He's seriously funny!

He's seriously funny!

Arshad Warsi says that he puts his heart and soul into every “job” and therefore he has never got bad reviews, writes Rajiv Vijayakar

Arshad Warsi has the rare ability to extend his humour quotient to his real life as well. You can never quite predict when Arshad can refuse to take your question in the way it is meant and spin an irreverent quip as an answer, or be absolutely sober in the way he replies.

As one of the crazy protagonists of Anees Bazmee’s Pagalpanti, Arshad insists on meeting us alongside an actress from the film, even butting in on her answers and commenting on them. But that does not matter as we pose 80 percent of the questions to him anyway.

Arshad is now going the comic way again, after Total Dhamaal earlier this year, and a string of other comic roles and franchises that include Munna Bhai (as the cult Circuit) and Golmaal among others. We begin with when we will see him in different avatars — as a solo lead, as a director, and because he is a natural wit, as a writer.

“Honestly, I don’t care about doing solo films,” he says. “I have said this first in an interview 15 or 16 years ago. My priority is good films with good people. Look at (Amitabh) Bachchan-sir. Most of his films at his peak had one or more male co-stars. It is important that your character is remembered, that’s all.”

Deviating from our question, he goes on, “I am not naming anyone, but most actors are lazy at work and stick to their comfort zone. It is important to play what your director has envisioned, what the writer has conceived. Only then can there be variation. Like the comedy in Total Dhamaal, Golmaal Again and Pagalpanti is so different from each other.”

We bring in the same question differently: having acted in such diverse comic films, and with the cream of comic directors led by David Dhawan (Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya), Indra Kumar (the Dhamaal franchise), Rohit Shetty of Golmaal and now Anees Bazmee, when will he, with his inborn tendency to make light of everything in real life, turn a film writer?

“I am definitely going to turn director one day — though I do not know whether anyone will come to watch my film,” he replies with a guffaw. “But I don’t think I am good enough to write a film. I can improvise on a script, but you need a certain sensibility to cater to all audiences, a certain mindset to write such stories.”

He says that he puts his heart and soul into every “job” and therefore he has never got bad reviews. “The general idea they write is ‘He’s done so well I wish he was not a part of the film,’” he chuckles.

About the franchises he has starred in, he emphasises a very clear truth: “When people see themselves in the character, they identify with him or her. And for a series to work, it is imperative that the characters stand out and are loved. Thus, a Munna Bhai can lend itself to a series, but not a Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in which the hero and heroine, though memorable, are normal human beings.”

Virtually the only funny franchises of which he has never been a part, are the Housefull and Masti series. Of the first, he quips, “Oh, they don’t take good actors.” A guffaw follows and he says, “That is what I was saying earlier. A series has a set of characters with whom the audience falls in love. After that, it is very difficult to bring in someone else. As for Masti, I turned down Grand Masti and Great Grand Masti, but did his (director Indra Kumar’s) Dhamaal series, which has clean comedy.”

Pagalpanti, he says, is about three mad people.

“I was getting a good movie and nice company among the cast. I know how good Anees is in writing and directing.”

Paradoxically, he also calls himself the “wrong” model for an actor. “An actor should be conceited and greedy for work, but I am content and lazy as hell. It takes a lot for me to leave home for the sets. I do what makes me happy, and I do not like grim or depressing films. I think an actor’s job is to entertain, and not let roles take a toll on you. I am now doing a story so bizarre that you will not see anything like it again. It’s a film for Amazon and that’s all I can tell you right now.”


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