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Manoj Bajpayee, unarguably one of the finest actors to have graced the Indian celluloid, celebrates his 48th birthday today.

Born in Belwa, a small village in Narkatiaganj, Bihar, Bajpayee aspired to become an actor since childhood. He relocated to Delhi at the age of seventeen, and applied for National School of Drama, only to be rejected for four times. He continued to do theater while studying in the college. Bajpayee made his feature film debut with the one-minute role in Drohkaal (1994), and a minor role of a dacoit in Shekhar Kapur‘s Bandit Queen (1994). After few unnoticed roles, he played gangster Bhiku Mhatre in Ram Gopal Varma‘s 1998 crime drama Satya, which proved to be a breakthrough. Bajpayee received the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for the film. He then acted in films like Kaun (1999), and Shool (1999). For the latter, he won his second Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. Bajpayee further played the role of a prince with two wives in Zubeidaa (2001), a serial killer in Aks (2001) and a hitchhiker-turned-psychopath killer in Road (2002).

Bajpayee won the Special Jury National Award for Pinjar (2003). This was followed by a series of brief, unnoticed roles in films that failed to propel his career forward. He then played a greedy politician in the political thriller Raajneeti (2010), which was well received. In 2012, Bajpayee essayed the role of Sardar Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur. His next roles were of a naxalite in Chakravyuh (2012), and a CBI officer in Special 26 (2013). In 2016, he portrayed professor Ramchandra Siras, in Hansal Mehta‘s biographical drama Aligarh, for which he won his third Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.

Recently applauded for his performance in Naam Shabana, a spin-off of the 2015 action thriller, Baby, Bajpayee will next be seen in Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaari, along with Siddharth Malhotra.

Hope he continues to make as many films as possible because Hindi Films need him much more than he needs Hindi Films.