Joined: 21 June 2005
Excerpts from the Interview:
Panga Na Lo is a sweet story of two families, headed by Satish Shah and me, who are neighbours and very close to each other. I play a Punjabi guy named Kartar Singh while Satish is Karsanbhai Shah, a Gujarati. Both are good friends yet there is a lot of cultural differences and ego hassles between the two. While the Punjabi guy is very aggressive, the Gujarati is thanda. One is a non-vegetarian and the other is a strict shahakari yet the two often meet for drinks at a pub. While Karsan is a foodie, Kartar is a Sun TV freak, obsessed with raunchy song and dance numbers. The son of the Gujju falls in love with Punju's daughter. And this is reason enough to evoke remorse between the two and it has been handled tactfully with comic lines. I enjoyed doing this film thoroughly.
You and Satish Shah are coming together after a very long time. Did the union bring back the sparks again?
Of course. The last time we were seen together was in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron which was the most hilarious film of our times. I guess that was the beginning of full-fledged comedy films in Hindi and went on to set a trend. Satish and I have known each other for years as we were classmates at the FTII. So was Rajen Kothari, the director-cameraman of Panga Na Lo. The three of us teamed up for this film and since it is a comedy, there were many situations that brought us even closer and we were happy to be teamed together.
The film was earlier titled Papa Pancho. So why was it changed later?
Panga Na Lo sounded better as the two guys are always at loggerheads.
By doing so, they are taking over the jobs of the comedians. But that is how the industry functions. There was a time when only action films ruled the roost, then came emotional films followed by love stories. Aaj comedy ka zamana hai and heroes are happy to do comic capers. That is the trend of the industry as it sells easily today.
Even an actor like you whose forte has been art films has gracefully accepted the change?
An actor is an actor. I believe that no one can challenge a born actor. A trained actor cannot be moulded as easily as a born actor who can do anything as a performer. Moreover, today money is foremost in everyone's mind. Films now are more commercially-inclined.
But don't you miss doing art films?
Of course I miss them. I have done some real good work in Tamas, Aakrosh, Paar, City of Joy, Dharavi, Mirch Masala, Holi, Sparsh, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Bhavni Bhavai, Bhumika and others and I hope such films are made again, though it looks like a rare possibility. There was a time when I worked sometimes for free of cost. I enjoyed doing Dhoop and was satisfied when I was paid 1/4th of what was promised to me. But like I said, today money plays an upperhand.
You forgot Ardh Satya?
I can never forget Ardh Satya. It made me. It was an author-backed role and was very challenging and satisfying for me as an actor.
Coming back to comedy films, your last film was Maalamal Weekly with actors like Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav who have made a mark as the funny men.
You have been in the industry for so many years and have gained immense experience in this field. Have you ever given a thought to direction?
I am an actor and will continue to remain one. I will never take up direction.
So now what is in the pipeline?
In Fool Aur Final, mine is a stereo-typed role. I am Amitabh Bachchan's conservative elder brother in Babul. In Don II, I play an Interpol agent. Then there is Chup Chup Ke and Is Pyar Ko Kya Naam Doon.
Joined: 16 January 2005
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