Box Office Numbers are a Scam: Arshad Warsi

“I don’t like people trying to make films to show how intelligent they are,” says Arshad Warsi.

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Arshad Warsi has mesmerised the audience with his roles over the years. Whether it's Circuit from Munna Bhai MBBS or his role in Jolly LLB, the actor has had audiences cheer for the characters he portrays even years after the release of his films.

Lately, Warsi has taken a plunge into the OTT world with Asur, which brought forward a more serious side to his personality. Arshad Warsi will soon be seen in Durgamati, which is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on 11 December.

The Quint caught up with the actor to talk about his journey, what he thinks of box office successes and if he is consciously being picky in choosing roles.


You’ve been in the business for so long and have had box office successes. But then again, like any other actor, there have been hits and misses for you as well. Have you understood what this whole thing about numbers is?

Arshad Warsi: It’s a scam. See, numbers is something that’s a whole different ballgame. I am terrible with business. There are films I just can’t stand that do well and there are films that I just love that don’t see the light of day. So, it’s hard for me to understand. I think… movie business is like women; you don’t understand them. It’s very difficult to figure out a woman like it’s very difficult to figure out the movie business. I don’t know how it functions. How does it work? There’s so much chaos in this—it’s all over the place, but yet it works. I hear people talk around me all the time, but my undeveloped brain doesn’t understand it because it just doesn’t make sense to me.


We’ve seen you deliver some brilliant roles and in different capacities. Like ‘Asur’ is one that people remember now and at the same time people have talked about Circuit for so long. Your role in ‘Golmaal’ is one that people rave about. But I want to ask you that over the years the definition of acting has sort of changed a little. It’s not about enunciating every word or acting out every word. Has that ever made you change the way you work now in front of the camera?

Arshad Warsi: No. See, I have a very simple theory and I kind of follow that. I always believe that acting is like special effects. If you can see special effects, it’s bad special effects and if you can see acting, it’s bad acting. So, I have always tried not to act. I have always tried to play the part the way it should be and take myself out of the equation completely and I think that’s the essence of acting and I don’t need to change that. And I think other people should imbibe it. Acting has changed because we are now seeing the world cinema so we know where the rest of the world is, so we have to come out of our little shell and start doing the right thing, so we are doing it. We are becoming a little more real. Actors have started doing more realistic things so the glamour somehow has moved from inside the cinema theatre to outside. Earlier it was different. All the glamour would be on the screen. You would see them dressed and doing the things, you know, and in real life, they would probably wear a lungi-kurta, sit in the house and chill, wear normal clothes and hang around. Today it’s different. Today we see real characters dressed up real grungy and outside the cinema theatres we are well-dressed and we are well-turned out. We are getting better at it and I think the directors are also demanding actors to be more realistic, more believable.


But what kind of cinema do you enjoy? Do you enjoy what we are seeing now, or do you enjoy the good old Bollywood masala Hindi movie?

I enjoy good cinema and I am not talking just serious stuff. I like entertainment, no matter what form it comes in. I don’t like people trying to prove a point. I don’t like actors trying to show how good actors they are and filmmakers trying to show how good filmmakers they are. Your job is to entertain people, just do it. I don’t like it when people make films that are so pseudo where you are just making it to prove that I am very intelligent and I am very bright and all that but nobody else likes it except you and your family. It’s bullshit. So, for me, there have been times when I have seen films that are appreciated big time and I have been bored to death and then there are films that are crappy and they have enjoyed it thoroughly, so it all depends.


We have seen that you aren’t doing as many films. Are you being more choosy with the roles?

Glad I have work, otherwise people will say he doesn’t have work that’s why he is saying this. See, I’ll tell you honestly, I like my time, I like my space, I like spending time with my kids, I like going out for long drives, I like going out to my farm and staying there, I like going to Goa and hanging in my house, I like hanging with my friends, these dinners… So, I have a private life and I enjoy it. So, I give enough time to my work to make money so that I can enjoy my private life. So, therefore, I work a lot for like six to eight months. I work like a mad man and then I am enjoying that time. I have made all the money, then I go blow it up, have a great time, then I am broke and then I come back to work. I like to balance it out. My kids are growing up, my son is 16, my daughter is 13 and I want to spend time with them. Just another year or two years and they won’t look at me, they anyway don’t look at me now. So, parents have no consequence. There’s little time that I have, I will spend it and invest it in them rather than on a set. Some of the guys who keep offering me movies, I tell them please see that your script is good enough for me to get out of the house or want to get out of the house, otherwise don’t.


Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan

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Topics:  Arshad Warsi   Durgamati 

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