Manoj Bajpayee says he was never jealous of Irrfan Khan although the two competed for the same kind of roles back in early 2000s. The latter died in April 2020 after a long battle with neuroendocrine cancer. (Also Read: Manoj Bajpayee was asked if he got ‘Shah Rukh Khan-Salman Khan type fees for The Family Man’; this is how he responded)
Manoj said that he didn’t know Irrfan personally, and that their approach to the craft was ‘completely different’. Manoj added that he should’ve been more jealous of Shah Rukh Khan since he knows him from their Delhi days, and has followed his journey closely ever since.
Was Manoj jealous of Irrfan?
“Jealousy agar honi hai toh ussey hogi jisko main janta hu. Irrfan ko main nahi janta tha (If I had to be jealous, I’d be so of someone whom I know. I didn’t know Irrfan that well). We were in different circles,” Manoj Bajpayee said in an interview on YouTube channel Unfiltered with Samdish.
Manoj added that it’s a valid question. When asked if they’re the Naseeruddin Shah-Om Puri of this generation, Manoj responded that the two veteran actors used to constantly praise each other’s work despite being rivals in the 1970-80s parallel movement of Hindi cinema.
Manoj on Irrfan’s Maqbool
When asked about Naseeruddin Shah claiming he was envious of Om Puri’s work in Govind Nihalani’s cult cop drama Ardh Satya (1983), Manoj confessed that even he wanted the titular character Irrfan played in Vishal Bhardwaj’s cult gangster film Maqbool (2003).
“Initially, Kay Kay Menon was supposed to play Maqbool. He’d even grown his hair for the part. But the film got stalled and when it was about to go on floors again, Kay Kay got busy. So I called Vishal around 21 times to cast me instead, but he was reluctant since I’d already played a gangster Bhiku Matre in Satya (1998),” Manoj said in the same interview.
Manoj said him and Irrfan always had mutual respect for each other. He’s only learnt from contemporaries like him, Kay Kay and Vijay Raaz among others.
Manoj on getting his due
Manoj agreed that he got credibility only after Anurag Kashyap’s cult gangster film Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) and Raj & DK’s Prime Video India spy thriller series The Family Man (2019). However, he also revealed that Indian actors like him are treated as ‘cheap labour’ even by streaming platforms and that he doesn’t get the money that he should for a hit international show like The Family Man.