“I wish I had conned a whole lot of producers, I’d have had a better career today”, is what Arshad Warsi humorously quotes as he sits comfortably in Anil Kapoor‘s office looking corny in his black and white chequered shorts with a black tee. I compliment him by saying, “Those moustaches (which he has kept for Vishal Bhardwaj’s film Ishqiya) are looking so good on you”. “Yeah. I was conned for that too”, comes the reply. The latest hoardings doing the rounds of Short Kut has Arshad in the same moustaches. Now we know why he says that he was conned. “When you get to a certain level doing comedy, people just start laughing even when you’re not being funny,” says Warsi, slumped back on the chair lighting his cigarette. And it’s all Arshad’s doing, of course. With his unique talent for hyperactive outbursts, he wields enthusiasm that’s so relentless, so shamelessly unhinged; just looking at him makes you crack up. But come to think of it, he ain’t that funny. He is a serious man looking seriously into his debut film Kaun Bola as a producer under his production house called ‘Shooting Stars’. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent thinks that ‘explosive’ is not the word to describe Arshad Warsi’s talent as an actor. Instead, words like ‘gigantorous,’ ‘magno-rific,’ ‘Tyrannosaurus Rexian.’ works because you have to coin new terms to describe how potent a force he is to our Indian Film Industry. Today, the actor has reasons to be cheerful. He hasn’t applied any short cuts to climb up the ladder of success and his latest film Short Kut shows exactly the opposite.
Actually, my look on the posters is from Vishal Bhardwaj’s film Ishqiya.
You’ve worked with newly set up production houses before. What are the criteria on which you decide to work for them?
It all depends on who owns or runs the production house. There are so many people who are new comers and want to make films. 99% of them do not want to make films because they love cinema but because they want to know the industry and get to know these gorgeous actresses. People like ABCL, AKFC are in the cinema, know cinema and like cinema. That is the reason I’ve too set up my own production house called ‘Shooting Stars’.
I really like the look of yours on the posters of Short Kut.
Oh, don’t say that. I look pathetic in Short Kut. Actually, my look on the posters is from Vishal Bhardwaj’s film Ishqiya. I was shooting for Ishqiya and had come for the photo shoot. So the banners are looking good. I do these stupid things and then regret by saying, ‘Why did I do this?’ I play a role of a guy who has no scope of becoming an actor and yet becomes one. He is a bad actor with a bad look and is not meant to be anywhere near the film industry. So I wanted this guy to be as grungy as possible. Badly dressed, etc.
Have you decided yourself not to break away from the comic image everyone has tagged you into?
No I don’t. The fact is that eight out of ten films that are being made are comedy. You can’t be so obscure and wait for those two films that are serious to come your way. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a sensible cinema being made, like New York.
When do we see you in a sensible one then?
I’m actually fed up doing comic roles. It’s like eating the same food everyday. Comedy is getting on my nerves now. But I keep myself growing by doing different kind of comedy. I’ve never repeated my Munnabhai character ever. Once the film is over, my role is over and my character is gone. Short Kut is a new role for me. I’ve never played a crazy, funny and a villainous guy before in any film. Vishal Bhardwaj’s Ishqiya will also have a different sense of humour. Dhamaal and Golmaal were like chalk and cheese too. I’m waiting for some sensible film to come my way now.
How would you describe your humour?
I don’t have any humour. I’m an actor who performs the role. You write a role for me and I will play it much better than how it is written. That much I can guarantee you. I cannot define anything and in today’s time we actors are slaves to the pen.
Do you think somewhere down the line the box office also relies on you; more than you rely on the box office?
I do think so. Nobody will hire me if I’ve failed a producer or if people didn’t like my work. It’s not rocket science. I’m getting something back on the table for my producers and that’s why both I and the box office are going hand in hand (laughs).
Nobody will hire me if I’ve failed a producer or if people didn’t like my work.
Anil Kapoor mentioned that Short Kut – the con is on is not a comedy film. You conning the public?
(Laughs). It is not. Anil is right. It looks like a comedy film when you see the film poster. It’s a story filled with emotions and the time I enter the scene is where the comedy starts from.
Have you been conned before?
Yes. Hulchul was the film, and my co-actor was Akshaye Khanna. That film should’ve been called – the con is on. I completely thought something else will come my way but when I reached the sets it was a different ball game all together. But because I had committed I decided to do the film.
Akshaye Khanna is termed as a man who sticks to himself. He is more of a recluse. Is that true?
Yes. He is a guy who keeps to himself. I don’t know him very well as a person because personally, I haven’t hung out with him. We haven’t spent a lot of time together. But whenever I’ve seen him, he is in his own world. Having said that, he is a damn good actor. His last film Gandhi My Father deserved an award. I remember seeing his first film Himalaya Putra and I said, “This guy can act.” He has done a very good job in Short Kut too.
When will your career reach its peak Arshad?
I don’t know man, and I don’t know if it ever will. See, there are lot more other things that require to become a super star or a star who is worshipped. You got to have a very sharp mind, got to be a good business man, you got to keep your entire personal life somewhere else and go crazy behind your profession. You need to be very hungry and greedy. I am not. I can’t do all these things. I have a simple and a straight life. I like to balance my personal and professional life. Plus, I’m very lazy too. Arshad Warsi is not aggressive. I like to chill out with my family, hang out with my kids; I’m fine if I am not working. I will buy a car if I can afford but can do without it too. I am a satisfied person.
When was the last time you’ve applied a shot cut to climb up the ladder of success?
I’ve never done it. Short cuts can only be obtained by people who’ve got the facility to short cuts. Say for example, a star kid will always have a short cut ready to enter films. A regular guy can never get a short cut. Mine was a freaky case. I was doing something else and was picked up and put into acting.
You never dream of pursuing your previous career as a choreographer?
Oh I wish! Dancing is something that requires time. I had opened a dancing school but had to shut it. Now if you open a school, you need to be able to run it. Don’t lie to the public. If I want to learn dancing, I want to see the person teaching me how to dance. I do not want to see any tom, dick and harry teach me how to shake a leg. Acting is such a profession that takes a lot of your time. The time you’re free you see yourself promoting the film or doing something else. Not many people know that I love photography too but then again, it is just a hobby. I cannot think of turning it into a profession.
You’re quite lucky for the new directors.
You’re right. Let’s put it this way. I cannot think of any well known established directors I’ve worked with. Whichever films I’ve worked on, new directors took over. Whether it was Raj Kumar Hirani, Rohit Shetty, Siddharth Anand, Kabir Khan, etc. Of course, now they are all established and have set their place in Bollywood. Neeraj Vora for that matter is one of the very few known directors I’m working with in my career. What I like about the new lot is that they bring in a new energy and a new thinking wave, new technology and new creativity. Then the already established ones stick to their age old formula and template which they follow. It is only Ram Gopal Varma who has got the b**** to take chances in film making.
Only Ram Gopal Varma who has got the b**** to take chances in film making.
How’s your rapport with Anil Kapoor?
He is a fighter. Anil Kapoor is the only man in the film industry who will come across as a new comer, from his first film to his last. He always wants to prove that he is the best, and he has always proved himself right. Anil is the best in the business.
Has your wife seen the film?
Yes. Maria has seen it and she liked it. She liked the music of Short Kut and whenever I came on screen. Other than that, I think the romantic bit in the film got dragged a little bit.