Bollywood's Funny Man

Arshad Warsi

Arshad Warsi talks about his first negative character and the role humour has played in his life.

Throughout his 17-year-long career as an actor in Bollywood, Arshad Warsi has been equated with comedy. His debut film Tere Mere Sapne set the tone for his comic timing in 1996. The actor followed it up with memorable characters that reinforced comedy as part of his on-screen personality — Circuit of Munnabhai series and Madhav of Golmaal series among others.

In director Kabir Khan's Kabul Express (2006), which aimed at documenting the filmmaker's experiences of war-torn Afghanistan in the form of fiction, Warsi unwittingly became the comic relief in the film. Even in Abhishek Chaubey and Vishal Bhardwaj-penned Ishqiya, the underlining, dark humour lent an affable quality to his rogue character Babban.

Ideally, the actor would have preferred his filmography dotted with characters that portray a range of emotions. But Warsi has instead chosen to reconcile with the fact that comedy brings him his bread and butter, while also allowing him to live out his passion for acting.

He says, it has done more than just that — the genre has kept him from turning into a cynic. "Humour has been an integral part of me both on- and off-screen. I'm the resident comic for my family and friends and the humour goes up a few notches when I'm a few drinks down. Most importantly, it has allowed me to laugh at myself during tough times and fuelled my optimism," he says.

On his part, Warsi makes sure to choose carefully from the scripts he is offered. "A Circuit, Madhav and Babban don't get written and offered to me everyday. Invariably, in the aftermath of their success, I am asked to take up replicas. It is easy to misuse the memorable characters I play, but I stay away from the temptation, choosing carefully to ensure that the new comic role isn't anything like those I have done before," he says. The consequence has been times when Warsi has spent months, sometimes years, without any work.

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