Why have you been keeping a low profile of late?
I've been travelling extensively because of my work. Professionally, I'm on a high. Whatever the fate of Dhokha may have been, I've been appreciated by the critics. Today I'm getting the highest fee than I've ever got in my career. I've also been doing endorsements.
Do you feel you have got your due recognition?
Honestly, every actor feels that he deserves much more. But look, I've survived for so long. Even in Hollywood I'm doing good work.
I've just been featured in a comic book called Naphilim. The main villain has my look and characterisitics.
It's believed that you're only doing brief roles in Hollywood.<b1>
I've never done a small role in any Hollywood film. I began my career there with Jungle Book 2 in which I was the main villain. I had 67 scenes and the big fight in the end. Out here, initially I had to do what I was offered to pay the bills. Also I didn't want to offend any filmmaker.
In Hollywood, I've never had to go through this because I'm financially secure.. and I have a career here to bank upon.
Can Asian actors make it big in Hollywood?
I don't think a mega-star from here is possible in Hollywood. Yes, Asians will now get more and more better roles. But American-Asians like Kal Penn and Navin Andrews get better opportunities.(Laughs) They live there, have the same kind of taste for pastas and are easier to contact. Here you have to deal with 12 people before getting to the star. Of course, Indian directors like Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta will cast Bollywood actors but the possibility of Asians making it big there is a highly remote possibility for now.
You believe that doing films with Jagmohan Mundra will get you noticed in the west? <b2>
Jagmohan Mundra is a very talented and sincere director. I'm doing Shoot At Sight with Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri for him. He has always given me good roles. Let me clarify, Hollywood is widespread, it's very difficult to get registered there. I was noticed because of Jungle Book 2; it was produced by a studio and there was the news that I may be cast as a villain in a James Bond film. After that, all the top firms offered to look after my work. I was getting free stays in five-star hotels.
You were upset with Naseeruddin Shah when he did
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Has that been sorted?
Yes, we've sorted that out. We are constantly in touch over email, I respect him tremendously and treat him like an older brother. I said this then and I'm saying it now that I was more suitable for the part in the film. I was a bad loser. In any case, an actor of his calibre was underutilised in the film.
You are known more for get-ups than your work.
These days every actor works on his look. He wants to look different in every project. Vanity be damned. Seven years ago, every gangster - rich or poor - looked the same. These days filmmakers want to be to life. I've let outlandish get-ups to others now.
Have you made any genuine friends in the industry?<b3>
Recently I was shooting with Anupam (Kher) and I told him, "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who has more dialogue or better scenes. What matters is that we can call each other up in the middle of the night." It is stupid to fight with colleagues over matters like who gets the better billing.
Once on the sets of a Deepak Shivdasani film, I'd got into a flap over certain lines of Anupam's dialogue. I drove off from the studio. I didn't want to do something I didn't agree with. Perhaps it's because of these convictions I'm here today. (Laughs) Or maybe it is because of these convictions that I've not reached the superstar status.
Chunky Pandey and you constantly make digs at each other. What's the status now?
Chunky is a friend. I'm happy that he's using his time to go to a studio and work. He's great company as long as you don't do business with him.<b4>
If he takes you for a stage show abroad, then you have to make sure that you carry your own money and credit cards. You never know when he will disappear and leave you in the lurch.
Recently, why did you walk off from the press meet of Marigold in a huff?
I'd signed a contract that my name would appear "in and as Gulshan Grover" in all the publicity material.
When I saw the catalogue at the event, I realised that it wasn't done that way. I was upset, I couldn't possibly have taken it with a smile.