He’s made a career playing the baddie in Hindi films and much to the Indian movie-goers’ delight he’s still going great guns. With his next film Bullett Raja in the making, Gulshan Grover speaks to Soumita Sengupta about his 10 best villainous avatars he has portrayed in his filmy sojourn. However, not one to give up easily, Grover says that his best is yet to come. Over to the ‘Bad Man of Bollywood’
Sir was directed by Mahesh Bhatt. I played a character called Chhappan Tikli. People loved the film and the way I portrayed a villainous character that is emotional about his family. I enjoyed the film because the character was very challenging.
There weren’t too many expectations from me in Ram Lakhan. But when the film released, everything changed. I went with Subhash Ghai and the cast to various premieres and I realised the audience was screaming ‘Bad Man, Bad Man’. That film not only made a significant difference to my career and my beliefs, it also got me the stature of a ‘big baddie’. It told me that even villains can become famous.
Shola Aur Shabnam was another very significant film in my career because director David Dhawan was reluctant to cast me in that role and it was producer Pahlaj Nihalani, who was very confident that I would be the right choice to play Kali Shankar. They initially wanted actors like Amrish Puriji and Om Puriji to play that role because, emotionally, it was a different presentation of a villain. But Nihalani insisted that I play the part, and I made fans even while shooting! On the sets, people sensed the sincerity and power of my performance. When the film released, my character was embraced by the audience. Even people who felt I should not have been cast in that role realised they were wrong.
Maha-Sangram was directed by the late Mukul Anand. Producer Nitin Manmohan and Mukul saab initially wanted me to play the baddie in the film but they changed their mind and told me I would play the good guy. But I was determined to play the villain and felt cheated. But when the film released, my character and the dialogue became an instant hit. It was a first for me, when distributors from different circuits started calling my director and asked him to send me to cinemas in their territories. It was the first time in my career that I was travelling and visiting cinemas to see the audience’s reaction to my work.
I am very proud of this film, not because of the awards I received but the pure soul with which the film was made. The intent was to highlight child labour and children’s education, and this was beautifully portrayed in a delightful and entertaining film by director Nila Madhab Panda.
I didn’t want to do this film for two reasons. One, it was a light role and I had intentionally stayed away from comedy. But my friend Chunky Pandey emotionally blackmailed me and insisted that I do the film. Second, director Rajiv Rai did not want to pay enough. Again, Chunky said although Rajiv Rai would not pay me much, he would spend on taking care of me, looking after me. And he was absolutely right. Rajiv was not only a superb director but also a fantastic host. He spends on building a character. I played a character called Tapasvi Gunjal and he made 35 outfits for my character, one better than the other. It cost him far more than he was paying me for the role!
This film was directed by Umesh Mehra and I played the baddie. It was an interesting character but the challenge was, the film also featured Pran saab, who was once upon a time the best villain. In this film, he was playing the heroine’s father. I was very unsure of how I would perform alongside Pran saab. What if he found fault with my acting? There are some roles which remain with you always and this character was one such role.
In Hera Pheri, I played a character called Kabira. And, once again, my dialogue became very popular, especially the phrase ‘Kabira The King’. It was a very interesting portrayal of a villain who is very stylised. A director sketches a character and I believe Priyadarshan managed to create a unique character for me in this film.
I played a highly educated don and how circumstances turn him into a funny don. Sooper Se Ooper is very close to my heart. I did a lot of research and added some elements to my character. It’s sad when you think a film will be appreciated by the audience but it is not well received.
Another film I am very proud of is my upcoming film, Bullett Raja, where I play a baddie agian. The character is interpreted by director Tigmanshu Dhulia, according to whom a villain in today’s society is a very respectable person. So Bullett Raja portrays me as powerful, wealthy and ruthless and someone who is difficult to confront. My character is called Bajaj saab. It upsets him when someone calls him ‘Bajaj’. He is that drunk on power and money.