Bollywood: Manoj Bajpayee cracks a tough case in new film
The actor reveals what drew him to the role of a police officer investigating a whodunit in 'Silence... Can You Hear It?'
One of the Indian film industry’s most talented stars, who gave us memorable films like Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, Satya, Shool, Aligarh and many more, is now aiming to woo audiences with a role he’s never tried before. Manoj Bajpayee - whose versatility recently won him his third National award (for the 2019 film Bhonsle) - is taking on a whodunit with ZEE5 original film Silence… can you hear it?, from the ZEE5 Global platform, premiering on Friday, March 26.
An investigative murder mystery, Silence sees ACP Avinash Verma (Bajpayee) lead a group of specially appointed officers (including Sanjana, played by Prachi Desai), as they struggle to get to the bottom of a crime. Arjun Mathur of Made In Heaven fame portrays a young MLA who is a ‘person of interest’ for ACP Verma.
In a telephonic conversation with City Times, Manoj Bajpayee spilled the beans on his new character, who intrigued him because he was “an amazing mix of everything.”
“What drew me to the role of ACP Avinash Verma is that the character’s back story is very interesting and unique. He is a divorcee; his ex-wife is already married, living in London. He’s away from his daughter and is not getting to meet her. So he’s a lonely guy, you know, always hoping that one day his daughter will come and meet him.
“And that also gives him motivation to throw himself into anything which is given to him. He is a very impatient guy who uses his brains quite a lot but when it comes to using his power or using his combat skills, he does that very well too!”
He also related to the role because it delved into the police officer’s back story. “In a whodunit, you never concentrate on the protagonist’s back story, on his life, you only see him coming in and solving the murder. But here we come to understand the character in its entirety.”
‘It’s not a regular whodunit’
A young woman who has disappeared, the finding of a corpse, the investigation that ensues. It could easily be real life, not just a film. What were some of the things that went through his mind while portraying the character?
“Imagination is something one uses quite a lot, with experience. The experiences one has had in life of meeting people, and so many things that one has read, one has studied, one has observed, one has lived; there are ample references that one can always pull in. Anything and everything can come handy. It’s not a very regular kind of a whodunit where you see a lot of ‘bang bang’ and loud background music and all of that. It has its own appeal, it moves slowly but doesn’t leave you.”
Silence… Can You Hear It? was shot, like so many other films, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bajpayee who recently tested positive and spoke about battling the virus asserted that cast and crew following Covid precautions while shooting was a matter of great importance.
“It (shooting) requires a lot of discipline from everyone! One person doesn’t follow it and we are always at the risk of getting infected. And this is exactly what has happened. Shooting has to go on but we really have to follow the protocols and the instructions.”
‘Prachi is a lovely girl’
Bajpayee was all praise for his co-stars, Rock On! actress Prachi Desai who is making her digital debut with Silence… Can You Hear It? and International Emmy-nominated actor Arjun Mathur.
“Prachi has been a star in her own right. She’s done well commercially. But she took a break; she wanted to reinvent herself and explore something new. She was always there, mingling with people, having fun, when it was needed focusing on the character - trying to do things all over again as if she was a newcomer! She is such a lovely girl and I had a fantastic time shooting with her.”
Mathur recently commented how he took acting tips from Bajpayee during the shoot, and the latter returns the compliment, saying Mathur is an actor with a “pure intention”.
“Arjun is someone I have been observing since the time he entered the industry. He’s an actor with a great, pure intention and loads of patience and this is what is required. In my opinion, Arjun is going to stay in this industry for a very, very long time. Not only is he talented but he’s somebody who always wants to move slowly but steadily.”
Bajpayee hopes viewers have a “great time” watching Silence… Can You Hear It? “I want them to not only feel entertained but also that they were part of a world which is completely unbelievable and dangerous. If that feeling comes to them then our job is done.”
Signing off, the actor gave a shout out to his fans in the UAE. “Dubai fans never disappoint us. They are so good with all the films that I release there and they have always given me so much of love. First of all I want to say thank you to them and I would also request them to watch Silence… Can You Hear It? and let us know how they loved it!”