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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

First of Many: Khurshed Lawyer revisits Munna Bhai MBBS

This week's First of Many features Khurshed Lawyer. In the 96th edition of our series, the actor recalls how it was working with Sanjay Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani directed Munna Bhai MBBS.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: March 30, 2022 9:34:48 pm
munna bhai sanjay dutt khurshed lawyer first of manyKhurshed Lawyer played the room mate and friend of Sanjay Dutt in Munna Bhai MBBS.

Actor Khurshed Lawyer says he was unable to hold back his laughter when Sanjay Dutt said the dialogue, “Sab kuch apna samajh, mere underwear ko chhod ke.” Khurshed was referring to the scene in Munna Bhai MBBS (2003) when Dutt meets his character Nagarajan Swami for the first time in their hostel room.

Khurshed who made his full-fledged acting debut with the Rajkumar Hirani directed blockbuster, fondly looks back at the movie, and how working with Sanjay Dutt broke several myths about the actor.

Khurshed went on to appear in films like Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Double Dhamaal, Pyaare Mohan and The Verdict, apart from television shows Sasural Genda Phool, Baa Bahu Baby and Sharaarat. He recently returned to acting with The Great Indian Murder where he played a psychiatrist.

In a chat with, Khurshed Lawyer looked back at his most memorable role of Swami in Munna Bhai MBBS, and how will always remain thankful to Hirani and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra for trusting a newcomer like him

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On landing Munna Bhai MBBS

I was 27-28 when the film came to me. A casting coordinator asked me to auditioned for it. I went to Raju’s office in Bandra where I tested for the “Dola Re Dola” scene, both getting ragged and of ragging others. After 3-4 months when I had forgotten about it, I got a call. They asked me to come to Santa Cruz to Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s office and sign up. I thought it was a wrong number as I didn’t even know his office. The man reminded me about that ragging audition. That’s when I realised it was real.

munna bhai mbbs scenes sanjay dutt swami khurshed lawyer Khurshed Lawyer and Sanjay Dutt in a still from Munna Bhai MBBS.

On his first scene with Sanjay Dutt

The first time I worked with him was during the hostel room scene. I had to keep a poker face and stare at him without a smile. I just couldn’t do it. We must have done 10-12 retakes because I kept laughing whenever he said “mere underwear ko chhod ke…” I thought I need to stay still or else they’ll throw me out. Our DOP Vinod Prathan kept shouting at me, and Baba would say ‘don’t make him nervous’. He then told me to think that he is not around, to just let him finish his dialogue and then, I could run out of the room and do whatever I want to. I followed, and the next shot was accepted. The warmth that he showed made me so comfortable. After that I never had any hiccups.

Even the ragging scene was very memorable. When Baba put his hand on my shoulder, I felt over the moon. When I came on set, someone told me to practice my steps as they thought I have to be dancing on the stage while getting ragged. Then they got to know I’m supposed to be with Baba. Though I pleaded them to allow me to dance too. That would’ve been fun!

On his best memory from Munna Bhai MBBS

I behaved like this new kid in school who sits in silence because he believes if he says anything, he’ll be thrown out of class. I think everybody except for Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Dutt, was as good as a newbie or their career were resurrected by this movie.

Baba was a completely different persona at that time, maybe because of his past. He is like a towering inferno. But he’s such a gentle giant, a beautiful human being. I’ve had such fond memories of him. For all that I had heard about him being hot tempered and moody, I never experienced any of it.

On the moment he experienced fame for the first time post Munna Bhai MBBS

Nobody had an idea that this movie is going to become so iconic. After the movie released, I had gone to watch it with my family at Maratha Mandir. Till interval, nobody knew we were sitting there. It was only later when I went to the bathroom, somebody noticed me and said, “Arey tu toh Swami hai na?” Realisation dawned on to me in the loo. I was on the stand when I got my claim to fame (laughs). After the film got over, we couldn’t step out for so long. It was surreal. I have people who regularly message me even today when they watch the movie.

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On his rapport with the cast and crew after the film released

We’ve had a very good relationship. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked again with Raju because when he approached me for the second part (Lage Raho Munna Bhai, 2006), I couldn’t do it. 3 Idiots also happened at the same time as Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. With Baba, I did Double Dhamaal and a couple of ads. He’s always been very fond of me and looks out for me if he gets to know I’m also part of the project.

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