Television is for Rejects and Hopefuls
At the screening of his upcoming film, Kaun Kitney Paani Mein, at the 6th Jagran Film Festival in Delhi, we caught up with the ‘bad man’ of Bollywood, Gulshan Grover, as he opens up about doing more than just villainous roles.
We have recently started seeing a lot of you, from Punjabi television to new films to advertisements. What is new with Gulshan Grover?
I have never done television and have no intentions of doing so too. Television is for rejects and hopefuls; those who are partial rejects from cinema and those who are hopeful of coming into movies. But commercials, yes. Some commercials have far better reach than films. In fact, I did one recently with Varun Dhawan and one with Dhoni which has got a lot of children and youngsters talking about it. The visibility of those commercials is far more than many films.
You have been known as the quintessential ‘Bad man’ since Subhash Ghai’s Ram Lakhan. Then there were a series of sinister characters like a Mogambo or your role in 16 December. Now we do not see such iconic villainous characters in mainstream films. What according to you has led to the diminishing of such characters?
When those films were made, the villain was an integral part of the storytelling process. The more interesting, powerful, dynamic and sometimes even weird and crazy the villain was, the better the story became. Now the films do not have that kind of storytelling where there is a person who has harmed the family or has wronged the hero and needs to be tackled. Secondly, the villainous characters are treated with a lot of disrespect in the movies now. A lot of the casting is done to create news or sensation, ki chalo Karan Johar ko cast kar lo, we’ll get some good news. Then you plug that into social media and you create a lot of sensation.
The general feeling is also that you do not need a lot of acting for villainous roles which is incorrect; that’s another reason why none of these roles have created any impact. The bad guy roles are very stimulating, very exciting and require good acting.
Internationally, you’ve been a part of Jungle Book and co-produced a lot of movies in the past. Most of your roles have been very iconic, whether in Ram Lakhan or Tridev, but your role in Kaun Kitney Paani Mein is a major shift from what you usually do. How did you prepare for this role? Or did it come naturally to you?
Every actor wants to do something different from what he has been doing. For instance, look at me, I’m here for the screening of my film, Kaun Kitney Paani Mein, and I’m not the villain in the picture. I play a positive, emotional, co-starring role. I’m the girl’s (Radhika Apte) father.
It came very naturally and as I said, every actor, whether here or Hollywood, wants to grab an opportunity to play something else. The moment you get something you are not popular for or that is not your ‘brand’, the actor grabs it. I’m still playing the bad guy in Pooja Bhatt’s new film, Cabaret. And I’m happy that I accepted it. A lot of my stardom has been for playing the bad guy but that is not the only thing I want to do.
Tell us about your experience with Kaun Kitney Paani Mein.
Nila Madhab Panda is one of my favourite directors. He has picked up a subject matter that has some sort of social relevance and has not made it into a boring documentary kind of film. He weaves this social message into an interesting, entertaining film, which he also did very well in I Am Kalam. I am happy to have done this role.
What about during the dubbing?
The film has been made with sync sound.
How is filmmaking different when done with Sync Sound?
I am used to it. As you said, I am the first Bollywood actor who started working internationally in Hollywood. I have done many films in sync sound like Boom and 1947 Earth. I have no problem doing films in sync sound, I have been doing it regularly. In sync sound, it’s just the set. While dubbing, you get to see the scenes over and over.
You’ve been one of the actors to support independent cinema with movies like 1947 Earth & now with Kaun Kitney Paani Mein or your Indo-Canadian projects. Independent cinema has became a rage all of a sudden. We now see the main lead becoming a character actor as well. What are your views on these films suddenly coming to the forefront since you’ve been doing them since long?
I think the audience is ready for more than one kind of cinema. You see, in a year an audience prefers 4-5 mega films that are just pure entertainment, with no sensibility, as in there is not much to the story. And then there are audiences who want to see good stories, good performances and good direction, which is a very encouraging and good sign. It’s just that many good directors who have done some tremendous, cutting edge, newer films will now have an opportunity to make a big, commercial film.