Arshad Warsi started his career with Tere Mere Sapne (1996). Over the years, he has worked on several notable films. As he completes 20 years in Bollywood in December, he talks about his journey so far, being considered a comedian, and more.
You will complete two decades in Bollywood later this year. How do you feel when you look back at your career?
If you are hinting at any possible regrets, then no, there are none. I don’t look back. I always look forward. Career-wise, I think it has been a great ride. From where I started to what I have achieved, I have no complaints. It would be horrible if I complain. You always get what you want. I always wanted a good house, a peaceful family, a farm on a lake and some horses. I have all of that — well, almost. In my heart, I think I am a cowboy (smiles).
Are you happy with your position in Bollywood?
This is the kind of life I have always wanted. I am a bit old-fashioned. For me, my values, my family and some other smaller things are far more important than material stuff. As for money, it is all about how much more do I want to earn. So, again, it all boils down to what exactly you want in life. Like, I don’t work for a few months in the summer, and I work my schedules around my kids’ school holidays. For me, my work is there to provide me with a good life, and nothing more than that.
You have done serious films such as Seher (2005) and Jolly LLB (2013), among others. Is it upsetting when you are still called a comedian?
I don’t feel anything. You cannot live your life based on other people’s judgments. If you start living for other people’s approval, you will go mad. Mujhe farak nahi padta (It doesn’t bother me). Comedy is profound, and people enjoy it. So, these movies stay with people more than serious films. That’s why many actors do serious films, but they are still best known for their comedies.
Has the film industry been fair to you, in terms of giving you credit for your performances?
The industry only gives credit to the box office and money. It doesn’t care about anyone on a personal level. I have worked with actors in films that have done very well at the box office, and I have given full credit to them and the directors [of these movies]. I’ve not been a great box-office success. Maybe, the day that happens, things will change. But as I said, look at the life I live — many envy it. I don’t think I should crib.
What’s happening to Munna Bhai 3?
I think it’s going to be made after Raju (Rajkumar Hirani; director) finishes the Sanjay Dutt biopic. The idea of the script is ready, and Raju has mentioned the film’s thought to me. I love it. I wish Munna Bhai Chale Amerika was made. It had a brilliant concept. But yes, Munna Bhai 3 will be made.
Do awards matter to you?
Awards have absolutely no value for me. In school, I was a great sportsman. Although it was a given that I would win, I would still enjoy winning those medals. I still have them. But, when I win big awards and I don’t get that satisfaction, then I know that something is wrong somewhere. So many actors have won ‘most promising newcomer’ trophies, but now they are jobless.
Before your tryst with B-Town, you didn’t have a cosy life…
Thoda sa zyaada glamourise ho gayi hai cheezien (laughs; things are a little more glamorous now, yes). Yes, I did work a lot. What happened was that my dad, being a terrible businessman, lost lots of money. So, I started from scratch. I did everything. I was a cosmetic salesman, and I was a photographer, not the glamorous one (laughs), as I used to process photographs in the lab. After that, I became a dancer. I also worked as an assistant director before becoming a choreographer. Then I went to compete in the World Dance Championship. I worked non-stop.
Aren’t you happy that even though you struggled, your kids will have an easier life?
I am happy that I went through that experience. I feel sad that my kids won’t go through that. They have everything on a platter. But I can’t even let them go through that hell, since I am working for them. I can’t force them into that just for the experience. I don’t spoil my kids, and they have their values intact. But I won’t make them suffer.
You seem to be doing multiple sequels…
I am the king of sequels. Hadh hi ho gayi hain (laughs; this is just too much). I think all of them are coming out next year. Aankhen (2002) isn’t even my franchise, but I am also doing that. Then, there’s Golmaal 4, Dhamaal 3 and Munna Bhai 3. Talks for sequel of Ishqiya (2010) are also on. I don’t know how all of them will happen next year, but I am sure they will happen.
There have been rumours about you directing Amitabh Bachchan?
I have never said I am directing Amitji. But it’s every director’s desire to work with him. So, of course, I would like to direct him. But I don’t even have a film right now, so, what will I direct? However, I have written a couple of scripts. I am looking for a big producer to put in the money (laughs).
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