Bijou Thaangjam, who originally hails from Imphal in Manipur, is an actor, lyricist, art director and chef – all rolled into one. His latest outing is the high-octane film Shivaay (released on October 28,2016) wherein he plays the role of Kancha who is a buddy of the main protagonist Shivaay played by Ajay Devgan.
Bijou has essayed different kinds of roles till date – from cook to office executive, from college freshman to tourist, from drug addict to boxer. He took plunge into Bollywood in the year 2012 with Omung Kumar’s Mary Kom which released in the year 2014. Chuckles the actor, “Right now, I am busy shooting for Penalty, a film on football, and My Japanese Niece. I am doing a cameo role in Pradeep Ingole’s Robinhood Ke Pote and am also a part of Sanjib Dey’s Three Smoking Barrels,” says the actor.
How did films happen to him?
“I was very much involved with art, films and music during my growing up years. I used to perform in local plays in Imphal. But, I never ever thought in my wild dreams that one day I would make it in Bollywood. When I was in college, I acted in a lot of plays and that drew me instantly towards the world of acting,” shares Bijou.
He has his fingers in many pie – he competed on the Star Plus reality cooking competition, Masterchef India. He was one of the Top 50 contestants of Masterchef 2011. “Masterchef India proved to be a springboard for me and soon I started getting offers for TV commercials and films,” he stated.
How did Bollywood happen?
“After Masterchef India, I did a couple of TV shows and commercials. It helped me build a lot of confidence and helped me to sharpen my skills. One fine day (he is based in Mumbai), I got a call from the makers of Mary Kom that they were looking for a guy to act in the movie and the preference was from Manipur. The rest, as they say, is history…,” the actor remarks.
It was an “overwhelming” feeling for Bijou to work with the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Omung Kumar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. “Coming from a remote corner of the country (Manipur), it was hard to believe that I was working with such big names of the film fraternity of India,” he stated.
Did he face the ‘Northeast discrimination’?
“My pronunciation and my Mongoloid features did create problems for me in the beginning. But, later, my features and my way of speaking Hindi became my biggest USP,” Bijou informs.
“Working in a film like Shivaay is a lifetime experience. It feels great to share screen space with an actor of the stature of Ajay Devgan. He is a wonderful actor and director and working with him was a great learning experience. Even after spending 25 years in the industry, Ajay Devgan feels that learning is a never-ending process and he wants to learn new things every day. He knows what he wants and he creates the perfect working ambience,” the actor from Manipur states.
Any fun moment during the shoot of Shivaay?
“Every moment of the shoot I will cherish for a lifetime. The shooting sessions in extremely cold climatic conditions in Bulgaria and Mussoorie (I had to clean shave every morning as my role demand in minus zero conditions which was a huge challenge for me) and strong urge for adrakhwali chai in the midst of shooting are something which I will remember for a lifetime,” he adds.
Bijou, who is shooting for Shubham Singh’s Penalty right now, informs, “We are almost at the wrap-up stage of the film. I am playing a brutally honest person in Penalty who speaks out against any kind of injustice. I am like this in real life too – I will raise my voice against anything wrong happening in the society and extend a helping hand to anybody who is in distress.”
The versatile actor “dreams” of working with Vishal Bhardwaj, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Radhika Apte, Tabu and Irrfan Khan. Bijou says that life is a beautiful gift and we should make the most of our life. “One should not set any limit for oneself and should have a lot of fire in the belly. One’s appetite for learning should never end. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow,” sums up Bijou.
Bijou has featured in a lot of commercials along with the big names of B-town like Shilpa Shetty, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif and Asin.