Life after 'Munnabhai' for Arshad Warsi
That fine, and largely ignored, actor Arshad Warsi finds himself catapulted into the limelight after the success of "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.", but somehow the roles aren't quite rolling in as they should.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
But Warsi says playing Circuit was "definitely a blessing".
Sitting next to his wonderfully happy (and pregnant) wife Maria Gorreti, he says: "I said no to almost everybody who wanted me to do a Circuit in films or live on stage. I suddenly found myself being treated with the respect that I think I deserved as an actor.
"Though I performed equally well last year in 'Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2' where I played the opposite of a gangster (a white collar guy who gets embroiled with a gangster), 'Munnabhai' did a world of good to all of us: me, Boman Irani and, of course, the director Raj Kumar Hirani."
Unfortunately, barring a few awards functions where Warsi played his wacky character Circuit to a live audience, the roles haven't started rolling in.
"And the one film that I did sign after 'Munnabhai' - 'Hulchal' - isn't what I'd call a happy experience," says a distressed Arshad.
Apparently the role in this Akshaye Khanna-Kareena Kapoor starrer and the way it was narrated to him are at odds with the way he finally got to play the character.
"All I'll say with due respects to my director Priyadarshan is that this isn't the way I'd have liked to play the role at all. It follows the loud pattern of the south Indian original. And I'm very uncomfortable doing it."
It's apparent that Arshad is going through tremendous stress while doing what would be his first eagerly awaited post-Munnabhai stint.
"I don't think those who liked me in 'Munnabhai' are going to be happy with what I've been made to do in 'Hulchal'."
Though he refuses to say anything more, Arshad's predicament is quite obvious. After 'Munnabhai' he thought a comedy with Priyan would take him further down the road of comedy. 'Hulchal' writer Neeraj Vora promised Arshad a role equal to that of Akshaye and Kareena. But, besides the lead pair, the only actor who has a substantial role in 'Hulchal' is Paresh Rawal.
This isn't what he was led to expect. But Arshad would rather talk about his role in new director Kabir Kaushik's 'Saher'.
"Like a lot of new directors Kabir is an ad maker. 'Saher' is a true story. I'm playing a real life SSP officer. I met the guy whose character I play. About 85 percent of it is fact-based. I wanted to play the villain. But the role went to Sushant Singh. It's a relief for me.
"In 'Saher' I'm so different from 'Munnabhai'. Another character I'm looking forward to playing is a drunk airport manager in journalist Samar Khan's directorial debut."
Incidentally Arshad doesn't drink on the night before he's shooting. "So I can't even drown my sorrow when I don't like what I have to do."
There's also an Indo-American film to be shot in Afghanistan. "They needed a big star along with me. I think they're talking to Salman... I got loads of offers after 'Munnabhai', I must admit it. I turned them down. I accepted 'Hulchal'. I'm being made to interpret my character so loudly my ear and head are splitting.
"I should've seen the original before accepting the Hindi remake. Their mind was set on the original. I've my own style of acting. But my voice has no weight on the sets when Akshaye, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal are around. So I've to imitate the writer Neeraj Vora and the south Indian actor in the original.
"But I'm finally working after 'Munnabhai'. I'm doing David Dhawan's comedy with Salman Khan, Sohail Khan, Katrina Kaif and Sushmita. I play the guy who flirts with Sush. David never pushes me to do bad acting. That's a blessing.
"On the second day of shooting, David Dhawan took me aside and said that he feels the same energy level in me after Govinda. That's such a compliment. I'm enjoying my new innings. I'm working like a dog. I've decided to sign some out of films being offered to me. David Dhawan advised me to do so. He feels you never know when a film would do well. And he's right."
Arshad and Maria are going to be parents next month.
"Now that's something to smile about," says Arshad happily.