be the lead hero of this simple, yet endearing film. Where usually his previous characters call for their presence to be known, in this Bajpayee is the one your eyes are drawn to, even when he doesn’t make a sound. Bajpayee proved to his critics and fellow filmmakers that there is yet more to come from him. Revealing his innocent and sensitive side, Bajpayee won the hearts of his audiences and they became completely invested in the succession of his character’s life. 

‘Raajneeti’ (2010) – Veerendra Pratap
Working in an ensemble cast can always be a tough gig to get right. And with a multi-talented star cast – many critically acclaimed – can be an even bigger challenge. With so many big stars, the trailer to ‘Raajneeti’ had everyone guessing who would be their favourite, however, Prakash Jha was so clever in his directing, it was difficult to pick just one. Known to be the adaptation of ‘The Mahabharath’, Bajpayee reprised the role of Duryodhan as Veerendra Pratap. And he did not disappoint. He made it evident through his performance the sheer complexities of his character and all the grey areas that make up the reasoning of many of Pratap’s decisions. Despite hating the character, audiences are compelled to sympathise and feel compassionate for him at times, questioning their own judgment as the film goes on. 

‘Gali Guleiyan – In the Shadows’ (2017) – Khuddoos
Though Bajpayee had mainstream Bollywood at the tips of his fingers by the time this film released, his stint in the independent film genre deserves just as much acclaim. In 2017, ‘Gali Guleiyan’ received huge applause internationally as it was screened at many international film festivals. Bajpayee’s performance as Khuddoos was enlightening, gripping and confusing. But he makes it work effortlessly. Playing a completely broken man, Bajpayee completely surrenders himself to his character where he even makes the audiences forget that he’s acting. He manages to engross his audience towards his journey, where though they don’t understand what he stands for, wants him to find exactly what he is looking for. Bajpayee completely carries this film on his shoulders but doesn’t make it seem like a burden, constantly keeping his viewers on the edge of their seats as they see the film’s surroundings through Khuddoos’ eyes. 

‘Missing’ (2018) – Sushant Dubey
As Bajpayee reunited with Tabu after 18 years, there was much excitement for Mukul Abhyankar’s ‘Missing’. Though by now Bajpayee seems to have played every kind of role possible, his performance as Sushant Dubey was something else completely. His chemistry with Tabu was electrifying, however where he normally takes his audience on his character’s journey, ‘Missing’ was a film he completely left them in the dark with. As the film goes on, he makes his viewers second guess his every move. From just one look to his entire delivery, Bajpayee almost hypnotises his viewers along with the other characters into thinking exactly what he wants them to think. He plays the ultimate chameleon, adding more and more suspense to his character his the film goes on.

Going from strength to strength, Bajpayee is one actor who has proved there is in fact nothing he can’t do. He has always been known to be a part of projects that get you thinking and it’s evident he places 100 per cent of his craft in from the very beginning. There is no doubt that Bajpayee is one of the finest actors to come out of the industry who excites the audiences not quite like any other. would like to wish the actor a very happy birthday. 



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