Arshad Warsi poses with fans at Mountain Echoes 2012 in Thimphu, Bhutan
The travel guide will tell you that the Bhutanese people speak Dzongkha, the national language, and English. But a taxi ride in Thimphu revealed that the local people are fluent in Hindi as well, thanks to India’s greatest export — Bollywood! Add to that Indian television.
“Aap Mithun Chakraborty ke wahan se aayein hain?” a young cabbie in a checked goh (the national dress for Bhutanese men) asked eagerly the moment he learnt we were from Calcutta. “Woh bhi aapke tarah Bangali hain?” came the next question. “I am a big fan of him ever since I saw Disco Dancer. And I just love him on DID (Dance India Dance),” added the young man as he dropped us off at Taj Tashi, but not before enquiring about the whereabouts of the “sundar” Katrina Kaif.
Later that evening, t2 got chatting with another Bolly actor who is hugely popular in Bhutan — Arshad Warsi. The Munna Bhai man was one of the speakers at the third edition of Mountain Echoes 2012, the Bhutan festival of literature, art and culture, held recently in Thimphu.
Is this your first time at Mountain Echoes? What drew you here?
Yes, it’s my first time at the festival, and in Bhutan too. I am actually interested in everything that is creative... that fascinates me… and that could be in the form of books, photography, travel, cookery, films or scripts…. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was expecting [at the lit meet]. I came here because I thought Bhutan was a beautiful place… chalo dekhne ka mauka mil raha hai… somebody wanted me to talk at the meet, I thought chalo baat kar lenge… I didn’t know more than that. But landing here, it’s given me another view of things, you know. Here there was this whole bunch of extremely talented people, who have done some great work in their lives… and yeah, it’s a great place!
What have you liked best about Bhutan till now?
I haven’t been around much yet. I am dying to see all the monasteries, which I will. What I really want to see is the Tiger’s Nest [Taktsang Palphug Monastery, located on the upper Paro valley]. I really feel that there’s a lot of possibility in this place.
Tell us about your upcoming films…
I have three movies that are going to be out around September-October. There’s Hai Rabba Main Kya Karoon, Zilla Ghaziabad and Jolly LLB. And they are from completely different genres.
Hai Rabba… is about a typical big fat Punjabi wedding, dealing with the pros and cons of weddings.
Zilla Ghaziabad is actually pretty much a true story, about the political mafia and underbelly of Ghaziabad, on how volatile and violent that place is… and I play the villain in that film, for the first time. Sanjay Dutt and Vivek Oberoi are the heroes.
Jolly LLB is about a small-time lawyer in Meerut who just wants to see his photograph in the papers, but ends up winning the biggest case in the city and taking on the biggest lawyers in the country. It’s not really a comedy, it’s a very heart-warming, realistic film, but it’s the reality that makes you laugh… the functioning of the courtroom, the way our judiciary works, how they talk… all that will make you laugh. The reality of India will make you laugh.
Everywhere you went, people were saying, ‘We love you Circuit, we want a picture with Circuit’. But you seem a little tired of your most famous screen avatar…
Ummmm, ya! Actually you know what, I’m a person who does a film and forgets about it. While filming the sequel [Lage Raho Munna Bhai], you must’ve heard that when I started shooting, mujhe koi idea nahin tha ke main kya kar raha hoon. I had to watch the film [Munna Bhai MBBS] again to recall how I had played Circuit. So, you see, I do a film and I forget about it.… I move on to the next subject. I do not carry baggage. That’s how I am… as you see me now… I chill, I relax. I work hard, finish it and then forget about it. So, when you are constantly reminded of the same thing, that bugs me. I say, move on bhaiyya, aagey jao yaar… chhor do, ho gaya, bahut saal pehle kiya tha… bhool jao, main bhool chuka usko….
So, when you did a completely different role in Ishqiya and it got appreciated, did you feel your versatility was getting noticed?
Arre yes! I can do a lot more and I can do very well, main bataa raha hoon tumko (grins)! Believe you me, in the last five years I have realised that I am a very, very talented man. Before that I thought that I was a useless guy, who was just lucky.
Why, what happened in the last five years?
Kuch nahin, akal aa gaya! Arre really, I’m telling you… sachhi bolta hoon. Initially when a film did well, I thought tukka lag gaya, logon ko pasand aa gaya. Last four years, I’ve actually started realising that nahin yaar, main sala talented aadmi hoon! I told myself, Tum toh bahut achha kaam karte ho, yaar! Alag alag role karte ho, you do them so well, and you are so convincing playing an Ajay Kumar SSP officer in Sehar or a Babban [in Ishqiya]. And they are so far apart from each other as characters. Then there’s Aditya in Dhamaal, Madhav in Golmaal….
So, if I am doing all these characters convincingly, it means I’m doing my job. And then I also realised that many a time, when there are other actors acting with me — this I have heard from the production people — they get worried... they get worried about the fact that they have to act with me. That made me realise I must be good, yaar! (Chuckles)
Do you think Circuit was Arshad Warsi’s best act? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org