Arshad Warsi gears up for production No 2 that is an action-comedy which will have him playing four roles — as writer, producer, director and actor.
Disappointed that Hum Tum Aur Ghost didn’t fare better?
I’m disappointed with the way the critics ripped the film apart. Some of the reviews were like personal attacks. The audience, in comparison, was actually quite unbiased. The film didn’t do too well commercially in Mumbai may be because of the reviews, but up North and down South, it did reasonably well. Everybody has opinions and expresses them, that’s okay. But I wish people wouldn’t influence opinions this way.
The film is supposed to be a rip-off of the Hollywood film Ghost Town…
Nonsense! The only similarity was that the Hollywood film had a ghost, so did mine. But I haven’t even seen that film but I do believe in guardian angels. I have one too who takes care of me in bad times and gives me a nudge forward in the right direction. I haven’t seen it but I can feel it around me.
So, what’s the one grouse you have against your first home production?
I wish I had directed it.
Why didn’t you?
I was okay with writing the script, producing the film and acting in it but I didn’t think I’d make a good director. So I handed my baby over to Kabir ( Kaushik ) who I thought was far more experienced as a director. It was a practical decision that I now regret.
Buzz is that you will be directing your second production?
I have to. The writer, with whom I’m collaborating on the screenplay, has very clearly told me that he will not give me the story unless I agree to direct the film. (Laughs) He has more confidence in me than I have in myself. I’ve never directed anything in my life, I’ve never even been an assistant to anyone. But I now realise that if you have vision and a good team you can do it.
Apparently, Akkad is a remake of Zanjeer?
Where did that come from? It’s rubbish! Akkad is a nice action-comedy and nothing like Zanjeer.
You think you will be better prepared as a producer this time?
I’ll definitely be more chilled out since now I know the pros and cons. I’ll know which area to concentrate on more, I’ll be better organised.
Were you conned when working on
Hum Tum Aur Ghost?
Yes, I was robbed of a lot of money. I’ll be more careful this time.
Your long absence from home also put your marriage under strain, are things better now that you are on a break?
What break? I’ve used up all my breaks and now have to pay the price. Hum Tum Aur Ghost released on March 26 and two days later I was filming Golmaal 3. The shoot will go on till June end after which I will start work on Bijoy Nambiar’s realistic, hard-hitting film that will satisfy the actor in me.This will be followed by Dhamaal. No holidays till mid-2011. But it helps that I’ve been in Mumbai lately. It’s when you’re out of the country that there’s a problem.
It is said that you’ve hiked up your price to Rs 3 crore after Ishqiya?
I’m a producer and I would only pay an actor what he deserves. I could hike my price to Rs 30 crores but if I’m not worth it, I’ll not get it. You get only as much as you bring to a project.
Was working with Vishaal Bhardwaj an eye-opener?
Not really. My eyes are always open. It’s just that one doesn’t get too many opportunities to do the kind of work one wants to. When one does, you see it and know what he is capable of. I’ve just started tweeting and Twitter has opened my eyes to a whole new world that I was unaware of. (Laughs) There are people out there who actually find me awesome. They like the rough, sexy look.
Would you believe that?
I do but there were also people who walked out of the film mid-way through because they didn’t understand much of what was being said.
(Sighs) Well, India is a multi-cultural country and when you are going with a particular dialect, some will get it, others won’t. For me it’s enough that Naseer saab (Naseeruddin Shah) has liked my work. Like with any other film, this was a job too. I did it to the best of my abilities and now have moved on.
Is that wise?
(Sighs) It isn’t. I know I should improve my PR and make friends with everyone. But it’s difficult to fake it. I’m learning that it’s not enough to be just an actor-actor. You have to hone up your business skills, appeal to women, promote your films well. You have to be Shah Rukh Khan.
Why aren’t you in Vishal’s next film, Saat Khoon Maaf?
I think he was considering me for a small part, or may be it is for some other project. No issues. Vishal doesn’t need to ask. If he wants me, he only has to say how many days he’d want, and I’ll be there.
Arshad reacts to gossip doing the rounds
‘The USP of a sequel are the characters’
Yes, I’m doing Golmaal 3 and Dhamaal 2. These are sequels I can’t say “no” to. The audience would like to see the same team again and again, so I have an obligation to be a part of these films. It feels good to be associated with two successful brand franchises. The USP of any sequel is not the story but the characters. Over the last 47 years since the series flagged off, Pink Panther is remembered not for its plots but its bungling French police detective Jacques Clouseau. Ditto for Rocky and Rambo. It’s not a trial doing them because they are really good films. I’ve just started shooting for Golmaal 3 and it’s an incredible script, funnier than both Golmaal and Golmaal Returns put together. We’re all cracking up on the sets. I will be hearing the script of Dhamaal 2 soon. I’d heard an earlier draft but Induji (director Indra Kumar) has made a lot of changes in it since. So I have no clue what the film is about but I’m sure it’ll be a riot too.
‘If Shortkut was re-edited, it would be a superhit’
Shortkut 2? Are you crazy! No way is that happening. The story ended with Shortkut—The Con Is On. There’s no way it can be taken forward.Shortkut was a really funny film. I saw four-and-a-half-hours of it while dubbing and I was in splits. Unfortunately, a lot changed on the editing table. It would have been a hit had they not messed it up. Even now, if someone were to take the entire footage and re-cut it, it would be a superhit!
‘Yes, Golmaal 3 is
Yes, Golmaal 3 is Khatta Meetha, the buzz is true. I can’t lie. It’s not a direct lift but there’s a touch of the Basu Chatterjee 1978 comedy featuring Ashok Kumar and Pearl Padamsee as the Parsi couple. Our film too is about these two people who were once in love, got married to separate people, had children with them, grew old and now, have come together again to live under the same roof with their respective broods who can’t seem to see eye-to-eye. It’ll be a lot of fun. You can expect a cracking Diwali bonanza!
‘I don’t think they’ll drop either Sanju or me from a Munnabhai sequel’
Is Munnabhai 3 happening? I have no idea. It’s Raju (director Rajkumar Hirani) and Vinod’s (producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra) decision entirely. Logically, I don’t think they would drop either Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) or me from a Munnabhai sequel. When you have four characters, a 50 per cent discount is not a problem. You can even get away with a 25 per cent cut. May be not Ajay (Devgn) but if they were to drop Tusshar (Kapoor), Sharman (Joshi) or my characters from a Golmaal sequel, chances are the film would still be a hit. It’s always better though to go with the majority of familiar faces if you have a winning combo.In the case of Munnabhai, there’s just Munna and Circuit. And I think the audience would want to see Sanju and me playing these roles again. But if Raju and Vinod were to drop me from the series at some point, I would respect and accept their decision. Would I be hurt? I shouldn’t think so. There are so many films I haven’t done, and so many that I have. It’s just a job. You do it to the best of your ability and move on.
‘I died when I saw the kiss on screen’
What was my reaction to the Ishqiya kiss when I saw it on screen for the first? I almost died! I was petrified about shooting it. And when I saw it I was like, “Oh my God, this doesn’t stop! It goes on and on and on. What am I do now? Someone, please make it stop!”
‘ Vidya and Dia continue to be my friends’
Too much has been written about my friendship with Vidya (Balan) and Dia (Mirza). When asked to comment on the rumoured link-ups my reply has always been “rubbish”. But the gossip mills still continue to buzz. It does affect you. And it can ruin a good friendship. But in this case, the ladies are very understanding and things are still perfect. They continue to be my friends. One thing I’ve learnt from both is the need to promote my films aggressively. Earlier, I used to be pretty laid-back about it, downright lazy in fact. I thought my job stopped at acting. But they have opened my eyes to the fact that I need to put as much effort into marketing my films. Vidya really went out of her way to push Ishqiya. And watching her running around, embarrassed me. Here I was, a guy, lazing around while a girl did all the hard work. It was the same with Dia during Hum Tum Aur Ghost. I had no option but to join them in the promotional activities and now I’ve realised the importance of improving my PR.
‘Maria hasn’t seen Ishqiya or Hum Tum Aur Ghost’
Too much has been written about Maria and our marriage already. She doesn’t care for it and now I’ve decided not to talk about her at all in print. Hey, she doesn’t even watch my films now. She hasn’t seen Ishqiya, I don’t think she will. She’s not comfortable about it. She hasn’t seen Hum Tum Aur Ghost either. May be she will watch that one some day. May be she won’t!
‘I’ll be a judge on Zara Nach Ke Dikhaa’
Bigg Boss was fun. I did it to figure out if I could host a show. I wasn’t sure. I have a serious problem with self-esteem, with handling crowds. I was pretty nervous to begin with but I think I carried it off pretty well. And now, I’d be agreeable to doing another season of Bigg Boss if I were approached. But I’d never enter the House as a participant. Never! In fact, I’d never appear on any reality show as a contestant. I’m much too private a person to ‘expose’ myself to the public in this way. But I will be coming on Zara Nach Ke Dikhaa as a judge. I’ve been offered just about every show on TV. This one I think was probably because I was a dancer once and can give an opinion on moves. I took it up because I think I can manage it without too much stress. I just have to be at the studio once a week, I can come from wherever I am. It’s no big deal! I’ve lost a lot of money on my film. I need to recover it in a hurry. With movies there can be no compromises, that’s my profession. If I like a script, I’ll do the film for free. I have to make money from other avenues. Ads and TV are the best way to do this. I hardly do ads because the public perception of me doesn’t match my real personality. But an occasional TV show works for me.
‘Buy an IPL team? Are you mad’
Would I buy an IPL team for my kids? Are you mad! I could never afford it. Fortunately, my kids are regular kids, not spoilt. They don’t make such demands. They are happy to play silly games with me. One such game involves asking questions that have no answers, The only response is a bout of tickling that sparks off a fit of giggles. It’s great fun, better than any T20 match!