Writer Amitava Kumar’s hero of Home Products is inspired by Manoj Bajpai. The actor talks to Rishi Majumder about his new role as role model
• The principal protagonist of Home Products, Neeraj Dubey, is shaped after you. Does that make you uneasy?
I’ve never hidden my life from the media. And then this is a novel, written by Amitava Kumar, who comes from the same place that I do. He didn’t speak with just me, but everyone related to me. I’ve read the book, and he’s depicted ups as well as downs — both of which were there in my life. He’s related to me and my journey — as a human being.
• Yet he’s investigated your life as a novelist — not a media person. With such research, weren’t you uncomfortable about what would be said, and how people would take it?
No. Because he went not only into my psyche, but the psyche of a whole lot of lives. Now there’s something to tell leaders around the world how difficult it is when you have an aspiration in such a cultural and social atmosphere.
• Neeraj Dubey in the book is a small town actor who makes it big. How much of him resembles you?
A lot. But there’s a lot of me in Vinod too, and in every character. Sometimes he’s changed names of the characters, in other places he’s placed a real friend’s name on a fictional character…
• Speaking of the book’s subtext, where do you think the main problems of your hometown Bettiah lie?
That the people there have lost hope because of the unwillingness of the government. I gave a nine-point list to our parliamentary representative covering areas like education, roads, electricity, cultural activity and adivasi development. All this can happen in a few years if the government is ready to help. Also I feel the industry should decentralise itself to provide NSDs, FTIIs and film cities throughout the country — so those aspiring to this line from all over the country don’t have to travel all the way to Mumbai.
• What have you done for Bettiah?
I’m starting an NGO, with friends. I’ll be a sort of brand ambassador for that. Besides that, I think the best way to complement my people is through work — to give back through my performance. As for helping strugglers — this is a world where every one has to make it on his or her own. But I have recommended a new technician or actor for each movie I’ve worked with — regardless of the state he’s from — on the basis of his ability and how much he’s put at stake to achieve his goal. I have great respect for actors — even a star would beget my respect only if he or she is an actor first.
• Who are the actor-stars who beget your respect?
This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/sqxw