Just when you were getting typed as a ‘funny guy’ following a string of comic capers, you switched to horror. How did Click happen?
When Sangeeth (director Sangeeth Sivan) called, I thought it was for a comedy since he had scored with Kya Kool Hain Hum and Apna Sapna Money Money. When he told me it was a horror movie I was like, “Is it a Ramsay thingy or what?”
He pointed out that with new techniques, our desi spine-chillers had become slicker. I liked the story and since as an actor I’ve never been wary of experimenting, I gave it the nod. Welcome To Sajjanpur worked, hopefully Click with click too.
What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen?
I grew up on Evil Dead, Nightmare On Elm Street, Omen and the Ramsay movies like Purana Mandir. I’d shiver through these videos, even in the company of friends.
Even today, my wife Deepti and I get DVDs of movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, wait till midnight to start, huddle under blankets with the lights dimmed and the volume up, and watch the movie through half-closed eyes.
The fear, the atmosphere and the lateness of the hour all add to the adrenalin rush. (Chuckles) It’s a good idea to take your girlfriend to a horror movie on a date. You can be sure she’s going to cling to you. I speak from experience. In our time, we were pretty conservative. This was one way of drawing close.
Did you encounter any ghosts during the shoot of Click?
None. But when I went for a narration to Sangeeth’s office, the lift stalled and the lights did an on-off dance. It happened with Chunky (Pandey) and Sada but not with the office staff. Also, there was this French-style picturesque bungalow in Mauritius where we shot some scenes and a song. Half-an-hour inside it and I couldn’t wait to get out.
Pursuing any more ghost stories?
Right now, I’m in Kashmir for Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s Mad Madder Maddest. It spans 24 hours and revolves around three brothers, played by Om Puriji, Deepak Dongrail and me.
There’s also Golmaal 3, we start shooting at the end of March and you can expect loads of fun this Diwali. Golmaal has grown into a franchise and I hope Rohit (director Rohit Shetty) keeps churning out sequels with all of us.
I was in Goa recently for Sagar Ballary’s sweet romantic comedy, Hum Tum Aur Shabana, with Tusshar (Kapoor) and Minissha (Lamba). Sagar is a slightly temperamental, roly poly guy whom I’ve nicknamed Babushka. He’s out to prove that Bheja Fry was no fluke.
What’s happening with David Dhawan’s Hook Ya Crook?
Only the climax remains to be shot. We’re waiting for the cricketers to give us dates.
So it’s back to laugh riots again?
No, there’s Vinay Shukla’s Mirch with Raima (Sen). There are four-five stories, starting from the 1920s to the present day, all linked by a common theme.
Farah Kham’s Seasons Greeting was supposed to bring Shah Rukh and you back together but the film seems to be in a limbo now.
I’m not in a position to ask Shah Rukh if we can do another film together. The ball is in his court. Farah cast me out of the blue in OSO, despite having a choice of bigger names. We’ve become good friends but as with Nagesh (Kukunoor), I don’t discuss business with her.
Being a Marathi manoos, what’s your take on the My Name Is Khan controversy?
I’m confused. On one hand we have Pakistani legends coming here as part of the cultural exchange programme. On the other hand, we are tragetting Shah Rukh for saying that Pakistani cricketers should play in the IPL.
Aren’t we a democratic country where everyone has the freedom of speech and expression?
My Punjabi, Sindhi, Marwari and Muslim friends are no different from my Maharashtrian friends. The other day, when I was on radio, a fellow Maharastrian who lives in Indore insisted on speaking to me in the language of his state. And it made me feel so good.