Family Man Manoj Bajpayee bats for movie heroes who look like ‘the common man’

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Family Man Manoj Bajpayee bats for movie heroes who look like ‘the common man’
Source: IANS
  • ‘Son of the soil’ heroes are finding a place in the hearts of audiences of today, says actor Manoj Bajpayee.
  • Movies that tell local, rooted stories have a more universal appeal, comments film critic Anupama Chopra.
  • The face of storytelling is changing, says actor Pratik Gandhi who portrayed Harshad Mehta in the web series Scam 1992.
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The phrase ‘movie star-like good looks’ is undergoing a massive transition, according to actor Manoj Bajpayee. The heroes of today now have to look like the audience, and not like Greek gods or goddesses who descended from the heavens.

“People have realized it after the success of RRR and Pushpa. But Jr NTR and Allu Arjun have always been popular with their dubbed movies being watched in the hinterlands. I was told by a person outside the industry that heroes like them can be found anywhere in Haryana and Bihar,” Bajpayee said, speaking at a panel discussion organized by Zee5 Global.

The actor who completes 20 years in the industry this year, reminisced about times when movies were heavily aspirational, shot abroad etc. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui had also addressed this issue in the past, refusing to accept that he had ‘unconventional looks’, claiming that 80% of India looks like him.

“That’s true. Most of the country looks like Nawaz and me. I was once offered a movie character who lived in New York, I refused saying, I look nothing like them. Those were aspirational times, now it’s time for realism,” Bajpayee said.

‘Son of the soil’ heroes are finding a place in the hearts of audiences of today, as seen with the rip-roaring success of Gadar 2. “Its success is not because of Gadar 1 which came decades back. Many people in their 20s are watching it. It’s just that heroes should come from the masses and the audience. And, stories where common-man is the setting should be told,” Bajpayee said.

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‘Mood of audience is changing’

Indian cinema has been transforming with movies like Kantara and more which are more rooted and local — and are gaining success too. “The more local a movie is, the more universal it is. But mainstream cinema tends to paint in broad strokes,” commented Anupama Chopra, a popular film critic.

Most Indian movies, experts noted, are either potboilers or indulgent films which attract a niche audience which make distributors and producers develop cold feet, noted Bajpayee. He urged film makers to be less indulgent and choose middle-of-the-road cinema.

Whether it’s the impact of OTT or the complexity of GenZ preferences, the mood of the audience has changed, experts noted at the panel discussion. The audience’s mood is scattered, with strong story backed-movies and potboilers with drama and emotion finding equal amounts of success.

“If you see RRR, amidst all the larger-than-life stunts, the core of it is human emotion. Stories should empathize with the audience, create excitement with thrill and drama,” explained Bajpayee.

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Yet another fear that most filmmakers face is that the youth is getting disconnected from the large screens and there is a lot of fatigue in the world of entertainment. The younger audiences love their ‘shorts’ and more, and it takes a lot to bring them back to the big screens.

Pratik Gandhi who is best known for portraying Harshad Mehta in the web series Scam 1992 said that movies that are rooted in soil always find their audience. He quoted the success of Gujarati movie ‘Wrong Side Raju’ which later went on to win a National Award, but also raked in the moolah at the box office.

“The movie brought Gujarati youth back to the theaters, and broke all records. It also got entry into multiplexes. The face of storytelling is changing,” Gandhi added.

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