New Delhi: Even as India’s colonial-era provision of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code — that criminalises homosexuality — continues to hang around like the Albatross on the LGBT community’s neck, actor Manoj Bajpayee says that today, the majority has begun to “accept homosexuals”, and it’s the “minority” that needs to change their minds.
The National Award-winning actor, who is known for his power-packed, character-driven roles, is earning accolades for portraying the late Aligarh Muslim University academician Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras in Hansal Mehta’s “Aligarh”. Siras was suspended from his job as a professor because of his sexual orientation. He was found dead in his apartment in Aligarh in 2010.
“I am treating this as the biggest truth and I am ready to believe that today homosexuals are much more accepted in society. It is just that this minority who is aggressive, violent and loud that we have to keep on making these films to change their mind, to make them think and to keep the debate going,” Manoj told IANS in a candid tete-a-tete here.
Dressed in a casual white shirt and light blue denim, Manoj’s eyes lit up while he expressed the view that society, unfortunately, tends to take this “minority” of the “majority” when it comes to rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders.
“I always believe in the thing that there is a minority in our society, which is very loud in their voices, who get this liberty from god knows where to invade into anybody’s privacy,” he asserted.
Manoj’s character in the film is a reserved mind, who loves Marathi literature, Lata Mangeshkar’s songs and whiskey.
“He also has a very deep understanding of the word love and where he is talking about uncontrollable urge, which is very natural. This is what happens to me… I am heterosexual. It happens to me when I find a girl very attractive. When you love somebody, you love somebody completely…” the actor eloquently explained what love means to both Siras and him.
“You can fall in love with anything… With a certain kind of bird or a butterfly… Love has a broader meaning,” he added.
In 1998, Manoj captivated the imagination of Indian cinemagoers as the underworld don Bhiku Matre in “Satya”. A year later, he stunned audiences as the honest police inspector Samar Pratap Singh in “Shool” and went on to do several memorable films before gaining mass acclaim as Sardar Khan in “Gangs of Wasseypur”.
Having done so much in films and theatre, the 46-year-old actor said he isn’t getting any younger. And he has shown it in his role of Siras, a sexagenarian.
“With age and experience, you only learn a lot about human beings. It is that and the craft… All of them together, along with research, which made me understand the minutest details of Siras. Understanding his soul, his state of mind, was very difficult and extremely important for me,” Manoj said.
However, he said that the techniques used by actors to get into the roles may not be understood easily by outsiders.
“The technique that we use is purely from actor to actor, but it is very difficult for an outsider to understand as to what we do, and what kind of workshop we conduct for ourselves,” he added.
Calling his role in “Aligarh” a “very challenging” task, Manoj said he had a “lot of responsibility towards the community and towards a life which was so pure and spiritual and dealing with a man who fought a very reluctant battle”.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court referred to a constitution bench the curative petition seeking a relook at its earlier verdict upholding the validity of Section 377. Manoj says he is “very hopeful” that the bench will come out with a “constructive decision”.
“Aligarh”, which also stars actor Rajkummar Rao, released on Friday.