Little did actor Gulshan Grover know that playing the role of "bad man" Khiladion Ke Khiladi will give him the permanent tag of "bad man". Well, good or bad, he has played his cards well. After acting in nearly 400 Indian films in a career spanning over 30 years, Grover has made a successful transition from Bollywood to Hollywood and is a fairly recognisable face on the LA entertainment circuit. A B.Com Honours graduate from SRCC, Delhi, he dabbled a bit in theatre before moving over to films. His recent film 'I Am Kalam' earned him a nomination for National Awards of India as 'Best Supporting Actor'. And now, this entertainer, who has mastered the art of playing villainous characters complete with horrendous hair dos and menacing voice contortions, is looking forward to his upcoming film, "Agent Vinod".
1. Having played the villain and bad man in so many films, which according to you are the places which have potential of tempting human vices? Elaborate
Las Vegas is not the only but is definitely the epitome of gambling, night life, glitz and glamour, where everything in everybody is bare. Here, almost everyone is aspiring to woo lady luck, to strike an opportunity to get richer. Such places then naturally nurture criminality and add to the instinct in you to play a villain.
2. Which according to you is a place where one can feel pampered silly?
For me Los Angeles is one such place, for it offers me everything I need. As a father, my son lives there and we get to spend amazing time together. As an artist, I get the opportunity to feel the extraordinary change between Bollywood and Hollywood and see for myself as to where that industry has reached. It offers larger and newer energy, thoughts and insights into their way of looking at a project. As a tourist, the mountains, warm weather, shopping opportunities, extraordinary eateries, art and culture, entertainment and, most importantly, the opportunity to interact with my friends there, makes L.A the ideal destination for me where I am also spoilt for choice.
3. Where do you recall having a lot of fun?
I have travelled around the world and the experiences largely depend on the people you travel with. Small farms in Paris are a good get away for romance, Switzerland is excellent when you are traveling with colleagues and friends. I was in Cape Town with Akki (Akshay Kumar) who is a fitness freak who mostly shops for fitness clothing and does that in 30 seconds flat. It is always great fun to go jogging with him but shopping with him is an experience I mostly regret later because I end up buying stuff I never use. Mauritius is fun too, with its beach hotels and soothing ambience.
4. What have been some of your craziest travel experiences?
I was shooting for 'Prisoners of the Sun' at Ouarzazate in Morocco, in which I co-star with Charlie Chaplin's grand-daughter Carmen Chaplin, David Charvet, John Rhys-Davies, Emily Holmes and others. The place is famous for the shooting of 'Gladiator' and many other famous movies. Beautiful location and we stayed there for a month and by the time we were done, I was having 'daal withdrawl' since there was not a single Indian restaurant in the area.
When I arrived at the airport I was told the flight was after seven hrs. I decided to visit Casablanca and the staff refused me a visa. The die-hard fans of Shahrukh won't grant me a visa unless I promised not to beat him up again.
5. And most forgettable ones?
Experiences while transferring from one flight to another during travel is something I always like to forget. The flight delays/cancellations, communication problems, luggage issues, moving from one terminal to another is a recurring nightmare for me.
6. You are known to be a devoted father, any special memories of holidays spent with your son?
I and my son travel a lot together to London, Paris, Dubai, South Africa, and it is always full of fun. I wish he could join me where ever I go. I make it a point to call him from every destination I visit. He may not see the place the same way as I do or may not even want to visit those places, but as a father I do wish he were with me to experience my joys and thrills of seeing new places and doing all the things one does while on vacation.
7. Places you have visited and have stuck in your memory and why?
Every place leaves behind a memory in its own unique way. Warmth of the local people, appreciable characteristics of a destination and good time spent, add to good memories.
8. Most organised and tourist friendly place you have visited?
I have always found English speaking destinations that have realised the worth of revenue through tourism to be very organised and tourist friendly. Getting stuck in a place where I can't communicate is not a nightmare I would ever want to go through.
9. Places you wish to go?
I wish to travel all over the world, most of which I have already done but then there are destinations in Eastern Europe and the Far East that I look forward to exploring.
10. What are the physical and mental attributes one needs to enjoy a vacation?
I am a cautious traveller, infact I am over cautious. I familiarise myself about the new place, weather, people, communication issues and crime. I never travel without a local contact person, by that I don't mean that the person needs to be living with me during my stay at the destination but then I always have a local person who is well informed about the area and the issues there.
11. How do you plan your vacation?
I do not have the luxury nor am I at liberty to plan my holidays, I combine my vacation plans with my work. I am an artist and places related to art, culture and heritage inspire me so whenever I am travelling for a shoot I plan my flight route so that I can stop over at a place of interest and spend some time there.
12. Has being a part of Hollywood changed your travel choices and style?
Being a part of Hollywood has changed my travel choices and style in the sense that one has had to learn to be self reliant, there is no pampering there. In Bollywood, we choose to travel to 6-7 fixed destinations for a shoot which are most often managed through local representatives where as Hollywood shoots are organised through very professional companies and spread out to destinations that are yet unexplored by Indian film industry. The locations I have had the opportunity to travel to courtesy Hollywood would have been impossible to do in a typical Bollywood shoot.
13. Which is the ideal couple destination?
Smaller tourist destinations that are that safe and tourist friendly are always good destinations for couples. Crowded places do not offer the needed attention from the hotels or the other service providers.