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Manoj Bajpayee on Animal controversy: ‘Filmmakers should be free to express themselves’

Bajpayee attended a session at Kolkata International Film Festival on Monday

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 12.12.23, 02:09 PM
Arindam Sil (right) moderated the masterclass on acting by Manoj Bajpayee (left) at KIFF 2023.

Arindam Sil (right) moderated the masterclass on acting by Manoj Bajpayee (left) at KIFF 2023. Facebook

National Award-winning actor Manoj Bajpayee spoke in favour of creative freedom while talking about the controversies surrounding Ranbir Kapoor’s latest release Animal during a session at Kolkata International Film Festival here on Monday.

“In a thriving democracy, filmmakers should be free to express themselves, and the choice to watch a film ultimately rests with the audience,” the 54-year-old said in response to a question about his take on the Sandeep Reddy Vanga directorial and its alleged misogynistic portrayal of characters.


Animal, which took the box office by storm with a collection of over Rs 700 crore worldwide, has faced flak for allegedly creating a misogynistic and violent protagonist. Since the film’s December 1 release, social media has been abuzz with debates on the effect such kind of films may have on the viewers and society.

"I've always believed that if movies truly influenced society, our world would be a heaven by now," the Satya actor said while addressing the audience at the Ektara Manch in the Nandan-Rabindra Sadan complex in Kolkata.

In a similar vein, Bajpayee also spoke against censorship on OTT content. "OTT will be dead if there's censorship," he warned.

“Yes, people went completely rogue in the beginning with their content. The makers did not know what to do with that kind of freedom. Abuses, sex, and violence used to be shown rampantly. Now they are calming down. People are being much more responsible in their storytelling. I think if you don't censor it, people will be responsible. They are intelligent enough to be sensible,” he said.

Bajpayee, who has delivered stellar performances on OTT in projects like Bhonsle, The Family Man, and Gulmohar, highlighted the democratising effect of OTT on the film industry.

“During the pandemic, most people started watching films from Tamil Nadu, and Kerala and so many stars suddenly sprung up during the pandemic. That itself is a testimony to how OTT platforms have helped the entire film industry. Films like RRR, Pushpa and Baahubali became not only popular in South but also became popular in North India,” said the Joram actor.

“But we must remember that actors like Allu Arjun or Ram Charan are very popular in the villages and small towns in North India because of the dubbed films and satellite channels. It is because 20 years ago we stopped making films for those people. And they found their views through dubbed films,” he added.

Expressing his admiration for regional cinema, Bajpayee said, "I watch good Bengali, Malayalam, Kannada, and Tamil films that matter to me on OTT. Thanks to OTT, we are getting a chance to watch all the films we missed out on."

The actor also expressed his strong dislike for the term Bollywood. "The term 'Bollywood' is actually a copy of Hollywood. But the films made in Hindi are never a copy of Hollywood. Our industry has its independence. So, this industry can never be called 'Bollywood'," he stated.

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