Making a comeback into Bollywood is never easy and one after a 10 year gap is even harder. However, Chunky Panday who took it upon himself to reinvent his persona and characters, is now hoping to laugh his way back into the audience�۪s minds and hearts. Panday’s latest release ‘Bullett Raja’ hit cinemas on Friday but he has a few projects lined up including ‘Humshakals’, ‘Disco Valley’ and ‘Gang of Ghosts’.��BizAsia caught up with him about his current roles and just how he thinks Bollywood has changed since he was first starting out.
Firstly, of late, you have been concentrating on comedy roles as opposed to more intense characters. Was this a conscious decision on your part to do this?
You know people look at me and they start laughing so that there is a problem with the way I look, let�۪s start with that (laughs). It�۪s just that I took a little sabbatical from films way back in the 1990s and I got back in 2000 and there was a whole generation of people who had forgotten who I was especially the young children who were not around when I was there. So, in order to woo them, I started to do these quirky, funny characters like an Italian in one film and started to appeal to five year olds, to guys who were non-existent so I stuck out doing comedy for them. Everyone started liking it after that and I feel that in each of there is a five year old somewhere, waiting for us.
Do you think the older generation will have a different view on your comedic roles?
No because they have seen me as when I was a hero and that kind of stuff and I think they are entertained by watching me in this avatar. In a way, I can now say that I am stuck in comedy and people have stopped perceiving me as this. It is very dangerous and I am hoping the release of ��Bullet Raja�۪ (2013) can change this where I play a dark character who is very unpredictable. At one moment he can be dancing with you and the next moment, he could be throttling you to death. He is a bit of a maniac.
Do you find the comedic roles or the more intense roles easier to perform?
Obviously the things you haven�۪t done, you look forward to doing even more so I tried to do something challenging and decided to do comedy. Let me tell you something about comedy. Comedy is never about performance, it is all in the writing so if you have a comical scene then you will be able to come out with it. If you try and force comedy into a scene, it will always be a disaster. I am a great believer in that an actor is only as good as the director is.
What do you think you have learnt or are learning from the new generation of directors working on films like ��Bullet Raja�۪ and ��Humshakals�۪?
‘Humshakals�۪ is being directed by Sajid Khan. Tigmanshu, who is the director of ��Bullet Raja�۪, he himself is a brilliant actor and did a cameo in ��Gangs of Wasseypur�۪ (2012). I was surprised by his choice of ��Humshakals�۪ but this time I guess he was trying to put a commercial element into his realistic films. I asked him why did you think of me and he said that I wanted the character to be a method comedian and go where the script is going. It was easy for me to work in this film because it was changing a drama completely, all I had to do was go blank and then before the shot, ask the director what I was supposed to do. He used to re-enact the scene and all I did was mimic him.
You have seen two different generations of Bollywood. How do you think the film industry has changed?
It has evolved with these kinds of directors who actually show you how to act. With Sajid Khan, when I worked with him in ��Housefull�۪ (2010), he always shows you how I should act in the whole scene. The new generation is very detail conscious and the audience has great anticipation and there is no room for error. There was a time when I made a three hour film and people actually sat through it and enjoyed it and wished it went for another hour. Now everything has to be narrated within two hours and you have to be really quick and fast with what you are doing.
In terms of the actors and actresses from today, are there any in particular you would like to share screen space with?
I would love to work with all these new boys, whether it is Ranveer Singh or Ranbir Kapoor, even the new girls. They are so natural and all I want to do, when I share screen space with them, I am learning from them. I am not teaching them anything. There was a time when we would learn from our seniors but I really feel that the world has evolved so much now that the sheer energy they show, the younger generation are becoming so much smarter. They watch so much on the internet and even independent films that you can only learn from them, not teach them anything.
Your pairing with your fellow actress Neelam was all the rage in the past, today if she was doing a comeback, would you do a movie with her and what kind of film would it be?
I would love to work with Neelam, she is a very dear friend of my wife now and actually meet her every week, we are all good friends now. I would love to be back with her and share screen space with her, she just hasn�۪t aged, I don�۪t know what she eats. The most recent person who has been paired off with me is Mahi Gill, she is paired opposite me in a film called ��Gang of Ghosts�۪. I think she is a natural wonderful actor.
��Gang of Ghosts�۪ seems like an interesting take on comedies. Can you tell us a bit about your character in the film?
I play a ghost from 1935, the character does not age and I dress like an Englishman. I am also doing a film called ��Disco Valley�۪ which is set during Armageddon, it is the last day on Earth and the whole world is coming to an end. There are some mad people who think the world is going to end so they go to party in Disco Valley, like a rave party. I play a retired DJ who wants to do everything before the world ends.
Do you think the current audience is more receptive towards sex comedies such as ��Disco Valley�۪?
Sex is very much a part of our society, it is all around us and it is everywhere. How do you think we got a population as large as this? There is a taboo and you have to be really careful with the way you show it but a funny angle to sex is acceptable. If you show it the way it is shown in Western films, it is embarrassing but put a funny angle on it, you will find an audience for that.
BizAsia wishes Chunky Panday all the best with all his future endeavours and his latest release ��Bullett Raja�۪ is currently in the cinemas nationwide.