Little do I know, when I chat with Arshad Warsi in the afternoon that the same night, his role of the lovable rogue ‘Circuit’ from Munnabhai M.B.B.S. would win him the Zee Cine Award as the best comedian. He looks handsome in his all black attire but also looks quite small and short. Yes, he is disappointed when I tell him that I am not from TV or Radio. He demands to see my business card and is even more bewildered by my medical credentials. Finally my media pass for the evening convinces him for an interview.
When I ask about how he got to play Circuit, he says, "It was plain lady luck. I met producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra at a party and he asked me to do a role of a gangster in Munnabhai M.B.B.S. I agreed but requested him to allow me to interpret the role in my own way. In this film, Raju (Director Rajkumar Hirani) was the captain of the ship but he let me bring in my own imagination into this portrayal."
As far as the preparation of the role goes, Arshad says, "I don’t think that was very difficult. Here was an underworld character which was funny, friendly and loyal. Initially the character was conceived as just a plain side-kick for Sanju (Sanjay Dutt) but I contributed a few extra touches- like his attitude, his lingo and his mannerisms to make him more humorous."
About his fantastic on screen- chemistry with Sanjay Dutt, he says, "When two good actors work together, the chemistry shows on screen. It comes naturally through their actions and more importantly, through their reactions."
Recounting his first film- a successful ABCL film – Tere Mere Sapne, Arshad says, "I was working well as a choreographer and had no intention of joining films. Joy Augustine- the director of this film, had come to my place for a dinner and he offered me a lead role. Afterwards Mrs. Bachchan too, liked my photographs and that film was on."
After that successful debut, his career hit a snag with a spate of flops like Betaabi and Hero Hindustani. Explaining that dark phase, he says, "In that phase, every David Dhavan- wannabe director who wanted a substitute- Govinda came to me. After doing a few such films, I myself got fed up of repeating myself. I also have practically no PR skills. I prefer to finish my work and come back home to my family. Whenever I make good money, I take my family on long vacations. Parties, connections – I never was in that bracket. This attitude of mine also hurt my career in a way."
In that barren phase, TV shows kept him in the lime-light and he is still doing a few game- dance- talk shows. About his Post- Munnabhai phase, he says, "Now I am again getting offers. I want to do different roles. It doesn’t matter whether I am a hero, the second lead or even a villain. As far as the public appreciates my performance, I would be happy!"
If Munnabhai is any indication, then public has already begun to appreciate his performances!