Manoj Bajpayee wanted to say no to the show at first, Samantha Ruth Prabhu believes it 'benefitted her enormously.'

Manoj Bajpayee wanted to say no to the show at first, Samantha Ruth Prabhu believes it 'benefitted her enormously.'
Samantha Ruth Prabhu

Manoj Bajpayee, the National Award winner, said on Sunday that he didn't need any references to play Srikant Tiwari in his blockbuster Amazon series The Family Man because all he had to do was look at his own life or the people around him. Bajpayee, who has starred in films like Satya, Shool, and Gangs of Wasseypur, has grown in popularity across the country thanks to his portrayal of Srikant Tiwari, an intelligence officer attempting to manage his personal and professional lives.

The actor claimed he didn't have to base the role on someone else because he is from India's middle class, speaking at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the present International Film Festival of India (IFFI). "We are middle-class people." We are the reference, hence we don't need to (draw a) reference. I don't need to go anywhere in order to witness Srikant Tiwari. I need to search within myself for Srikant Tiwari. I have to look at my father's, brother's, or neighbor's lives, and Srikant Tiwari is present in all of them," Bajpayee, 52, added.

"They are the ones that take the trains every day at 5:00 a.m., arrive at their offices, and then return to their houses." Srikant Tiwari is the name of everyone. They are the references, and I have far too many. So living in the middle class has definitely aided me in producing Srikant Tiwari," he explained.

He was on a video call with The Family Man at the panel discussion Creating Cult Icons: India's Own James Bond (007). The panel included his co-star Samantha Ruth Prabhu from The Family Man, as well as the show's producers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK.

The series came to Bajpayee at a time when he was inundated with offers from various digital platforms, but he was hesitant to accept them since he saw the content being constrained to a "template" on the internet.

"... I was terrified because I didn't want to be a part of the template that I could see the building on the OTT platform." I wasn't sure what I wanted to be a part of, but I knew exactly what I didn't want to be a part of.

"At the time, there were a few programs that piqued people's interest and excitement, but there was also a formula that producers were following, which included blood, gore, and pistols," Bajpayee explained.

As a performer, the actor stated he was affected by numerous movie legends throughout his childhood, but it wasn't until later that he realized that his own life experiences would help him pull off a role.

"This is the story of an actor who went through workshops and training, as well as appearing in the theatre and films. But, at the end of the day, he's just looking for a way to express himself. However, it has never been a deliberate journey. Growing up, we were all inspired by the acts we saw. Amitabh Bachchan, Naseeruddin Shah, and Om Puri were my favorites. Later on, it was Robert De Niro and then Al Pacino.

"But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to your own experience, and how well your experiences and interpretation of life can help you adopt a character, no matter how many performers inspire you or how many plays you do."

When he acts on screen, he says he always presents a piece of his personal life to the audience. "I believe the character I'm portraying must represent the vast majority of people who are going through comparable things." So whether it's Srikant Tiwari, Shool's Samar Pratap, Satya's Bhiku Mahatre, or Gangs of Wasseypur's Sardar Khan, they all have to look like the people they're from. "However, I never attempt to make them larger than life."

Samantha Ruth Prabhu, who played Raji, a brutal Sri Lankan Tamil independence fighter in The Family Man's second season, said the job allowed her to play a multi-dimensional character.

"As an actor, I'm always looking to push my limits and experience new emotions." Women performers are prone to playing one-dimensional characters, which makes portraying them challenging because you don't want your performance to become monotonous. It was so unusual and fascinating with Raji because it allowed me to explore a new level," she continued.

The 34-year-old performer, whose Telugu and Tamil credits include Eega, Mahanati, Mersal, and Super Deluxe, said she chose the part because she wanted to evolve as an actor.