Even though Bollywood pays him well, WWE Superstar Great Khali currently has no plans of leaving his contract with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Shifting to India to make an alternative career in the film industry is not on the cards right now. The Punjabi wrestler, who was in the city this week, has shot for two Hindi movies —Ramaa: The Saviour, a children’s action film, and Khusti, co-starring Rajpal Yadav. "I worked for two-three days on Ramaa when I was in Mumbai in 2008. My job is finished, the director Hadi Abrar paid me well," he says.
The 7 foot 3 inch giant, who in person, is a far cry from his fierce persona in the ring, refused to divulge how much he was actually paid. Buzz is that it was Rs 2 crore. The 37-year-old plays a God in the film who teaches the main character how to stand up for himself and fight. “I also have a hip hop fusion number with a group of kiddies,” he smiles. He also has a small role in the Brad Pitt-starrer Hollywood movie, The Tree of Life, due for release this year. “I play The Great Khali and appear in Sean Penn’s dream. He’s a nice guy, so is Brad,” he says.
In the 2005 movie, The Longest Yard, he played a convict and in Get Smart that released in 2008, he played himself again. “I don’t mind playing a bad guy, but there’s certainly no shortage of good villains in Bollywood. I like Amrish Puri,” he asserts. Inundated with Bollywood offers, Khali has to take special permission for two-three day movie shoots. “WWE comes first, that is what I do 52 weeks a year,” he points out. “I get paid more in Bollywood than in Hollywood. I have a far better future in Bollywood since this is home. But I have the WWE contract, so I can’t take all the roles.”
For Khali, who has been living in the US for the last decade, wrestling still comes first. Today, he heads for his village, Dhirana, in Himachal Pradesh. “I miss India and Indian food. Also, all my family and friends,” he sighs. “I really like going back to my village and helping the people there. I have an NGO that offers medical and monetary help to the poor. I even help arrange marriages. And I’m still employed by the Punjabi police. But they have suspended me because I kept taking time off for WWE.”
Laughing over some memories, he recalls how he was always bigger than the other children in the village. “When I was younger, I wanted to be a body builder. But then, I developed a passion for wrestling and that still ranks over Bollywood and Hollywood,” he signs off.