Why did Manoj Bajpayee keep his distance from little Budhia?

The national award winning actor got into the skin of his character Biranchi Das, who chose to be a mentor than a friend to Budhia

Mayur Lookhar

The reel can show a picture that far's from the reality. So, while one may marvel at the chemistry between two actors, but in reality the duo could be keeping their distance off the camera. 

It's always a difficult task to work with children. It’s often said that to get things done from children, one ought to become a child yourself. However, Manoj Bajpayee isn't among those who like to develop a friendly bond with child actors.

Bajpayee will soon be seen in Budhia Singh – Born To Run, a biographical drama on famous marathoner and child wonder Budhia Singh.

The now 14-year-old boy from remote Odisha had created a world record by becoming the youngest marathon runner. Singh was just four when he ran from Bhubaneshwar to Puri, covering 65 kilometres in seven hours and two minutes.

While Bajpayee is playing the role of Budhia's late mentor Birnchi Das, unheralded Mayur Patole is essaying the titular role.

Commenting on his experience of working with a child, Bajpayee said, "I used to teach in theatre in school and at times, I found it difficult to keep pace with the energy of the students. So, to train a five year old, and to make him go through a discipline was going to be a challenging task for me. After agreeing to the film, I'd told my director that I should not be forced to make friends with the child. However, I was always there whenever Mayur needed me. While we gelled even Mayur knew that here was a line between him and me, and he would never cross it. This is how Biranchi Das was, this is how he conducted himself."

Meanwhile, Bajpayee was left flummoxed when the director made an outrageous request.

"After agreeing to the film, director Soumendra Padhi told me that I will need to learn judo in one week. One week? I was stunned by his request. I didn't know how to react. I wonder what the director will put me through. More than the film, I was more worried how I would go through such grind, and feared an injury. Thankfully, it all went smoothly," said Bajpayee.
Late Biranchi Das was a judo coach, who had accidentally discovered the marathoner in Budhia. One day, Biranchi Das caught him being a 'saucy lad. He punished him by making him run, but then forgot about him; he returned after five hours and Budhia was still running. After medical check up his heart was found to be normal even after running for hours. He then began to train Budhia to run marathons.

Sports mentors are never meant to go easy on their students. Perhaps, Biranchi Das was a disciplinarian. Perhaps, this is why Bajpayee wanted to be more a mentor than a friend to Budhia. 

Budhia Singh – Born To Run will release on 5 August.