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It?s just a fight for survival

THE QUINTESSENTIAL ?Angrezon ke zamane ka jailor? arrived in Lucknow on Saturday and put the State Government in the dock straightaway for its much-hyped film promotion policy.
None | By HT Live Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 26, 2006 12:45 AM IST

THE QUINTESSENTIAL ‘Angrezon ke zamane ka jailor’ arrived in Lucknow on Saturday and put the State Government in the dock straightaway for its much-hyped film promotion policy.

“Several producers in Bollywood are very upset with the manner in which the promises made to filmmakers during Mayawati’s regime were not honoured by the present government,” said Govardhan Kumar Asrani, veteran Bollywood comedian while talking to HT Lucknow Live.

Asrani, who was felicitated in the evening by Vipulam Foundation, an NGO in Gomtinagar, said the appointment of Jaya Bachchan had done little to improve the image of the state as a potential destination for film-makers.

Asrani, a veteran of around 100 films, also took queries on his career as a comedian. “In Bollywood even a dog at times is more popular than us. The bottomline is money and if a dog is making the moolah for the producer/director who cares whether you are an Asrani or someone else,” he said.

Forced to do the rounds of the offices of the new producers and directors after heroes and villains started taking to comic roles in which he excelled, Asrani said he realised that no one is a senior in the film industry. “I might have done around 100 films but still I have to be successful. As soon as you are down, there is no one to back you there.”

Giving an example, Asrani said the real star of the movie ‘Teri Meharbaniya’ starring Jackie Shroff and Asrani among others was actually, Brownie, the dog who played a major role in the film.

“Because the dog had earlier performed in three hit films, Brownie was extended a royal treatment, given five-star facilities, air travel etc. In fact, on occasions, the director used to tell the artistes to learn from Brownie’s one-take-Ok ability! So, you see, it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is whether you are successful,” Asrani said.

Asrani was upset at the manner in which heroes and villains also started picking up the ‘best actor in a comic role’ category awards. “Earlier, Pran Sahab had refused a similar award on the grounds that he was not a comedian.

Vjayantimala too, had a refused another award similarly. But, now everyone is doing virtually anything. The producers/directors are not complaining as long as their films are selling,” he said.

This obviously meant that specialised comic artistes were forced into a tight corner.

“Yes, I think it was Big B who started the trend with Lawaris and then an entire generation of actors like Dharmendra, Anil Kapoor, Kadar Khan, Paresh Rawal and Shakti Kapoor also started doing comic roles.”

Asrani said ever since this trend started, he had to fight for his survival. “I did odd plays, took up small roles. The good part was that the audience always remembered me. However, it used to be quite embarrassing when people used to ask why I was not coming in movies anymore. What could I tell them? The fact was that producers and directors were not taking me,” he said. But Asrani said that he didn’t give up. “You can’t get depressed anyway. You have to fight depression. Otherwise you are out.”

Fortune now has started favouring Asrani again..

“Once again I feel that I am being wanted. There are about eight films in which I am acting. Obviously, I plan to take up direction as well. Earlier, too I had directed a few low-budget movies but then that was mainly to survive,” he said.

Asrani who had earlier campaigned for Congress party said that he had no plans to take to politics. “I don’t want to travel in two boats. Those actors who took to politics are those who were not doing well in films.” Does it include Govinda too? “Yes,” said Asrani matter-of-factly.

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