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'Sanjay Dutt is an idiot'

By Rajul Hegde
Last updated on: February 09, 2017 17:57 IST
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'Jolly LLB is not my girlfriend that I will mourn over it.'

'When they told me they are thinking of signing Akshay, I was happy because I knew he would pull it off. If they had got an actor less viable than me, I would have said, please, I will do it.'

Arshad Warsi is as candid as they come.

IMAGE: Arshad Warsi wears shorts for the interview, as he had accidentally burnt his thigh on his bike's silencer. Photograph: Rajul Hegde

Arshad Warsi is as much fun off-screen as he is in the movies.

He doesn't mind not being a part of the Jolly LLB sequel, starring Akshay Kumar, and is candid enough to admit that its director, Subhash Kapoor, gets a bigger budget for the bigger star.

While we won't see Arshad in Jolly LLB 2, we will see him in Irada, a thriller co-starring Naseeruddin Shah, Divya Dutta and Sagarika Ghatge.

He chats about movies and the next Munnabhai film, as contributor Rajul Hegde listens in. 

Akshay Kumar said in an interview that you paved the way for Jolly LLB 2.

That's rubbish! He is just being polite. He is very good in what he does. He has been calling me up to see the film. I know the script, it's interesting.

IMAGE: Arshad Warsi in Jolly LLB

Do you regret not doing it?

If I had only Jolly and no other film in my life, I would said, 'S***! It's gone.'

I wanted (director) Subhash Kapoor to do a film with Akshay. With me, he gets a budget of Rs 15-20 crore to make a film but, with Akshay, he will get Rs 40-50 crore.

Subhash can really execute his ideas. If he wants 5,000 people in his crowd, he can get that. He doesn't have to work around things.

I have been around for 20 years, so has Akshay, but Subhash has just started his career. He needs a hit after Guddu Rangeela

Jolly LLB is not my girlfriend that I will mourn over it. I knew what the script was. When they told me they are thinking of signing Akshay, I was happy because I knew he would pull it off. If they had got an actor less viable than me, I would have said, please, I will do it.

IMAGE: Arshad Warsi and Sanjay Dutt in Lage Raho Munnabhai

You are quite close to Sanjay Dutt. What's your take on his biopic?

We are dear friends... eat, drink and laugh... but I don't get into people's lives.

I have seen some of the pictures. Ranbir Kapoor (who is playing Dutt) is outstanding. He looks like Sanju, especially in the older role.

Sanju is a hunk with the heart of a baby. That guy is actually an idiot; he just got stuck.

When you see the film, you will realise what really happened (referring to the Mumbai blasts case). It's so political.

The press has a big hand in s******* him up. Like the whole thing was said that there was RDX in his van -- there was no van!

Director Rajkumar Hirani has confirmed that he is coming back with third installment of Munnabhai.

He has discussed this with me. It's a beautiful script and relevant to today's times.

Sanju and my character are supposed to be innocent, stupid idiots. But according to me, they are the nicest people in the world.

You will soon see the same innocent idiots coming up with another social issue. They will make you see the world the way they see it. I think the shooting will start after Sanju's biopic is done.

What is your equation with Naseeruddin Shah, since you have worked with him in Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya?

I had worked with him in Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachao (2001). It was the second day of my shoot and Naseer sir was in his vanity van.

I went to say hello with full respect. I knocked on the door and went inside. Before I could say anything, he looked at me and said, 'Tum badiya actor ho, iss film mein kya kar rahe ho (You are a good actor, what are you doing in this film)?' 

I had just started my career and had already started thinking that this movie would be a hit! (laughs loudly)

Then we worked again in Ishqiya and Dedh Ishqiya.

Once, when I was asked about him, I said, 'I can't call him a friend because he is much senior; I have great respect for this work.'

I got a message from him, asking, 'Why can't I be your friend?'

I was like wow!

Now we are friends!

IMAGE: Arshad Warsi and Naseeruddin Shah in Irada

What kind of films would you like to do?

I am a big fan of smart, sensible films with bright writers and directors. I really like people who like their jobs.

I feel I know my job because I am a decent actor.

It's heartbreaking when you work with people who are not competent enough. Your standard goes down. 

Many a times, I have signed a film and everything looks great. But when I go for the shot, it all falls apart. And it's too late to back out then. 

Would you produce more films after Hum Tum Aur Ghost?

I am a good producer but a terrible businessman. I like movies and want to direct a film. There are so many good actors now. I am a big fan of Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh. They are so good at what they do.

Earlier, what kind of actors did we have? You would wonder what they were doing! (laughs

How have you approached your character of an NIA (National Investigative Agency) officer differently in Irada

All cops are the same. 

I will only go out of my way to play a character if I am playing Gandhi because everybody knows how he talks and walks. Otherwise, as an actor, you must get your own angle so that people enjoy it.

So what's your character like?

Regular officers must be thoroughly boring but I don't want to bore anybody. My character is corrupt; he doesn't care for the system. He is only interested in getting his salary, chilling and going home.

It's sad that most of the guys in this profession are like this. In cinema, it has to be dramatised but we do it to a level where we give a completely false notion of reality.

Acting doesn't bother me -- I may sound pompous -- but I don't have issues with any kind of role. If I like the script, I do it. 

Your co-star in the film Sagarika said Naseerudddin would be happy when you were around?

We enjoy each other's company.

I like a happy atmosphere. I don't like people, who are serious and grey. I don't think anyone should take life or work seriously.

When I am working, I have a great time. I joke and fool around. All those people who keep a sour face because they are playing serious roles are idiots! I don't get it.

I have heard that people sit seriously because they are playing an angry man. Your work starts with 'action' and ends with 'cut.' During that time, you have to do your best.

So how was it working with writer-director Aparna Singh?

This is the first time I have worked with a lady director and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have huge regard for women because I find them a far superior species than men. In my house, my woman is way smarter than I am (laughs)!

It was a pleasure working with this lady. She was polite. Once she said 'cut' and I didn't hear it, so I went on and on. Finally, I said, 'Will somebody say 'cut'?'

She told me that she had said it. I told her to be louder next time (laughs).

It was nice to see somebody not yelling. It's a normal thing for a man to shout. 

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Rajul Hegde / in Mumbai