In Conversation with Arshad Warsi
The ongoing Signature Startup Masterclass, Season 2, a brilliant platform that inspires talented individuals to convert their “passion to paycheck” by exhibiting real-life success stories of revered personalities from different walks of life is well and truly underway now. The celebrities chosen for the platform provide guidance to aspirants through stories of their life, struggles, and by sharing anecdotes about their journey. This season, Radhika Apte kicked off the Masterclass journey followed by multifaceted actor Rana Daggubati. And in the latest episode we have Arshad Warsi talk about his journey that is no less than a movie script.
While he may be known as Bollywood’s funny man, Arshad Warsi is a bundle of talent that has come up the hard way. From a teenage struggler, he found his calling in dance when he joined Akbar Sami’s dance group. Winning the Indian Dance Championship, he went onto win the 4th place at the World Dance Championships in the Modern Jazz category. An underrated actor, he really is a complete person whose ability to slip into the skin of his character is unmatched. But before that, he sat down for a chat with LiveInStyle and gave us an insight into his life, his career, and the struggles he faced as an actor.
As a mentor at the second edition of the Signature Startup Masterclass he hopes that his fans get to see him as he is in real life. “I think this platform will give people a bit of clarity of who I am as many people have many misconceptions about where I come from and the kind of person I am. Also, there are a lot of things that are written about me that is not true, that’s ok but this is a good platform for people to know who I am off screen – they will know this guy is not as weird off screen as he appears on screen (laughs).” Naturally he is thrilled that he was among the coveted few, who were chosen for this event. “I was quite honoured and felt good about it as it is wonderful that others also think that I have done good work and want me to be part of this. It feels nice and I am a person who loves good debate and conversation and that is what I am expecting to have as that is very rare.”
Arshad started his career in Bolloywood as a choreographer and has worked on the title track of the movie ‘Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja.’ His debuted in the 1996 film Tere Mere Sapne and as the proverb goes, there was no looking back after that. Speaking on his initial days he says, “initially there are a lot of things that I did not want to talk about. Like I stopped my studies abruptly and started to earn money and that is not what I want my children to do as it’s not a wise thing to do. But yes I knew what I did not want to do rather than want to do so I kept doing work. There is a lot of dignity in any and every work you do and there is no need to be embarrassed about what you do.” Naturally his advice for aspiring actors trying to find a foothold in the industry is simple. “Just be honest with what you need to do. Do not come to the industry for the fame, fortune, money, girls and beautiful location. Come because you have a passion to act and the rest is like a package that follows but getting the acting right is most important.”
An actor who follows his heart Warsi admits that he does a role that he feels good about. “Of all the roles I really enjoyed Babban from Ishqiya the most. When Abhishek (Chaubey, the director) explained the character and said there is a shot when Naseerudin Shah and me are on the ground and Vidya is about kill us and that is the time when Babban falls in love with Vidya and I said I love this character.” And while he admits it is hard to choose a favourite among the directors he has worked with, he says that some have an edge – whether it is Raju Hirani, Subhash Kapoor and Abhishek Chaubey. With Indus Creed, one of India’s longest-running rock band performing on stage, the evening was peppered with the right dose of music and fun.
In spite of all his fame, what is endearing about Warsi is his absolutely easy going nature. “Success really means nothing to me and I just feel that you should understand that success must not be taken seriously as it will not last. I am not saying look up to failure but I feel success introduces you to the world, but failure will introduce the world to you. You don’t learn anything from success and drives you nuts and you need to be really solid in your head to handle it, that’s why I don’t give it any importance.” He also says that while he has no role model as each person is his or her own self, he is definitely inspired by Amitabh Bachchan is someone he has always adored. Looking ahead, Arshad says he will definitely don the director’s hat soon. “I would want to direct soon and every time I want to direct, movies line up and I get busy. All the sequels to my movies are underway so that is why it is getting delayed but will happen for sure,” he signs off.
And here is my next interview:
Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Well this may be a topic that is debated, but actor Arshad Warsi’s life story is like a movie script. For someone who was orphaned when he was only 14, lost all his property, dropped out of school after his 10th grade and did odd jobs like a cosmetics salesman and worked in a photo lab before finding his calling as an actor, his real life story is nothing short of how dreams come true.
Having worked as an assistant to Mahesh Bhatt on Kaashand Thikana, he was part of Akbar Sami’s dance troupe and won the fourth prize in the Modern Jazz category in the World Dance championship in London at the age of 21. He made his debut in Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL)’s Tere Mere Sapne and he soon rose to fame with his portyal of the lovable character Circuit in Munnabhai MBBS. In fact Arshad was not the first choice for the role, but his acting prowess has ensured that he was the right choice for all his roles. Little wonder then that Jaya Bachchan thinks of him as the Al Pacino of the Hindi film industry.
In an interview, Arshad Warsi spoke to us about his favourite party places, favourite music, and more. Take a look.
What’s your idea of a great party at home?
Good friends and at a party you should be able to do what you like and embarrass yourself and still no one will judge you for what you are wearing or doing.
What is your favourite night spot?
Home for sure. I don’t go outside a 5km radius outside my house and my friends vouch for this.
Which city, according to you, has the best nightlife in the country (or even across the globe)? OR What is your favourite party city?
New York and Thailand is quite crazy. When I was growing up, Mumbai was great as I was living in night clubs and I would be dancing the whole night. As of now with laws and regulations, things have changed in our country. But I would say Delhi is quite wild. My favourite party city is in New York as my friends live there and its good fun being with them.
Since you’re a big star, do you get to catch up on movies with your friends?
Yes I go for movies all the time, I go with my kids, alone, with Maria (Goretti, his wife) and also with friends. I go at 9:00 a.m. and that’s when no one is there at the theatre.
Who, according to you, are the most stylish people in Bollywood?
I think Shah Rukh Khan is very stylish and suave and Ranveer Singh has his own craziness which is very good and his high energy is in your face. Among the women, they are all very well dressed but Deepika Padukone has a body to die for and anything on her looks stunning. Today all actors are
What is your ideal music or a favourite number (or a favourite artist) you’re constantly humming?
No I don’t hum anything as I am terrible singer. However I listen to varied music from classical, reggae and meditative music, though not much of hip hop. I am in the retro space.
Do you enjoy cooking? What is your favourite cuisine?
I love cooking and I think Maria was inspired to cook from me. Today also I cook especially when we have people at home. I cook a lot and the last dish I made was a Raan Biryani and I love good food. As we are Indians, any food that is slightly connected is what I enjoy so Thai food, really well made Mexican food and Italian food.
Name your favourite holiday destination/s. And what do you prefer: a quaint holiday destination or a bustling city as a getaway?
I love New York as we have friends there and visit the city a lot. Thailand is another favourite and my wife and kids are certified divers so Maldives is another favourite. And since I love to travel, both quaint and bustling holidays work for me.
What’s your workout regime like?
I work out only when I have a movie coming up or I am required to get fit. I enjoy my food and its funny when you think you worked so hard to make money but cannot eat! I have a trainer who kills me and yes I cycle and walk a lot and do a lot of freestyle workouts.
What does Arshad Warsi do on lazy Saturdays/Sundays?
I have a benchmark of laziness as I can sit in one place and not move. It’s weird because when I am at work, I don’t sit but when I am not working, I just sit and don’t move.
When do we see you on-screen next, and what is it about?
I am going to be doing a whole lot of sequels to Golmaal, Dhamaal, Ishqiya, Jolly LLB and Munna Bhai series, but my next film is Veer Pareira. It’s a sweet film about a person who kind of lives in the past as he loves nature and does like technology and likes to grow his own food. Then I start shooting for Dhamaal a baseless comedy so yes there is a lot of work.