Nawazuddin Siddiqui says he didn’t take Manoj Bajpayee seriously when they first met: ‘He was playing a koala in a play’
Years before their paths crossed in filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui had met Manoj Bajpayee while working on a play, in which they were playing peculiar parts — that of a tree and a Koala, respectively. Nawazuddin recalled that in the play, Manoj played the lead role, while he and Vijay Raaz played trees.
In an interview with Mashable India, Nawazuddin said the play had happened much before Manoj Bajpayee broke out with the 1994 Shekhar Kapur film Bandit Queen. It was only after watching the film that Nawaz recognised how talented Manoj was.
“I had done a play with Manoj bhai. Back then, he wasn’t this famous. He was popular in the theatre circuit. I got a part in that play and learnt that the main lead was played by Manoj Bajpayee. After that he got Bandit Queen and then I got to know who is Manoj Bajpayee! Pehle toh aivenyi le rahe the hum unko (Earlier, I was taking him lightly). He was known in the theatre circuit though, and was among the top five best actors of the time,” he said.
Nawazuddin narrated a hilarious story from their time on the play, and said that The Family Man star was naughty. “Vijay Raaz and I used to stand like a tree for two and a half hours! And Manoj bhai was so naughty, he was playing a part of a Koala and a jungle was created on stage — where men would be trees. So, as the Koala, he could come and scratch himself and we would feel ticklish but couldn’t even laugh. Iss tareeke ki badmaashiya karte the,” he added.
Manoj Bajpayee will star in the ZEE5 film Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, while Nawazuddin is awaiting the release of his next feature, Jogira Sara Ra Ra, co-starring Neha Sharma.