Bijou Thangjaam, the cute guy you must’ve noticed in Mary Kom, Shivaay, and Jagga Jasoos, is an emotional, witty and free-spirited guy, who might’ve been through so much and sure in hell you wouldn’t know. His story is as interesting as the list of things he has his hands on.
Originally from Manipur, the super talented gentleman started his career through Master Chef India and went on to act in a couple of shows like TRAFFIC and Dil Dosti Dance in MTV and Channel V, among many others. In the recent movie, III Smoking Barrels, Bijou stepped out of his shoes and debuted as an art director. He has also done national and international advertisements alongside big Bollywood Stars such as Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, etc and finally found his way through Bollywood. He is currently shooting for Altbalaji’s original web series, The Test Case. But who knew this power-pact survivor had a blistered childhood?
I’m currently shooting for Altbalaji’s original web series ‘The Test Case’ … The first episode was directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and then Vinay Waikul took over. It stars fine actors like Nimrat Kaur, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev, Manit Joura and Akshay Oberoi … with Juhi Chawla in a guest appearance.
Q. Tell us about your movie III Smoking Barrels and about your most recent web series with Alt Balaji.
A. The movie III Smoking Barrels which is a film by Sanjib Dey will mark my debut as an Art Director. We’re happy that the film is going steady and has done rounds in many International Film festivals and is waiting for a commercial release. Recently, it was screened at the 66th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg, Germany. I’m currently shooting for Altbalaji’s original web series ‘The Test Case’ where I am playing Tej Bahadur Thapa, a Jawan from 3GR (Gorkha Rifles). The first episode was directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and then Vinay Waikul took over. It stars fine actors like Nimrat Kaur, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev, Manit Joura and Akshay Oberoi in lead roles along with Juhi Chawla in a guest appearance. I have few films too in post-production stage and one is still filming. Another one in pre-production and that will go on floor soon. I also have few interesting projects on TV. Those will keep me busy for at least, the next nine months.
The movie III Smoking Barrels which is a film by Sanjib Dey will mark my debut as an Art Director.
Q. How was it like working for Shivaay with Ajay Devgn?
A. Starting from the very first day of my audition, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Shivaay is a power packed action film and I enjoyed every bit of moment; from the snowy Balkan Mountains of Bulgaria to the Ginger Lemon Honey tea of Mussoorie and all the cast and the crew, especially Ajay Devgn. It was such a surreal experience to work with him. I grew up watching his films and danced in many of his songs. His performance in Zakhm is one of my all-time favorites. The opportunity of working with him was so pleasurable and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Q. What about your entry in Master Chef India and fetching a spot for ‘Arrow’ which is an American advertisement?
A. Masterchef India happened to me by chance. I was jobless, homeless and penniless in that phase of my life. But that one call turned my life 360 degrees. It was the turning point of my life. And about ‘Arrow’ maybe it’s the right thing at the right time. You get lucky when you work harder.
On my very first day of the shoot, I had a cold sweat in the chilly winter of Mussoorie. I got kicked on my bum 4-5 times from Ajay Devgn.
Q. An excellent chef, an actor, freelance stylist, lyricist and art director. You’ve struggled your way through and now that you’ve reached here, there’s no looking back. Tell us about your journey.
A. I believe every individual has a different purpose in this world and in the pathway to finding that purpose, one has to go through many stages of struggles and achievements. Everyone has a story to tell about their life’s journey. I too have a very interesting journey. Started with a victim of bullying to being able to find me in my own emotional world; moving from one city to another in the finding of my true purpose of life.
Took up many odd jobs, worked in different fields but eventually, I found what I was looking for. It was such an eventful ride. As they say “Life’s a climb but the view is great”.
Q. We’re really interested in knowing how acting was introduced to you?
A. I always loved acting in my younger days. I had performed in local theaters, plays, and others as a child actor. But never ever in my wildest dream did I think that I will pick up acting as my profession. Again in my college days, I got involved in theater and street plays. But it took me exactly 5 years to leave everything and move to Mumbai to become an actor.
filmmakers and many films from Northeast are breaking the norms and have already started creating some groundbreaking waves.
Q. Narrate an anecdote of your fondest memories related to acting?
A. Every time I’ve acted, it has had its set of crazy experiences. And every time, it’s like an upgrade from a Local library to a National library. It’s like an endless journey of learning and experience. But one where I particularly cannot forget is my first day of shoot for Shivaay. I was very nervous and at the same time very excited about working with Ajay Devgn. On my very first day of the shoot, I had a cold sweat in the chilly winter of Mussoorie. I got kicked on my bum 4-5 times from Ajay Devgn. Something to remember for the rest of my life ” Ajay Devgn kicked me on my bum 4-5 times; on my first day of the shoot for Shivaay”.
I love regional films. The number of great films produced in other languages is increasingly making Bollywood run for the money.
Q. What genre of movies or film making would you like to venture into next?
A. I would love to play a real-life person or be a part of any biopic. I have always been fascinated by offbeat roles like that of a psychopath or some kind of bipolar or schizophrenic character.
Q. Everything that you have taken up in terms of career choices is in the lack of words, ”unconventional”? How have you developed such choices, or is it really a strive to be unique?
A. It’s not a choice nor a strive to be unique, but it’s just being me. This is me, this makes me happy and content. I just want to be me, myself!
Q. What according to you is happening in the regional film industry in the northeast? Do you see any kind of growth?
A. I love regional films. The number of great films produced in other languages is increasingly making Bollywood run for the money. Many big production houses are also getting into producing regional films.
Also, filmmakers and many films from Northeast are breaking the norms and have already started creating some groundbreaking waves.
Yes, you can see the growth in terms of qualities, concepts and the style of the films from Northeast.
Q. The journey from shy and timid to a fighter, a bullied child to the one of a survivor? Tell us about it.
A. I lost my childhood to the darker side of our humanity. My childhood wasn’t that good after all. I faced many hurdles and challenges emotionally and mentally. I was a victim of bullying, which affected my personality, I was bullied because of my meek nature. My mother has been my constant supporter and her wisdom was the only light in my darkness. She taught me to focus on what I want and where I want to reach, and absolutely nothing could stop me unless I let them. I had enormous power, strength, and courage within me which were boiling up to break free, like a molten lava boiling to erupt anytime. I have come a long way, from challenging myself to face my fear and stand against the bullying; to challenging myself to find a place in the showbiz industry. It took 25 years of my life, but better late than never.
Q. Lastly, Your battles with life and those remarkable drives and positivism that you possess. Applaudable! Who inspires you?
A. Undoubtedly, late Grandfather. He left quite early and way before he could see any of my achievements. He told me to live my life to inspire others. Even the stranger in the busiest street should walk up to me and say, ”Bijou because of you, I never quit”. My very aspiration as an artist is to be known for my work and inspire other people to follow their heart and dream.