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The Rediff Interview
/ Arshad Warsi
Ronjita Kulkarni |
April 13, 2005
Arshad Warsi is the kind of person you wish all movie stars were like. Unassuming and friendly, the actor seems a great person to hang with. And that's probably what director Samar Khan did while filming his first film, Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye, with the Munnabhai MBBS star.
The duo seemed at ease with each other, cracking jokes and poking fun at each other when this correspondent met Warsi for an interview.
The Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye contest!
"Let me first tell you that Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye has got nothing to do with The Terminal," Warsi clarifies before you can ask the first question.
The story of Kuchh Meetha unravels in an airport, when passengers, including Mahima Chaudhary, get stranded due to a delayed flight. The film releases on April 15.
Warsi spoke to Ronjita Kulkarni about Kuchh Meetha, and life after Munnabhai.
What is Kuchh Meetha about?
The story is about a bunch of passengers whose flight is delayed and they are forced to sit and talk to a person that they otherwise would not want to. For example, a husband and wife having problems. They could have solved their problems by discussing them but never did it. Now, they are stuck with each other in a situation, and just start talking.
There are five different stories.
I play an airport manager. I wasn't able to tell my girl (Mahima) how much I love her. Circumstances prevented me from doing so. She gets married to someone else, and settles down in London. So I live in pain and drown my sorrows in alcohol. The main reason I work in an airport is that she comes to India once a year to meet her in-laws, and I hope to see her then.
This is the time when she comes, and the flight is delayed so I manage to tell her what I feel.
I'm connected to everyone in the film because I'm not a passenger, so their being there is my responsibility.
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There were rumours that you would come drunk on the sets to stay in character.
That's not true. That's just Samar Khan taking revenge on me! (Winks, while Samar flashes an evil grin)
I only drink on holidays. I don't believe in method acting. I was always sharp and sobre on the sets. You can never act when you're drunk. One has to give 100 percent (to a performance). The moment you have alcohol, your concentration has gone. It's very difficult to play an alcoholic. It's like comedy. You can easily go overboard.
Tell us about your character.
He is nothing else but in pain and boring. But after having alcohol, he becomes another person. He gets high and starts enjoying himself. He hides behind alcohol. You only see his pain when he's alone and when he's with Mahima.
What made you take up the film?
The story is very novel and interesting. And I know Samar for too long. I'm aware of his sensibilities. It's not that I'm present throughout the film. I'm just a small part of the film, just one of the characters. I like the thought, the language, the way it's written, and [I like] to play a character who's actually very boring and make him interesting.
I call him the modern-day Devdas. He's what Bharat Bhushan used to play earlier. He's lost his family, he's just living at the airport and hanging around there. I would not like to be around this guy. but I would hang around with him after he's had a few drinks because he starts cracking his one-liners.
How many Circuit roles have you got after Munnabhai?
This is the fear I had -- that I would be typecast into playing comic tapori roles. But it didn't happen that way. The next film where I'm playing a tapori is Munnabhai Part 2.
Hulchul wasn't a tapori role. The only similarity (to Munnabhai) was that I was playing the hero's friend.
How different are your roles in your forthcoming films?
My roles are varied. I have a serious role in Seher. I play a cop who barely talks and smiles. It's a true story about the STF (Special Task Force).
In Rokda, I play a very correct guy who goes wrong. It's a complicated character. There are dialogues that he says in the beginning that sound very right, but when he says the same lines at the end, they sound very wrong. [He goes] From someone who wouldn't harm anyone to a killer. But he isn't a whacko. He's an educated, normal guy.
In Chocolate, I play a computer hacker. Everyone is a thief in that film, and everyone gets involved in a robbery, and is on the run. It's a thriller.
In Salaam Namaste, I play an architect. He's a sobre guy, who's got his life all set, except for his marriage.
What about Munnabhai 2?
Lage Raho Munnabhai is a new film altogether. The only similarity (with the first film) is that Sanju and I play the same characters. But he's not a doctor here. The story is different.
How do you select your films?
I'm just taking scripts that sound good to me. If tomorrow I get a good script that has the same kind of character, I will do it. if I feel I will have fun doing the role, I will do it.
I like doing comedy and I know people enjoy watching me doing comedy. So I have no problem doing it. In fact, I have to do a comedy after two or three serious movies. It's like a vacation for me.
Coming back to Kuchh Meetha, how was it working with Samar Khan?
I was just trying to punish myself by working with Samar! Okay, okay, it was great working with him (laughs).
Samar's great at his job. People have asked me how come I've worked with him, since he hasn't even assisted anyone before. My logic says that you can make 50 films and still be a bad director, or make one film and be really good.
I don't think Priyadarshan, Shekhar Kapur, Rajkumar Hirani have assisted anyone. (Samar adds, "Steven Spielberg hasn't").
Some people don't have it. And Samar doesn't have it. Okay, okay he has it! (laughs)
How was it working with Mahima?
She's really good at her job. She's an intelligent actor, dedicated, and very easy to work with.
I'm very uncomfortable with romantic scenes. I'm not very good at them. She made it easy for me just by making me comfortable. I guess she does it by being friendly. If I have to play someone's buddy and that person is someone who doesn't talk to anyone, it gets very difficult.
It was easy working with Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) because I knew Sanju from before. He was one of the reasons I did the film. He's a buddy. It's not possible to hang out with him here because everyone has their own lives. But when we go abroad for award functions, we party.
Tell us about the Kuchh Meetha shooting experience.
Samar would have wild parties in his hotel room. The best thing about it was that the whole unit partied together, not just the main cast. About 20-25 people, including the light and sound guys, would party together.
The last day we got drunk! We had a blast doing the film. I never felt I went to Malaysia and shot a film. We finished shooting in 28 days.
You did some forgettable films before Munnabhai.
Yes, I did some horrible films before but I don't have any regrets. It's a process of learning. Before, I would listen to the script and picturise the story in my head. And it would look good to me. But I wasn't in a position to ask the director what his vision was like. The director had his own vision of the movie and it sucked!
So nowadays, I take a little interview of the director -- find out what his idea is, and how he plans to shoot the film, check out his background. Is the mentality matching? Is he thinking what I'm thinking? Because I have to act what he's thinking. If our thoughts don't match, I will not be able to do what he wants me to do.
Any plans of taking up choreography again?
I love choreography, and have been asked to do it in every film. I will do it, but only if I'm dancing. I won't be comfortable doing it for someone else. Like Prabhudeva. When I was shooting for Yash Raj's Salaam Namaste in Australia, they wanted me to do a song but I didn't have the dates.
The film belongs to Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta.
What made you shift to acting from choreography?
I didn't change my line. I was happy with choreography. I got an offer for Tere Mere Sapne which I refused because I thought I couldn't act -- I had no experience, no training…
But one thing led to another and I was suddenly in a movie. I didn't even have a screen test.
After doing the film, I realised I had talent. Now, I love acting.
You have become a proud daddy recently.
My son's name is Zeke Zidaan Warsi. Zeke is not just a sound. In Aramic, it means a shooting star. In Arabic, it means memory of God.
I thought it was a cool name. In school, I thought it would be better if he said my name is Zeke Zidaan, rather than Abdul Rahman!
But the name has nothing to do with (soccer star) Zinedine Zidaan. Zidaan means pinnacle, the highest point.
Now that you have a son, will you be very selective about the films you take up, as he'll be watching them some day?
I'm very selective about my films now, but not because my son will watch them after a few years. If that was the case, Shakti Kapoor would never do a film!