Having waited for nearly three hours and already gulped down two cups of caffeine and three rasgullas, I was eagerly looking forward to interviewing Munna Bhai’s ‘Circuit’, Arshad Warsi. When it was finally time to see him in person, he gave me a big, bold grin, and we settled down. I had some 20 minutes of interview time with him, and even within this limited time period, there were countless instances where he had me in splits.
As the actor gears up for his next movie Irada, Bayside Journal caught up with Arshad Warsi to know about his rapport with Naseeruddin Shah, who is his co-star in Irada, details about his next film, and the decision to cast Akshay Kumar in Jolly LLB 2.
We have heard Naseeruddin Shah likes having you around. What is your equation with him like?
I think he likes my company. The first film where Naseer sahab and I worked together was Mujhe Meri Biwi se Bachao. I went to meet him in his van. Since it was Naseeruddin Shah, I knocked on the door of his van respectfully and then went inside. Before I could say anything, he said “Bahut badhiya actor ho tum, yeh film mein kya kar rahe ho?”
Here I am thinking, this is my second movie, it will be a hit, and he says something like this! During an interview for Ishqiya I said that I respect him; I can’t call him a friend because he is a senior actor. Then I got a message from him saying, “Why can’t I be your friend?” I said “Dude you fu*ked it up, now you are scr*wed.” There is a big price to pay for you to be my friend.
You play an NIA agent in Irada. How have you approached this role in a new way?
Nothing…all cops are the same (laughs). Many people take other cops into consideration, but I don’t think one needs to do that unless it is an autobiography. I would go out of my way to play a character only if I was playing Gandhi, because you have to get his mannerisms right. As an actor, you need to develop your style and angle for the character, so that viewers can enjoy watching you. A regular cop will be boring; I don’t want to bore anyone. I thought about the guy I am playing; he isn’t the nicest guy, he is corrupt, he doesn’t believe in the system, he is only interested in getting a Prime Minister’s Official’s (PMO) job. So how will he be? Carefree.
I understand that cinema has to be dramatised, but we do it to an extent that creates a false reality. For example, when real doctors operate, they listen to music, crack jokes, and discuss drinking plans during surgeries. But in Hindi movies, we dramatise it. I try to look at the character from a realistic point of view. My character is a guy who has been an agent for so long that he really doesn’t give a sh*t about his work. He just wants to wrap up the job, get a PMO job, and chill. That’s why he asks the question “Yahaan chole kulche ache kaha milte hai?” in the film.
What was it like to work with a female director, Aparnaa Singh, in Irada?
It was the first time I was working with a female director, and I enjoyed it to the fullest. I have a high regard for women; I feel they are a far superior species than men. In my house, my woman is way smarter than me (laughs). It is a pleasure working with a lady [Aparnaa]; she is so polite and sensitive. She doesn’t shout without reason; she doesn’t do anything just for effect. She does what is required.
I have seen men who will dress up for a job; I don’t see women doing that. I am not saying all male directors do that, but it is very nice to see someone who is not abusing. In fact, in a lot of the scenes when Aparnaa said cut, I just couldn’t hear it. She is so soft.
Akshay Kumar said you showed him the path to Jolly LLB. What do you have to say about that?
Rubbish… He is just being polite. He is very good at whatever he does, and I am confident that he has done a wonderful job. Looking at him in that space, you know something big is going to happen.
Do you wish you could have played Jolly’s character in the sequel?
For me, it would have mattered if Jolly LLB was the only film in my life, but that isn’t the case. Two people, for whom doing or not doing this film would not have mattered, are Akshay and I. I really wanted director Subhash Kapoor to make a film with Akshay Kumar, because with me he gets a budget of some 15-20 crore rupees, but with Akshay, he gets a budget of 40-50 crore. He can really execute his ideas. If he wants a massive crowd in his film, he can get that. He doesn’t have to work his way around things.
Akshay and I have been around for two decades, but Subhash has just started, and he needs a hit. People are making up stories about how my heart is broken and I’m mourning – that’s never happened. Is Jolly LLB my girlfriend? (Laughs) I told them, “If you have to take Akshay, go for it. If they would have gotten an actor who was less viable than me, then I would have said, “Don’t do it, I will play the role.”
Watch the trailer of Irada here: