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I came close to ending my life once, reveals Manoj Bajpayee

The actor opened up about his life and its struggles during an interaction with the social media page, Humans Of Bombay

Our Correspondent

With a career spanning more than 25 years, Manoj Bajpayee is currently one of the most competent performers in India. But there was a time when he felt his acting dreams would never be actualised. In fact, at one point he even contemplated suicide because of constant rejection.

The actor shared this in an interaction with the social media page Humans Of Bombay, where he opened up about his life and his days as a struggler. 

Bajpayee was born in a small village in Bihar with five other siblings. His family used to watch movies whenever they went to the city side. When he was nine years old, he had decided to become an actor. But because of their financial condition, he focused on his studies. But his dream of becoming an actor refused to die.

So at 17, he enrolled in Delhi University but was actually indulging in acting unknown to his family. “There, I delved into theatre but my family had no idea. Finally, I wrote a letter to dad and told him that I wanted to be an actor. He wasn’t angry – instead he sent me 200 Rupees to cover my fees! People back home called me ‘bhaand’ and ‘good-for-nothing’ but I turned a blind eye,” he said. 

Bajpayee started learning both English and Hindi in order to develop his acting skills. Meanwhile, he applied at the National School of Drama (NSD) but was rejected thrice. “I’ve never come as close to committing suicide as I did then. My friends were scared – they would sleep next to me and not leave me alone. They encouraged me to keep going, until finally, I was accepted,” the actor said. 

As fate would have it, filmmaker and actor Tigmanshu Dhulia spotted him at a tea stall in Delhi and cast him in the role of Man Singh in Shekhar Kapur’s iconic Bandit Queen. Bajpayee started feeling he would get more offers. So he moved to Mumbai in a chawl rented by five more people. 

But the actor’s judgement turned out to be wrong. “No roles came my way. Once, an AD ripped my photo up and threw it. Another time, I lost 3 projects in a day. I was even told to take my costume off and get out after my first shot. I didn’t fit the ideal ‘hero’ face they were looking for and they were convinced I didn’t belong on the big screen. All this while, I barely had money – I struggled to make rent and there were so many days when I went hungry; even a vada pav was expensive,” he said. 

But Bajpayee somehow hung in there. His persistence paid off and he landed a small role in Mahesh Bhatt’s television serial Swabhimaan, for which he received a steady income of Rs1,500 per episode. Then he got a film that changed his life. 

“My work was noticed and I was offered my first Bollywood film, and soon, I got my big break with Satya (1998). That’s when the awards rolled in. I bought my first house and knew I was here to stay. 67 films later, here I am,” he said. 

Signing off with a message, Bajpayee said, “That’s the thing about dreams– when it comes to turning them into reality, the struggle and hardships don’t matter. What matters is the belief of that 9-year-old Bihari boy, and nothing else.”