Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
It's a little strange that actor Arshad Warsi, who plays comic roles so often and so well, should say that he is not much of a comedy fan himself.
The 44-year-old actor, who features in this Friday's release Zila Ghaziabad, says he doesn't like over-the-top and sex comedies and has rejected roles in quite a few of them.
In conversation with Sonil Dedhia, the actor explains how he chooses his films, who does comedy really well, and why the genre is so popular.
Most of your films have been comedies. Do you feel you have reached exhaustion point in this genre?
If you look at the films that are released today, eight out of ten are comedies. Even if the film has a serious backdrop, there is a hint of comedy in it.
Special Chabbis is a thriller film but there is so much humour in it. Humour is the safest bet today.
Not just I but also actors like Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan are doing comedy. The producer wants his money back and people love to go and watch comedies.
'People want to see actors in funny attire and actors are getting paid to do it'
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
If comedy is the safest bet for producers, does that hold true for actors too?
Actors are the most insecure and fragile people on this planet.
Every actor wants to deliver a hit film. Look at Amitabh Bachchan. He is so dignified when you talk to him. He has done tremendous amount of work and has been so successful. But his advertisements are so silly; I am sure he doesn't like doing them. But that is what is selling today. He is doing them because that is what people want to see and that is what works.
People want to see actors in funny attire and actors are getting paid to do it.
Have you taken up films under pressure and have later regretted doing them?
Yes, but I don't want to talk about them (laughs). Of course, all actors have regrets. It's just that if I was in a position to make choices, I would never do those things.
Today I am in a position to say no. Jolly LLB is a clean comedy. It doesn't have a single double meaning dialogue.
It is a modern day version of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. It is humorous and the audience will not be embarrassed to watch it with their family.
This film might have less chances of working but I am happy to do it.
'I don't like sex comedies or over-the-top comedy'
After playing Circuit in the Munnabhai series, we haven't seen you doing a film with an author backed role written for you.
The only person in this country today who is doing author-backed roles is Salman Khan.
People are writing scripts around his personality in his normal life. He says what he says and he likes to do what he does. Other than him, all actors are playing a character which is written by some scriptwriter. People have to write an author backed role for me.
Circuit was an author-backed role but if you notice, I never played that character again. Doing that was like abusing that character.
I got so many films and endorsements where I had to play Circuit but I refused them all. I will only do it again if I know for sure that Munnabhai will never be made again.
There are different kinds of comedy films being made today. Which ones do you enjoy the most?
I don't like sex comedies or over-the-top comedy. I am not comfortable doing them. I prefer intelligent and smart humour.
It is very easy to write sex comedies but I feel it's crap. Films like Munnabhai MBBS or Angoor or Chasme Baddor are difficult to write. These films simply rely on the audience's intelligence.
I was offered films like Kya Kool Hai Hum but I didn't take them up. I know sex comedies work a lot and make a lot of money but I prefer doing cleaner films.
'Every actor wants to do something different from what he is currently doing'
Riteish Deshmukh in an interview said that he doesn't like watching comedies. Does it hold true for you as well?
When you are an actor, you do things because you are required to do them. I am sure every actor wants to do something different from what he is currently doing.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to get what we love to do. I am lucky to do Jolly LLB. I go through so many scripts and come across one good film.
The last solo film you did was Hum Tum Aur Ghost in 2010. Was it a conscious decision on your part to do a solo film?
I don't time these things. I never think that I need to do a solo film. I don't think so hard in life at all.
People send me scripts and I listen to everyone. I do a film because I like a script. After Hum Tum Aur Ghost, there were some scripts with solo leads that were offered to me but they didn't attract me.
Do you feel the extra pressure when it comes to shooting and promoting a solo hero film?
Yes, because when you are alone there is no one else, you have to do everything yourself. When it is a multi-starrer like Golmaal I know that I can back out one day from the promotions because I know there is Ajay Devgn or other actors who will be available.
I am not saying that I wouldn't promote the film, but it's just that the environment is a little relaxed. When I am shooting for a solo film, I don't get a break. For Jolly LLB I just got two days off when I was not required.
'Akshay Kumar is really good at comedy'
Amongst the current crop of actors, who do you think is good at comedy?
Akshay Kumar is really good at comedy. He has found his niche and he really makes people laugh. You need to be a besharaam actor to do comedy and that's what he has been doing.
Salman has his own peculiar style, which is bizarre, but it's funny to watch him.
Any plans to revive your production house?
At the moment, I am very busy with acting. Production takes a lot of time and it is a big headache.
You also had plans to direct a film.
I would love to direct a film, but as I said, I am very busy. I will direct a film later. I would love to cast Sanjay Dutt in my film. He is a friend and a very good actor.
There are so many good actors I would love to work with.