It would be an understatement to say that Arshad Warsi is one of the Indian Film Industry’s best actors. He’s had more comebacks than the proverbial boomerang. Well, at least, we can tag him the ‘comeback kid’. Ask any of his fans their favourite Arshad Warsi film and you’ll unanimously hear “Munnabhai” and his one sided love affair with his fans. But that’s him and his tenacity that has served him for so long in Bollywood. Come Ishqiya on January 29 and opinions might just change. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent Devansh Patel welcomes the new ‘kaajal eyed boy’ of tinsel town and chats about everything from raw cinema to raw sex, condoms to censor board, the wild Vidya Balan to the sexy Naseeruddin Shah and his soon-to-come most romantic moment: a journey from Delhi to Ladakh on his beautiful bike with his gorgeous wife Maria. What Ishqiya!
Everything is falling in place for you in Ishqiya. Is this the re-invention of the lost Circuit?
I don’t know about that. I hope so. You know what? I like to work hard on characters. So far, touchwood, it did happen like that. People have appreciated me more in Circuit’s role than in any of my other roles. Audiences have always liked whatever I’ve done but somehow they got stuck on to my one role. I hope that people like me in Ishqiya because I play quite a character in it.
Is ‘Raw film’ a new word to describe ‘Polished cinema’?
I think so. You’re right. You don’t get to see this genre pretty often. You only get to see the regular fluffy stuff and then suddenly an Indian western flick like this happens which people stand up and take notice of. I’d call Ishqiya a ‘western’.
I’d call Ishqiya a ‘western’
The kaajal looks quite sexy on you boy!
(Laughs) The kaajal wasn’t a problem to apply. But if you say I look sexy in kaajal, I’ll have to appreciate that (laughs). I think putting the bronze and mud all over my body to make me look tan also had a bit to do with my sexy image in the film. ‘Dirty’ is the new ‘Sexy’ (laughs). I hope the kaajal becomes a fashion statement in India. I mean, you’ll still find in Bhopal, men applying kaajal under their eyes. Kaajal really looks rugged and cool on a man.
We quite rarely see a beautiful face now-a-days. Vidya’s beauty is too tempting, isn’t it?
Vidya is raw in Ishqiya. She is a wild woman one dreams of. Vidya is a Lara Croft, she is a rockstar and that’s her sexuality. In the film, she looks very desirable and stunning. As an actor she has done a phenomenal work in Ishqiya. She is subtle, to the point and stuck to the character. As a person, she is the most beautiful human being I’ve come across – warm, friendly, caring and a doll. It’s very rare that you come across a girl like Vidya in today’s time.
And it’s very rare to come across an actor like Naseeruddin Shah too?
Absolutely right. He is a tycoon. I love working with great actors because it makes you work harder and better. Naseer saab does that. He comes in the frame and everybody is on their toes. You tend to succumb to his talent and energy. He has a great temperament and barely does he give a re-take. That’s good because we finish quite a lot of work in less time and are not tired. He is an emperor.
Vidya is raw in Ishqiya. She is a wild woman one dreams of
Did you see a shadow of Vishal Bhardwaj in Abhishek Chaubey’s direction?
From the first day of the shoot itself, I found Abhishek to be a very confident director. Abhishek just took over the proceedings from day one. He knows what he’s doing.
Has your wife seen the film?
No. Maria hasn’t seen the film and my kids are definitely not going to see the film. I think I’ll have to delete the kissing scene and then show it to Maria (laughs).
Don’t you feel that a lot of ‘beeps’ in the dialogues actually ruins a good scene?
I can’t blame the censor board for what they chop. They are only doing what our society and our politicians are forcing them to do. I think the censor board is far too intelligent. They just have to follow certain norms and code of conduct. We are the ones who are the hypocrites. We latch on to the culture very rigidly and fail to get our point across. It’s very naÃ¯ve, silly and regressive to be offended by the word ‘sex’. They should sell condoms openly and be open about the issue. It’s like the more you stop something, the more people do it. There was a time when gold used to be smuggled left, right and centre. But when they cut the duties and all, nobody smuggles gold any more.
Ishqiya has gone lucky with the songsâ€¦
Oh yes! They are topping the music charts. ‘Dil Toh Baccha Hai‘ is such a different track that we felt only the older generation would like it. But the whole nation is going mad over it. It was shocking. It just shows that there is no limitations to get out some quality stuff. ‘Ibn-E-Batuta‘ too rocks. It’s my favourite number from the film.
Do you think the overseas audiences are ready to accept films of such nature and genre?
They better be. But I’m sure Ishqiya will be liked by the overseas audiences. The cultural levels of NRI’s is much higher than the people in India. I’ve seen all the NRI’s who are more Indians than Indians are in India. Yes, the film is a little bold but it shows you an India that exists. Ishqiya is real and not a fantasy.
Can you recall the most loveable moment you’ve spent or are going to spend with your wife Maria?
We’ve travelled extensively throughout the world. We are travel freaks and have holidayed quite a lot. I’ll tell you something that I haven’t told anybody. My most romantic moment is going to happen in some time. I used to go for a long drive on my bike. Now that I’m too busy with my work schedule, I’ve made up for the time I’ve lost on my bike. I’m going to travel from Delhi to Ladakh on my bike with my tent and Maria. That’s so romantic. There’ll be me, the vast landscape, open roads, beautiful weather, even beautiful bike and my dearest wife. We’ll put up the tent; have coffee, chill, etc.
How much did you and Naseer saab swear on and off the sets?
(Laughs) Honestly, not even once. We never used swear words. Though, Vidya was abused a little bit (laughs). There are some words that are used so often in our daily lives that if we use them in our films, I feel, it’s absolutely fine. So some swear words here and there is fine.
Do you find Naseeruddin Shah sexy?
I think he is a hot man. He is the kind of person who is intelligent and expresses his sexuality….and women find that really endearing.