Indo-Asian News Service

Mumbai

The talented actor was first noticed as an exuberant hero in ‘Tere Mere Sapne’. But he has finally found success in two well-appreciated films this year.

“I had to wait over three years to get the right films. It was tough. I reached a point when I was about to sign any film that came my way. I stopped myself just in time. I couldn’t go on the sets and move around like a zombie. I couldn’t live with that,” Arshad said.

Now, after so many years of an enforced hiatus, he is back in the reckoning. He has been noticed for his two wonderful performances in two unusually titled films, Shashank Ghosh’s ‘Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2’ and Raj Kumar Hirani’s ‘Munnabhai M.B.B.S’.

“After ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ I was flooded with offers from wannabe David Dhawans who wanted to cast me as another Govinda. I decided to wait. My last release was Prakash Mehra’s ‘Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachao’. The script was good. But I don’t think the director was comfortable with comedy,” Arshad shrugs.

“I’m going broke and still turning down roles by tonnes...,” he says. That’s the story of Arshad’s career. He’s acknowledged as a good actor. But stardom is still a distant dream.

“Compliments are very important for someone who’s still to find his level. I enjoyed both ‘Waisa Bhi...’ and ‘Munnabhai...’ as much as people enjoyed watching me.”

While signing ‘Munnabhai...’, the first thing Arshad wanted to know was who would play the title role. “When they told me it was Sanjay Dutt I was all right. Any other actor would’ve tried to cut my role. Nothing of mine in ‘Munnbahi...’ was cut. I wanted to make sure the audience wouldn’t forget me.

“Director Raj Kumar Hirani gave me the freedom to interpret my character the way I wanted. Earlier they wanted my character to be a six-foot silent right-hand man for Sanjay Dutt. Then when the role finally came to me I made it something else.”

Arshad is bracing for “tonnes of offers to play the gangster... I know they’ll come. But I won’t do them.”

“My next film that I start in March is ‘Kabul Express’. It’s going to be directed by Kabir Khan, a documentary filmmaker with tonnes of experience in Afghanistan. It’s about two journalists who travel to Afghanistan to interview a guy in the Taliban.

“We’ll shoot the film at a stretch in 40 days. Naseeruddin Shah plays a Taliban. Roshan Seth plays a Pakistani general. We’re looking for the guy who will co-star with me. Producers are telling my director to name someone who doesn’t have to be a good actor because Naseer and I can do all the acting!”

“I’m now completing a long-pending project called ‘Zamaanat’ with Amitabh Bachchan and Karisma Kapoor, who’s also my co-star in the TV serial ‘Karishma: The Miracle Of Destiny’.”

He hates the quality of software on television. “All this mother-in-law-daughter-in-law stuff makes me sick.”

The years have been tough for Arshad. “It feels bad to have less talented guys race ahead. Being an actor from a non-film family means you’ve to prove yourself constantly. If you’re a star-son you can afford to give 15 flops and learn on the job. I don’t understand this logic. But I accept life as it comes, no point fighting the inevitable.

“Thank god for my wife Maria (Goretti). If she didn’t have a job, we’d be in big trouble.”

Arshad brightens up as he talks of his better-half. “She’s my anchor. We aren’t having kids now because it would be unfair to her career. But she won’t be doing any more movies after her brief appearance in ‘Waisa Bhi Hota Hai’. She does exactly what her heart pleases. No one can force her to do otherwise.”