A villain needs to be a fantastic actor to create fear: Gulshan Grover
Bollywood's 'Bad Man' dropped by the Khaleej Times office to speak to us about what it takes to play a villain, working with his son Sanjay Grover and his upcoming projects
Gulshan Grover's name is synonymous with villainy. The actor has been playing the 'Bad Man' since the inception of the concept. He entered Bollywood in the '70s and has been lauded for his portrayal of the antagonist in movies like Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, Yes Boss, Khanjar and many more. Becoming a villain wasn't a twist of fate for the actor. "It was absolutely an intentional decision based on many things. The first one being, I was and always will be passionate about acting. And I want to be able to act my entire life," explained Grover.
"If you play a hero, your shelf life is based on your good looks, your vanity and your age. After some time, you just sit at home and look back at your achievements. I want to act even when I'm aged, even if people don't find me attractive or don't find me worthy of a poster - which as a hero you must (do)."
"Secondly, it was also an intelligent marketing decision. With a very average personality and built, I was just like any regular person you see on the streets. Now, I'm glamorous, I've become a star (laughs). So, with these elements, plus the desire and the passion to want to be able to act, irrespective of my age, of how I physically look, how active I am, even if I'm walking with a stick I can play a villain very well," Gulshan told us when he dropped by the Khaleej Times office on Saturday to speak to us about his upcoming projects and 'emotionally blackmailing' his son Sanjay Grover to move back to India from California and join the Indian film industry.
With all this villainy behind him, he sure knows a thing or two about the inner workings of a deviant mind. Grover has penned his journey from the early days in the industry. His autobiography Bad Man will soon be seeing a worldwide release.
Working with Sanjay
Gulshan is working with his son on Hope Solo, which is being produced by Sanjay.
Hope Solo is a biopic on Afshan Ashiq, a female footballer from Kashmir who grabbed headlines as an alleged stone pelter.
When asked about his son, Gulshan was all praise.
"My son Sanjay is a great achiever in his own right. Soon after his post graduation from UCLA in Los Angeles, he started working in Hollywood's MGM Studios. He worked there for almost 13 years. I'm very proud of him. He is the first Bollywood kid to work in a Hollywood studio as a top executive. And now, with emotional blackmail, and acting and crying on the phone everyday, I have convinced him to try and live in India, because it's just us father and son. He agreed on certain conditions, he will produce various films, one of them is Hope Solo. He is also in the process of producing a very large film, which is set in the UAE, more details to come in the next press conference when he is there by my side."
Transformation of the villain
Playing the bad guy isn't something every actor gravitates towards. It's a methodically thought out process, something not all artists can pull off. Through the years, we've seen the arc this character has gone through from a typical rowdy to the everyday man. And Gulshan is quick to second that.
"It's a very specialised role. A villain needs to be a fantastic actor to create that fear, magic, and aura, film after film, with less screen time and with predictable deeds.
"It changes almost every few months though. The reason being, writers and filmmakers try to project and present on screen what's happening in real life. They pick up (trends) from newspapers, TV channels and the Internet.
"Over the years the way the villain has been portrayed has gone through an enormous change. The (typical) image of the threatening villain has disappeared from the screen because it doesn't fit into the film or the society. Today, the difference between the good and the bad is so submerged that it's difficult to differentiate. A villain does not walk into a restaurant in a threatening way like they used to. The villain could be sitting at the next table looking like an average family man," said Grover.
Working in Hollywood
He has paved the path for many actors in Bollywood with his stints in Hollywood with movies such as Eastside (1999), Panic (2000), Desperate Endeavors (2011), Prisoners of the Sun (2013) and more.
"I'm the first Indian commercial cinema actor to not only work in Hollywood, but to start the transition from Bollywood to Hollywood. Before me, there were wonderful actors who left India or were NRIs and got an opportunity to work in Hollywood films. It has never happened before that a successful Indian star, who's a household name, goes back and forth between Bollywood and Hollywood. I'm responsible for creating that path almost 30 years back. I'm very happy that path is being followed and cemented by colleagues like Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Anupam Kher, Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, and others."
On web series
Web series are all the rage now. Would we be seeing him in any upcoming ones? "Since my exposure to Hollywood, I've seen and understood how significant and wonderful the web is and all that it can do.
"I did Viacom 18's first film to launch on the web portal called Wood and the first feature film called Badman. It did extremely well, but nobody knows about it now. And therein lies my take on the matter. Web is a very different world and I respect it, and at the right time I would do it. But presently I'm not interested."
The man is a busy bee. Along with promoting his son's projects, he has many films in the pipeline.
"I'm currently working on three films. I'm filming for Sooryavanshi which is produced by Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, Reliance Entertainment and Akshay Kumar.
"The movie stars Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh.
"Then there is Sadak 2, directed by one of my favourite directors and mentor, Mahesh Bhatt. It has Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Dutt, Pooja Bhatt and Kunaal Roy Kapur. I'm an antagonist in the movie. After that, there is a movie called Mumbai Saga which is directed by Sanjay Gupta who has made films like Aatish, Kaante and Shootout at Lokhandwala. This film features John Abraham, Emraan Hashmi, Suniel Shetty and Jackie Shroff."
Gulshan Grover's message for Khaleej Times readers
"I am extremely happy to be at the Khaleej Times office! It's never happened that I have come to Dubai and not met my dear friend Suhail Galadari. I'd like to say how wonderful Khaleej Times is to all the entertainers from different parts of the world. Khaleej Times not only welcomes them when they are in town, but also supports their endeavours, City Times specially does a lot. Suhail Galadari always goes out of his way to support the enterprise of entertainers which is something I really appreciate."
Gulshan Grover’s son Sanjay is a filmmaker in Bollywood