Chunky Pandey was on a high in the 80's and the 90's with his films like Tezaab and Aankhen, to mention a few. He then disappeared for 8 years from the scene and now he is back with a bang with films like Apna Sapna Money Money, Don and I See You. So lets find out where Chunky all this while, about his second Innings in Bollywood and future films.
I See You was your last release of 2005. How was the experience of working in Arjun Rampal's first home production?
Arjun Rampal and Meher are very dear friends of mine. When they were making the film and I was very excited because I feel that making a film, for an actor, is one step ahead in life. It is when you finally get to do the work you want to do in life. Originally for my role they wanted Paresh Rawal or Arshad Warsi but they could not do it because there were some date problems. They actually wanted me to do Boman Irani's role. So they narrated me the subject, I liked Boman's role but it was a very short. I was more in love with the other role. Then one day Arjun called me and said, "Hey buddy we are on for it, I think you are going to be doing it." That was like the last resort but it was great fun, because we are going to go to London to shoot it.
How was it working with Vivek Agarwal?
This is Vivek's first film and he is good. Every first time director gives little bit of his soul to the film, I always feel that. I have worked with lot of first time directors like Vishram Sawant in 'D' and I have always been good with the first time directors because they have somehow removed the best work from me. Sometimes you need someone new to give you some different prospect in life or a different look all together and new directors have done that to me, so Vivek was fun to work with.
What kind of roles you are looking forward to?
You saw what I did in Apna Sapna Money Money where I did a make over. I did not distort my face much, but just wore a wig and I changed my body language completely. So I want to be very different now in all my films. People should say that 'wow this guy is not the same'. I will really strive to do those kinds of characters and give that little effort. I like to be known by that and I really enjoy it because you get bored of yourself after a certain period of time. Luckily, I don't have to have to play the conventional hero now. I can play these kinds of roles which I really enjoy.
I like to be an unusual suspect and I think Paresh Rawal and Arshad Warsi have actually opened the full door to this kind of things. So it's great to do this kind of job.
What are the other films in the pipeline?
I have got a film called Fool and Final coming with Firoz Nadiadwala, which is directed by Ahmed Khan and which has got a whole assortment of actors. The film stars Sunny Deol, Vivek Oberoi, Shahid Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Johny Lever and me. I play very interesting character called 'Rocky' who is a jewel thief.
I have got couple of other films in the pipeline, which are been negotiated right now. I think you are going to see much more of me in 2007 like you saw in 2006.
You have done your come back, you are doing lots of such kind of roles which attracts people towards you; people really feel that Chunkey is doing different era?
I must say that a lot of credit goes to Ram Gopal Verma for giving me 'D'. I remember when he called me to do that film and I was very excited. I went to meet him and he said, "I want you to do this film of a 'dreaded gangster'." So I said, "Which film of mine have you seen before that you feel that I can play a dreaded gangster?" He said, "I have seen Aankhen and I loved it and I saw it three-four times." I said, "You have seen me in a comedy and you want me to play a gangster?" He said, "No, but I am very confident because you have got that range in you."
He has seen a bit of Tezaab also and so he made me grow a beard because Ram Gopal Varma has his way, he will make his heroines also grow beards. He loves people with beards. He made me grow my hair long. What I remember from that film is the death scene which I did because that is said to be one of the most memorable scenes ever done by an actor. Javed Akhtar saab and Shabana Azmi said this to me when they saw the film. I guess that was when the industry stood up and said 'Wow this boy is back. He can still deliver and he still looks good too.'
Then after that film, I got a lot of offers like Apna Sapna Money Money and Don and then Fool and Final. Darwaza bandh Rakho is another film that I had done in the beginning of 2006 with Ram Gopal Varma and I look forward to work with him again because he is someone who does different things and loves to experiment. I like dangerous people like him.
You were saying that you were a bit apprehensive while doing these characters?
No, I was very comfortable. I knew that this is going to work because I felt comfortable doing it and Ramuji makes people very comfortable in gangster roles because I feel in him, there is a gangster hidden somewhere. If he did not make movie I am sure he will be in the underworld.
Tell something about Apna Sapna Money Money? What is the history behind your character?
My role in Apna Sapna Money Money has been appreciated a lot. I just hope I win a few awards for that. But the more important part is that the audiences have appreciated my performance. Frankly, the director of the film Sangeeth Sivan came on sets of Darwaza Bandh Rakho to meet Aftab Shivdasani. Aftab heard this character and he said, "No, I cannot do this."
I had just seen his film Kya Kool Hai Hum, which I thought was really cool. He took me in corner and said, "That guy is not doing it why don't you do it," I said, "Ok", so I took someone's reject basically. That time this character was called Anthony Gonsalves because the character lives in Goa but then when Subhash Ghai heard the subject and said that he wants this character to be Nepalese Don in Goa. He wanted to give that colorful look like he gave to Rajpal Yadav 'Chote Sarkar'. They asked me, Will I do this Nepali thing? I said, "why not?" But I am too tall to be a Nepali I said. Then what we thought was, Suppose Gabbar Singh was born in Kathmandu not in Ramgadh, how would he would be? He may be like this character. So I wore Gabbar Singh's clothes and my dialogues are slightly Nepali kum Pathani mix "oh tum kya karta hai", so it has got a little bit of pathani in it also.
The language is totally made by me because I speak to my daughter Risa like that. The governess who looks after her is half Nepali half Bengali, so she has got this accent. My daughter cannot understand anything but that language, so I learnt that language and I brought it on screen. It really worked and people really liked it because I am sure if a two and a half year old can like it, then the rest of the world can like it for sure.
How does it feel after coming back to the industry?
Yes, I am glad because after Apna Sapna Money Money, I have been really getting some good offers. I am glad but also apprehensive if I can do this work. I would not say I want to repeat the Apna Sapna Money Moneyperformance unless they made a sequel of the film but I hope I can give even better stuff and more kind of variations to the audience.
How was your association with Mr. Subhash Ghai?
I have known Subhash Ghai for a very long time. As a kid, my parents used to know him. In fact once, I needed to go to a place and my parents refused to give me the visa. They said I was too young. But I replied by saying that I have just signed a film. They said they will give it to me only if I have signed a big film like Subhash Ghai's. So I went to Subhash uncle, "Please give me a contract and actually that was the first film I ever signed."
Meanwhile you were doing Bangla Deshi cinema?
I was in Bangladesh for six-seven years working there and it was a quite an experience.
You are a superstar over there. Tell us something about it; let the audience know about it?
The 'D's in my life have been very lucky, like D for 'Dhaka'. A friend of mine told me why don't you go there (Dhaka) and do films. The first film I did was called Shami Keno Asha Me which was a super duper hit, the biggest hit ever made in Bangladesh. Then I got a lot of other films that came by. There was a post Aankhen time when Govinda got all the work and I stopped getting any work because I guess I didn't have the backing of the directors here. I was getting work but not the work that I wanted.
When an actor is uncomfortable doing what he has to then he comes with bad work. So I decided let this go for sometime. The whole film industry was undergoing a transition; there were so many new boys who would come in and I had lost my bearings a bit. I blame it to myself because you know I feel you have to be alert and you have to be in good shape and constantly reinventing yourself. So I went to Bangladesh and my film started working out there and then I decided not to make the mistakes I have made in Bollywood. Because in Bollywood, in my first innings, I worked with lot of new producers. But what happens with new producers is that he starts his first film with lot of josh but somehow he cannot complete it and give it a good release. That is why from doing real super 'A' grade films, I came down to 'B' grade cinema, which really deteriorated completely. It is very important to work with good banners because an actor can never make a film run. It is a full team work, its directors, producers everything put together.
I enjoyed this stint of five, six years in Bangladesh, did lot of hit films out there. I have got lot of love and respect and a small secret I do not even speak Bengali. I got scared because if I learn Bengali, they may give me a Bangladeshi passport but I wanted to come back to Bollywood, this is where I belong, and this is where I was born. So that was a stop gap where I enjoyed so much. I love Bangladeshi food, I love Bangladeshi people, and they are so nice. In fact, they say the Bangladeshi people are the happiest people in the world, they are genuine. They give so much love and respect that if you go there once you want to keep going back to Bangladesh again and again. Every time I went there I used to come back five kilo's up.
What kind of growth do you see in yourself as an actor? You have made a comeback now and you are doing good roles which are being appreciated.
Let us say, I am like a good wine, 'the older the better.' I have grown more mature and I have grown more observant. I have been actually watching what works and what doesn't. The game has become much bigger than when I left. Now coming back, it is ten folds bigger. So what I know for sure is that today good looking things are in. It is very important to be physically fit, to look nice because people want to see good looking things all the time. That has become the agenda of the day, besides great performances that are really coming in. I am just talking about the audiences the way they think, and the audiences are the best but the most unpredictable. You never know what they are going to like, how they are not going to react. But for sure, I know that from now on, whatever I will do, I will try to make sure that I get into their hearts, either from the front door or from the back door. Because I got that experience and I think I have learnt a bit what I should do and I should not really.