Manoj Bajpayee is one of the best actors this country has ever produced, and this is a fact that’s unanimously agreed upon. The Family Man’s first season showed a new side of the ever-evolving actor, and as the much anticipated new season of the Amazon Prime Video show is finally here, Bajpayee delves into details about everything we can expect, and the unexpected
What are you most excited about for the new season?
What I am excited about, is that it’s going to be much bigger in scale, and much higher on the action, intensity, and drama. As you can make out from the posters, it’s a very intense season and is not at all influenced by the first season. The new season’s script was ready, and we finished one schedule of Chennai by the time they started streaming the first one. There is no alteration or rewriting that has happened after the release of the first season. Nothing. It is a fresh story. Shrikant Tiwari, the protagonist, is in a very different situation, and in changed circumstances. He is in a much darker place than you have seen in Season 1, but his way of dealing with things and tackling things creates a lot of emotion, including humour. You also get to see how he combats.
What kind of prep did you do for the new season?
The prep was very different — you go through the whole process of reading the script, finding the character, and here, the backstory was there. I had to get fitter because I knew my directors, Raj and DK, were expecting a lot from me when it comes to action. There are so many sequences that you see and they are continuous, without any cuts. There are long shots of action, and for that, you really need to be extremely fit. I still remember after shooting for the climax, each and every member of the acting department was completely exhausted when they went to their hotels, and I was partying, while everyone was putting their feet into hot water. Some of them were injured, hurt, and getting massages done, but I was enjoying and celebrating with a bottle of wine with the other departments. And that day, I realised that I felt fitter than I have ever been in my entire career.
One of the best camaraderies of the season was of Shrikant and JK. Your equation was so interesting, will we be seeing more of it in the new season?
Yes, you will see more of it but as I said, it will be a changed circumstance. So, even though this friendship has its own dimension, it gets a little intense as well. That is the beauty of it. I also feel that if the seasons are unaffected by the last season, then you can have more fun, because you get to do something different. Otherwise, when you write the script influenced by the first one, then the fun part goes away. Even the preparation part goes away because you’re trying to replicate the last season, and that has never succeeded in the history of web series.
The Family Man is one of the best thrillers that we have on OTT. It’s also the only one who has captured the essence of everyday life and issues in the country so subtly. Will there be more of such subtle slices of life in the new season?
Yes. When we were shooting for it or doing reading or rehearsals, we were very uncompromising. I mean, hopefully, if we do another season, you should come on the sets and see how hard we work on those little things. They don’t just happen. We keep adding things, and take out unnecessary elements. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into what eventually goes on the screen. All the actors from The Family Man, are marvellous, it’s a great crew, which is a blessing, because I strongly feel your performance is made by your co-actors. Everyone is so talented and sincere. They give so much to the show that my performance is very well lifted.
OTT has brought many such path-breaking stories, and an actor as talented and established as you too, has found a new layer to explore on OTT. Do you think this is giving a new way to actors to experiment more?
I am personally very thankful to OTT and the strength that it has shown, and the contribution it has made to the entertainment world. It’s something that all of us creative people are grateful for. We salute these platforms for putting out revolutionary content. Storytellers get to tell their stories without any obstruction, and their stories can fly higher and higher. I thank OTT for really backing and supporting all fantastic film-makers, storytellers, great actors, sound designers, and cameramen to really showcase their talent so freely.
How was it reuniting with your co-actors on the sets?
It’s a riot (laughs). We all are connected to each other on a WhatsApp group, but when we see each other in person, we all just pick it up from where we left off, and the most surprising thing was when I met my on-screen children. Ashlesha, who was 14 when she started shooting for The Family Man, is now going to be 18 very soon. Vedant’s (who played my son) voice has changed, you know. He’s much taller as compared to last time. Since we are connected to each other through social media, we always pick it up from where we left off.
And what about the new actors? How was it working with Samantha?
Samantha was very intense. She’s absolutely uncompromising with her performance, and the role she has done in this season requires a certain kind of preparation, physically and emotionally, which she has taken up beautifully. She has put her heart and soul into it. She has really given her blood, literally given her blood, to do this role. I’m not allowed to say anything more about the characters, but when you watch it, you’ll realise how committed and hardworking she is.
We’ve had such a hard year because of the pandemic, and OTT has saved us, with all the films that have been released on the platforms during the pandemic. Do you think this has now created a platform for fresher storylines?
Yes. Silver screens, especially Hindi films, are usually bound by the box office and restricted and measured by box office numbers, which always has been a very sad case. OTT doesn’t judge on the number of subscriptions, or the amount of viewership. It actually supports and backs all the new, revolutionary content and the storytellers. In that case, it has just been a breath of fresh air. It’s like getting freedom and being liberated, because this platform is so democratic. If you’re good, come and show it, and if you’re not good, you will be rejected, not on the basis of subscription, not on the basis of viewership, but purely on the basis of your talent.
What are your expectations from the new season?
I’m quite curious to see the audience’s reaction. We are quite kicked about the new season with whatever we have. I’m as restless as the viewers, I’m no different (laughs).