He's experienced the downs and ups. He was noticed right away as the jabbering taxi driver in Tere Mere Sapne, then came the downers. And then the uppers with the Munnabhai series and the scene-stealing act as a TV cameraman in Kabul Express.
After anchoring Bigg Boss on television, three of his films will pop up this year. He's in Hyderabad for Rohit Shetty's Sunday when I catch him for an afternoon chat:
You injured yourself recently.. what happened?
I was shooting in Delhi, in a hamam at a heritage monument.. the hamam was 100 feet-deep. I was getting ready for the shot. Suddenly, I felt a brain-numbing impact on my head. I looked around and realised that a reflector had landed on the assistant director and me.
Mercifully, we escaped with minor skull injuries.. the reflector first hit the camera. But I still get headaches in the morning. I have to get a scan done as soon as possible. I was told that someone had committed suicide there.
Apparently, you refused to work with Lara Dutta in Sunday.. or is it vice versa?
No, no. That's made up by the media. She had refused to be paired with me in Anil Kapoor's next home production. Soon after, I was offered to host the IIFA awards with her.
But believe me, I was short of dates..it wasn't a tit for tat situation..I just couldn't make it. She may have a problem with me..but it doesn't bother me if Madame Lara Datta doesn't want to work with me.
<b1>It is said that your friendship with John Abraham turned sour on the sets of Goal in London.
Right, I've heard that too. Baseless rumours. I won't deny that we had heated discussions and arguments on the sets but it was never personal.
The arguments were related to our scenes together, often we wouldn't agree on a certain dialogue or the way the scene was written. But once the scene was over, we'd be normal. We may fight on screen but not offscreen.
Otherwise there are no issues. And I'm not saying this to be politically correct. Ring up John and he'll have the same version.
There was another issue in Goal with an anti-Pakistan dialogue..
Yes, there was a set of such lines which John's character had to speak against the guy I'm playing, a Pakistani. But I agree it isn't fair to hurt a nation's sentiments. The lines were deleted from the script without too much hoo-ha.
I'm glad John objected to something as juvenile as this. If I'd been in his place, I would have done the same thing.
How come there have been no releases after Kabul Express?
After Kabul Express and Bigg Boss, I took a few weeks off to read scripts. Once finalised, I began shooting for them. Right now, I'm shooting for three projects back to back, which I didn't think I'd ever do in my life.
I prefer doing one film at a time. But to be honest, I'm enjoying this hectic period, when I've no time to breathe. In the next few months, you'll see me in
Sunday. Krrazy 4
and the Munnabhai sequel will be next year.
How has life changed after
Lage Raho Munnabhai?
It's risen to another level, professionally, personally and financially. I've won awards. Today, no one looks at me as a comedian or a sidekick. I'm taken as an actor who can carry off any role, big or small.
You mean the big daddies have started approaching you?
Yes. Pretty much. Life's looking up. I'm doing Rakesh Roshan's
I've already worked with Yashraj Films. I'm a regular with Ashtavinayak Films.
Are you working in any other Vidhu Vinod Chopra film?
Only the Munnabhai sequel.. that starts early 2008. Otherwise, I'm not working on any other Vidhu Vinod Chopra movie because maybe he doesn't consider me to be a worthwhile actor.
I'm glad Raju Hirani and Sanjay Dutt have faith in me. I'll play Circuit till he directs the Munnabhai series. Otherwise, I don't think I'll be a part of any other Vidhu Vinod Chopra film.
<b3>Do you stay in touch with Sanjay Dutt?
We don't ring up each other all the time. We're both busy travelling for one thing or the other. But once in a while we do call up each other, catch up at either of our places. He's really a cool guy and gutsy too. I'll always stand by him.
Whatever happened to Zamanat with Amitabh Bachchan?
I've done my bit for the film. I can't keep wondering why it hasn't seen the light of the day. It's the producer's headache, not mine. There may be financial crunches or maybe there are no buyers. Who knows?
When do we see you in lead roles?
You tell me. The day I get that one good project, I'll be able to convince the film trade that I can deliver the goods.
Although you're an expert dancer, you're hardly moving and shaking in the movies.
I've been really unlucky on that front. In my 11-year-career, I can count the number of dances I've got on my fingers.
If at all I'm doing one, I don't insist on my own steps, I follow my choreographers. By the way I just , shot a number for Sunday last Sunday.
How are Maria and the new baby doing?
They're fine. My little daughter Zeeni looks very pretty just like her mother. Maria is kind of bored of staying at home, away from work. In a few months, she'll get back to work. She has some plans.