Like us, the original Bad Man of Bollywood, Gulshan Grover, who has earned a reputation of playing a string of negative characters through 90s and early 2000s, was too missing the fun of portraying an out-an-out specialist villain on-screen for long time. Thanks to Tigmanshu Dhulia's BULLETT RAJA, starring Saif Ali Khan and Sonakshi Sinha in the leads, which brings Gulshan back in his elements. Despite playing copious heinous roles in the past, Gulshan's hunger for enacting a baddie on-screen never quenches. On the contrary he is ever ready to take up one. Recently we caught up with the actor par excellence GG (Gulshan Grover), as fondly addressed among his circle. Here are the excerpts:
It is re-thunder of 'Bad Man' with BULLETT RAJA
There was a time when we saw you doing similar characters but of late you are taking up myriad characters. Any specific reason doing that?
Initially, it was a conscious decision to play and create a solid brand of villainy and allow myself to be typecast, but I was never afraid or worried that I would get caught in this typecast. I knew that I am a formally trained actor with international exposure and can break the stereotype anytime. That is what I am presently doing and I am very happy that younger filmmakers are offering extremely challenging and diverse roles to me. However, I am not running away from being the baddie, therefore I am the main villain in BULLET RAJA.
This is your second film with Saif Ali Khan, first being AGENT VINOD. Though you had a guest appearance in AGENT VINOD, how is your role placed in BULLETT RAJA?
Saif called me while I was at the film festival in LA to do this special appearance in his film AGENT VINOD and I jumped on to the next flight to come and shoot for the film. I am so glad I did that because Saif and director Sriram Raghavan presented my character very stylishly. The character that I play is called Bajaj Saab (no one dares to address him without Saab). He is the most wealthy, powerful, arrogant, stylish, women loving (in very classy way).
As for BULLETT RAJA, I play the main villain, who is the reason for changing the course of the lives & harming the lives of characters played by Saif, Jimmy & Sonakshi and separating them from their loved ones.
Since you are the antagonist in BULLETT RAJA, so is it the return of original 'Bad Man' with this? Also were you missing playing the bad man over the years?
"Saif and I are always true to our characters"
It is not a return because I never went away. On the contrary, it is the reinvented version of villain - appealing, re-thunder of 'The Bad Man'. Yes I was missing it.
Will BULLETT RAJA bring back the lost charm of antiheroes on-screen?
BULLETT RAJA will bring back the significance, usefulness and deeper reach of a specialized villain on screen, but it would not be enough because Saif & Jimmy's characters also have shades of negativity.
What fascinated you take up BULLETT RAJA?
The director of the film Tigmanshu Dhulia, my role in the film, working with Saif again and with Sonakshi for the first time. It is an entertaining performance driven film.
Your experience working with trio?
Saif - I love working with Saif because he gives his 100 % to each shot and throws a challenge at the other actor. To me work is worship and I love such challenges. Saif and I are always true to our characters and having that fire as an undercurrent in the sub text and that will come across because of Saif and my chemistry.
Tigmanshu Dhulia - I am the main villain in the film but with a brilliant director like Tishu the Bad man of Bollywood has been partially reinvented and presented in more contemporary scenario . Tishu is not only a good director, writer but also a super human. Respecting his actors for their past work achievements, but getting them to do what he wants is a great quality he has.
Sonakshi Sinha - She's not only my son Sanjay's classmate from school, her parents are also very close friends. In fact, her father Shatru ji has helped me a lot in my career. It was for the first time we worked together. Her intro scene in the film is with me and it is a naughty, romantic to gain a favour, permissive in content for a Bollywood heroine because it would lead to a sexual act.
Do you ever feel saturated playing a baddie on-screen now?
Far from it, because I never have enacted a baddie's role in a similar fashion ever in my career. Different portrayal is a big USP of the 'Bad Man' Brand. Forget being saturated, I am hungry and far more ready to play more bad man roles.
Do you agree that protagonists have taken over antagonists today and has left hardly any scope for them to emerge as larger-than-life characters, as was the case earlier? The role of baddies on-screen have become more subdued as compared to the Hero.
It is true to some extent but it is changing as well as in the case of films like BULLETT RAJA.
With protagonists taking over, is it an alarm for the antagonists getting extinct in Bollywood?
Each actor wants to play something different from what he or she has already been playing, it stimulates the actor and therefore many protagonists too are choosing to play the role of antagonists. It is to be noticed but not to be alarmed because a protagonist does not play the role of a villain as a specialized villain does.
"Villains are no more vulgar or lecherous now"
Don't you feel villains get typecast, whereas protagonist has wider spectrum to perform?
Not really, to play a villain requires acting skills, to play a protagonist requires looks, dancing ability, fighting, a bit of acting thrown in and your ability to promote the film and yourself.
According to you, how an ideal Bad Man should be?
There is no ideal Bad Man because the face of the villain is changing in society, in fact now the clarity between the villain and Hero in society is submerging. That is why a brilliant director like Tigmanshu has written my character as a villain in BULLETT RAJA that I am socially respected, wear designer clothes, affluent but not vulgar or lecherous. In fact it will be for the first time on Indian screen that a heroine of the film BULLET RAJA has agreed to be overtly friendly to further her career.
Do you ever get awed watching your own characters on-screen?
Never, Never, Never
Which is your favorite out-n-out crooked character and film in Bollywood?
I admire the baddie roles done by others, I admire, Gabbar, Mogambo, Ajit Saab, Praan Saab ... but the best baddie roles are played by me according to my fans.
Your other upcoming projects besides BULLETT RAJA?
Presently shooting for Neela Madhab Panda's new film KAUN KITNE PAANI ME. Madhab directed I AM KALAM, which was well-received nationally and internationally and I also got a lot of International Awards for my performance for the film.
- By Rachana Sheth, Glamsham Editorial