Satyameva Jayate starring John Abraham and Manoj Bajpayee in key roles releases this Independence Day. What is the film about? Is Satyameva Jayate a patriotic film? Manoj Bajpayee answers, “If corruption-free India is a patriotic subject then yes, it is a patriotic film. Corruption is the core issue of the film. Corruption is a concern today and has been so for several years.” Talking further about the film, he adds, “It is the story of a policeman and a criminal, the story of a common man’s anger towards corruption, it’s about duty and the police department.”

When asked how much time will India take to have stricter laws especially against rape, the actor says, “For rape cases mostly in this country, justice is delayed. It seems that the system doesn’t care about the safety of women, neither does it care about the welfare of animals or children. It is a sad state of affairs and it has always been like this. We are not strict about the laws against rape, we are still not trying to come up with a policy or law which is against animal cruelty, we are still taking time in making laws against environmental pollution or against plastic. We just don’t care about ourselves, we don’t care about our women, we don’t care about animals. It’s sad.”

Manoj Bajpayee has been in this industry for 24 years now and is known for leaving an impact in whatever role he essays, no matter how big or small it is. However, box office seems to be the last thing on his priority list. He said, “You should always concentrate on the film and the characters. Don’t worry about the three days at the box office. If I ask you which film made 200 crores last year or if you would like to see it again, maybe you won’t even remember. Aligarh created a lot of news but people didn’t want to be seen watching the movie. Today, Aligarh is a classic. Gali Guleiyan has become a cult here in India even before its release because so many people have seen it in so many festivals across the world and it has got so many awards. I love this feeling! I love putting such great films, difficult films in front of the audience which may not be a mainstream or commercial film. Still, people remember it, they talk about it, they think about it. They remember me for those performances.”

The National Award-winning actor, who has done films like Aligarh, Special 26 and Aiyaary, is mainly known for his acting prowess and ability to get into the skin of the character he essays. Elaborating on how an actor differentiates between a commercial and an independent film, Manoj said, “In these (mainstream commercial) films, each and every scene is targeted at entertaining the audience. You are only making sure that the audience claps or whistles, feels sad, feels happy, feels emotional— so everything is planned that way. In an independent film, everything you do, you do it for the story and your character and nothing else. You don’t care about what people are going to say and how they will respond to it. You are only being true to the story.”

Is there someone he is eager to work with? Manoj replies, “I am always looking for new directors. Director matters a lot to me. I have worked with a lot of new directors in my career because a newcomer is always ready to take a chance and doesn’t play safe because he has nothing to lose. A talented newcomer is far better than a talented old filmmaker because he is young, he is buzzing with ideas, he wants to change the world and he is going to take risks.”

What is his aim as an actor? The 49-year-old smiled and said, “My aim is to leave behind at least 30 great films for you to be spoilt for a choice before I retire. I believe I have done only 10 such films till now, I need to do the rest.”