In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, Gulshan Grover opened up about why he is proud to be the first Indian artiste to bridge the gap between Bollywood and Hollywood, how he ensured Hindi film villains become pivotal to the story, and why he is proud to be the ‘Bad Man’.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Which new side of yours will your biography ‘Bad Man’ unleash?
I believe when your journey is at an interesting phase, you should share it with the world. Today’s youth is going crazy in this competitive world. So I want to show them the correct way. Your story must come when you are relevant, not when you are a thing of the past. Today, this villain is still standing strong. Today, I am playing the antagonist in three major upcoming films – Sooryavanshi, Sadak 2 and Mumbai Saga. I was the first Indian actor in a Polish film, in a Malaysian, an Iranian film. I was the first commercial Indian cinema actor to make a transition from Bollywood to Hollywood. I made a route between these two industries which is being cemented by Priyanka Chopra and various others.
I want to share how I rose. I fought poverty and made my way through Bollywood. Here, people told me you cannot succeed with such a height and look, but I proved everyone wrong. I said I won’t be a hero, but I will be a villain. So I want to share it to inspire people like an example that if a normal man like me can do it, so can anyone else. I felt it was the right time to tell my story.
Q. The book has an obvious title – ‘Bad Man’. Don’t you think it is time to break out of this mould?
That’s my name. That’s also paradoxical. It’s a negative attraction and so everyone said to stick to this title.
Q. What is the fondest phase of your life which you could relive while bringing out this book?
It is the childhood with parents and siblings. And now you relive it with your kids, your son, his achievements.
Q. You were the first Indian actor to go international. Now it has become quite regular. Do you think actors are better prepared to take the big leap today or is it just image building?
It’s a combination of many things. When I went there, nobody knew of our commercial cinema and actors, be it Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan, leave alone me. They had never seen our films. Only the desi people living abroad watched Hindi films. That too is a small group. But today, internet and Google has made life easy. Today it is easier to make noise through social media, personal PR, personal money and all. That wasn’t possible in our times. Hence, small achievements look big in today’s times. So it cannot be compared. The journey and hard work of actors from both the times is very important and worth an applause. However, you will be picked only if you have talent.
Q. You have petrified generations onscreen. Are you happy with the way your career has played out?
I deliberately chose the “Bad Man” villainous roles. I chased those roles and moulded them to create a brand. I rejected hero roles and supporting roles even in trying times. You will read all this in my book. I left roles which later were done by Mithun Chakraborty and Kamal Haasan. That’s because I had made a decision that I will only do villainous roles. So I created that “khalnayak” bad man image for myself. And I am proud of it. Hence my book is called “Bad Man”.
Villain is the second or third most important star of the film. And if you put in some hard work into it, and beautify that role, then your stardom also comes out that way. So I took the decision that I am going to be the ultimate villain that they’ve never seen. The biggest baddie and give them a variety of roles in that. And I am grateful to the audience and filmmakers who sort of helped me in that journey. And I changed the style of the villain. I don’t look like a villain in real. I don’t look like someone who can beat up 5 people. But you watch me onscreen, I can scare anyone.
Q. The way antagonists are projected today has changed. It is more about characters with grey shades. How do you see this change?
Cinema shows what happens in the society. Now real life has also changed. Today anyone can have grey shades. Hence, characters are written this way. It is an evolution, a progress in cinema. Villain roles are otherwise very challenging, so even heroes got attracted to that. I am very happy this change happened, and will continue. But at the same time, people also want a villain actor doing such villainous things in a different way, and that’s where films get offered to me.