Manoj Bajpayee: OTT will lose its charm if brought under censorship

With Family Man 2 deferred in the wake of Tandav controversy, Manoj Bajpayee bats for freedom of expression in digital entertainment.

Manoj Bajpayee with The Family Man 2 deferred

In his 26-year career, Manoj Bajpayee hadn’t attempted a whodunit until Silence came his way. What makes the Zee5 film all the more special is that it marks his first collaboration with a woman director.

Silence will be his next web outing

Silence will be his next web outing

“Aban Deohans and I have been friends since the early 2000s when her cinematographer husband Kiran Deohans worked with me on Aks [2001]. A year ago, when she narrated Silence to me, I wanted to do it because I had never dabbled in the genre before. It’s the first time I have received a script that lives up to all the elements of the genre,” says the actor, describing his collaboration with the writer-director as “enthralling”.

“Not only did I work with Abaan, but Kiran was also around a lot. As a husband, he decided not to go behind the camera but instead look at the production work. His presence was a great contribution on set that enhanced the film. Abaan’s daughter Tania was the Chief AD on the project. She is a talented and enterprising kid. It was set bustling with young people and I got to learn from fresh minds. I was so overwhelmed with the experience that when the film ended, I missed them and their energy so much – ambition and warmth,” he adds.

In his usual candour, he jokes that there was another reason why he loved being on the film’s set. “Kiran’s set has the best food, so I was the happiest about that.”

Meanwhile, the fate of Bajpayee’s other digital offering, The Family Man 2, hangs in the balance. The suits at Amazon Prime Video decided to defer the release of the much-loved series after the streaming giant came under fire for their January offering, Tandav. “All of us were a little disappointed with the postponement. In this situation, Amazon has taken a decision for the good of the product that we are all very proud of. We want the show to be treated well, marketed well before it starts streaming. The show will come in Summers and that starts anytime right about now. We simply have to weather through the winter. I can’t wait to start the promotions all over again. In my opinion, this season is bigger and will deliver an unforgettable experience and I am curious to see the reactions of the audience.”

In an earlier interview to mid-day, Bajpayee had expressed optimism about video-streaming platforms coming under the ambit of the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. The recent incident where the Tandav makers had to tender an apology and remove the contentious scenes is being viewed as only the beginning of a systematic clampdown against OTT platforms. Does he feel disheartened by the turn of events? “I would only pray that there is no censorship. I am morally opposed to banning and censorship in any form. As a citizen of the country, I want creative people to have the freedom to express their opinions in the manner in which they wish to. At the same time, I would hope that they do so responsibly. OTT will lose its charm if it comes under Censorship. At this point, that’s the fear looming over every creative person. I want OTT space to be liberating in its basic nature. I want filmmakers to keep flying and soaring with ideas, creating fresh experiences with each outing.”

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