Post a sabbatical of three years, he is back to have fun with friends Akshay Kumar and Mithun Chakraborty in director Anthony D’ Souza’s BOSS. Yesteryears’ silver screen baddie Danny Denzongpa in a candid chat with Soumita Sengupta reveals more about the film and his forthcoming flicks Mental and Bang Bang. Over to him
You haven’t been on the scene for almost three years. What made you say yes to BOSS?
I was getting a lot of offers but I refused most of them because I wanted to take a break for a while. I get bored very easily. So even while playing the villain, I realised I was doing the same thing over and over again. So I took a break and went to my home in Sikkim. I grew fed up and took a three-year break.
In fact my image among the directors has become so awful because of this. So that’s why people were shocked when I signed this film. I thought it was going to be a commercial movie and since it featured Mithun Chakraborty and Akshay Kumar who are my dear friends, I thought, ‘Picnic ho jayegi, so chalo kar lete hain film ko.’ When the script was narrated to me, I was bowled over by writers Farhad-Sajid’s narration and I loved my character.
How much has the style of narration changed from the good, old days?
Not much. This script is like Manmohan Desai’s script of the ’80s and the narration was similar. In those days, even directors like Subhash Ghai enacted the script while narration. And described every scene with background music and dialogue. So the picture stayed with you and you knew exactly what the director wanted. So this script’s narration was also carried out in a similar manner.
BOSS is an action film and you have always played negative leads. Do you play a villain in this one too?
I play Akshay’s mentor in the film. While Akshay is called ‘Boss’, I am the ‘Big Boss’, a grey character. Akshay has done a lot of action in the film, which is packed with all the ingredients that will connect with the masses. There is a strong emotional bond between our characters in the film. I have done a few action scenes in this film which are mostly in the beginning.
I did this film for fun as I have my friends working in it. So visiting the sets was very enjoyable.
How different is the scenario these days compared to your days? Has filmmaking changed in any way?
Not really… Everyone talks about things like ‘Hamare dino mein aisa hota tha...’ But I have not seen many changes apart from the advent of technology. The basic shooting schedule is similar. Yes, now it is a much more organised industry and there is a department for everything. The money is also pouring in. We used to speak with each other in Hindi back then on the sets, but now people prefer to speak in English.
You ruled the Hindi film industry for a long time as a villain. But, back then, villains were as strong as the heroes. If we remember Amitabh Bachchan from Hum, we also remember Bakhtawar. But today villains mostly have comic shades. Why do you think the concept of a villain is slowly going out of fashion?
If a good writer writes a good role for a villain, it will come back in fashion. Moreover, the villain-hero formula ruled the box office for more than 40 years. When the audience grew bored of that formula, family dramas took over and then comedy. Thus, slowly, villains went out of fashion. But those genres were not able to rule the box office for long and action is back, and with that, so is the villain. We recently saw villains in Rowdy Rathore, Dabangg, Ghajini and Singham. I think the trend is being revived. Villains will be back in fashion.
Also, speaking of character roles… who knew Rishi Kapoor would one day become a famous villain? Today, directors are experimenting and if you’re a good actor, you will do justice to the role.
Do you miss those characters?
I think it has become monotonous and I would rather do something else. Like you said, these days we don’t see many villains and the scope for acting is very vast. If an actor is playing a villain in one film, he plays another role in his next film. Directors no longer typecast actors. If they spot potential in an actor, they cast you in the best role they have for you. Nowadays, directors look for character roles.
From the new lot of directors, do you follow the work of any director closely?
Closely... no, but I really like Raju Hirani and I watch all his films. Then there’s Tigmanshu Dhulia, especially his film Paan Singh Tomar. And then Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the way he creates a new world in his films. Anurag Kashyap has changed the way this industry works and has given new talent a chance. So I watch all their films. But, sadly, they don’t approach me with scripts. I do get offers from newcomers but none of them has approached me.
Diamond jubilee too! In those days, there were limited cinemas and not much else by way of entertainment. Television has replaced that. Secondly, we have two big movies releasing every week. I believe that has shortened the life of a film. But, then again, the industry is making more and more money.
You have also directed a film. Will we see you wearing the director’s cap any time soon or turning producer?
I don’t plan to turn producer. Speaking of direction, my taste is very different from what is being made these days. The film I made didn’t experience any losses but it might have today. Maybe, I don’t want to take the risk.
This industry has seen star kids following their parents’ footsteps. Will we see your son also making his acting debut?
He wants to and is taking some training but I don’t interfere in his career. He can choose to do whatever he wants. But I have made it very clear that I would not use my connections to help launch his career. If a filmmaker spots talent in him, they will cast him. You have to work really hard to get noticed; it is also destiny. My only advice to him is to focus on whatever it is he wants to do.
After BOSS, you will be doing Bang Bang and Mental.
When I signed BOSS, I also got the Bang Bang script, which I liked. Obviously, I have watched the Hollywood film which it is a remake of, so I agreed to do it. Secondly, I wanted to work with Hrithik Roshan. I have watched all his films and he is one of the best actors we have today. Post that I was offered Sohail Khan’s Mental and I thought, ‘Chalo, yeh bhi kar lete hain.’ Maybe after that, I will go back to Sikkim again! (Laughs)