A Dharavi taxi driver in his debut movie to a tough cop to one of the most loved goons of all time— he’s done it all. Right now, he’s penning two scripts and tying loose ends on the post-production of his debut home production.
A father of two, he recently turned 41 and he’s still pretty much full of fun.. at least in his films. While a busy year ahead at the box office awaits him, here’s Arshad Warsi taking a breather with Rachana Dubey.
How come are you in the city when half the city’s film frat is holidaying abroad?
Actually, there’s one half which is here. So I have to be here. (Smiles) I have three days of work pending on Ishqiya. Had it not been for work commitments, I would have travelled to the US with Maria and the kids. They’re going to be there for nearly a month with the rest of my friends and relatives.
Here, I’ll have to learn to live with a quiet house, which hasn’t been the case for many years now. Also, I was homesick staying outdoors for nine months last year. I’m happy to be home. <b2>
Your home production, Kaun Bola, is nearly done.
Yeah, it’s in the post-production stages now. Red Chillies is working on the SFX.
Do you think it will be smooth sailing in this market, which lacks buyers even for projects with top actors?
We’re not releasing Kaun Bola right now. We’re looking at an August release. Things will, I’m sure, have changed a bit by then. The economy will have become stronger and steadier. This is just a phase.
Honestly, even now, the situation isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. Often, when companies or producers don’t find a valid reason to not accept an offer, they use the slump as an alibi to get someone off their shoulders.
Has the slowdown affected your fee and you?
I hardly get paid anyway. No one pays me yaar. What will they chop from a non-existent fee? So, no one has asked me to bring down my fee.
John Abraham had said that the slump corrected a lot of people’s fees, which were unreasonably exorbitant.
Shah Rukh Khan is very reasonable in his price. He probably makes the same amount of money from four films which Aamir Khan makes from one. If Aamir did four films and still charged the same fee, then it would be exorbitant.
But it’s not that way. And I completely agree with John. He’s very sensible and learned. I always expect rational statements from him. And he’s never been a letdown.
How do you plan to recover your money in a market like this?
I will recover the money. I don’t think it’s such an issue if a movie turns out fine and is publicised well. If it’s a horrible movie, nothing can save it. We’re fairly under control with the budget too.
I believe your project has gone overboard by Rs 5 crore.
We worked with a budget in mind and have pretty much stuck to it. But yes, we did go a little overboard though it’s not as much as what you’re quoting. Everything is under control.
It’s speculated that Kaun Bola is a rehash of the Hollywood movie Ghost Town.
That’s the tragedy of my life. (Smiles) There are seven people in the world who look alike and seven million people who think alike. The film’s script is original and I wrote it over a period of time thinking about how I would like a ghost film to be. One day, a friend comes over and suggests I watch Ghost Town. To my surprise, there were similarities.
The treatment of the story is similar. My character is like Whoopie Goldberg’s in Ghost. I can see the spirits around and communicate with them. The stylisation of the movies is also quite alike. But the story is not the same.
How has the multiplex strike affected your company and you?
Badly. I am not used to a slow-paced life. Everything has moved two steps behind or has come to a grinding halt. I would have worked on a lot more projects. Ishqiya’s release date has been pushed behind since the producers want to release Kaminay first.
But courtesy the strike, plenty of your movies like Ek Se Bure Do have come out from cold storage.
Oh please, that was some blast from the past.. literally. Those movies indicate that everyone goofs up on choices in their life, makes a wrong decision in a weak moment or just accepts any project to kill his insecurities within.
Is there hope for Zamaanat then?
I have no clue about what’s happening to that movie. I wasn’t even playing the lead role in it. It had more to do with Amitabh Bachchan and Karisma Kapoor. I don’t know if the producers will ever release it.
Ishqiya has some intimate scenes between Vidya Balan and you. Weren’t you scared of Maria?
(Laughs) No, no. She understands what films are all about. And the scenes were shot quite aesthetically. I have never done bold scenes in my life.
This is my first time and I am anxious to know what everyone has to say about it. Vidya, I must say, is a thorough professional. Working with her is serious fun.
Will Munnabhai Chale Amrika be completed?
If my calculations fall into place, we will start shooting by the end of this year after Raju (Hirani) completes 3 Idiots. He needs some time to work on the script and then start filming. And maybe by the end of next year, it will be released. That will be some gap between the last Munnabhai and this one, but one can’t help it, right?
But there are rumours that Sanjay Dutt and you have gone your separate ways after you declined to campaign for his party.
I would have campaigned because Sanju is my friend. But when I was told that he wasn’t the candidate contesting, I chose not to be part of the campaign. There were other parties also which approached me, but it looks odd to promote anyone opposite Sanju. So, I declined them too.
Do you think Sanjay Dutt can make a prolific neta?
To serve people, you need a heart. And Sanju, like his dad, is all heart. So, I think if he takes it seriously, he will make a better people’s leader than anyone else.
Amar Singh’s brother had stated in the press that Amar Singh is the housebreaker and could dump Sanjay one day.
I reserve my comments on that. I live miles away from politics and it’s distant cousins.
On the personal front, despite denials from Maria and you, there’s still talk about your marriage hitting the rocks.
Now what can anyone do about that? We have been telling the world that we’re fine and together but no one is willing to accept it. It’s strange. Like a normal couple, we also have our share of tiffs. She hates it when I’m working round the clock, shooting outdoors for most of the year.
If she had done that to me, even I would be upset. So what? A marriage doesn’t hit the rocks because of these things. Little fights only bring a couple closer and inject some sanity in the relationship.
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