Gulshan Grover on his web avatar, international films, and the changing face of villains in Bollywood
Actor Gulshan Grover has been in the news for his upcoming project, Badman. Not only is it the first web feature film of India, it will see Grover playing a lead for the first time in his 35-year-long career. The 80-minute ‘mockumentary’ will feature actors like Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Manisha Koirala, and Kunaal Roy Kapur. And there are rumours of a cameo by Shah Rukh Khan.
The title Badman has been borrowed from the moniker Grover has earned, by playing menacingly negative roles in Ram Lakhan, Mohra, Jung Baaz, Criminal and Jism among others. This ‘web movie’, though Grover disapproves of the tag, is a celebration of the iconic villains of Hindi cinema. “I am in a very exciting stage of my career. At a time when villains are disappearing from the screen, Gulshan Grover, the iconic villain, is taking on the role of a hero. I am happy to be participating in the future of cinema, with this feature film intended for the Internet audience,” chuckles the 60-year-old actor, while also taking a dig at filmmakers Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap turning villains of late.
Meanwhile, you will see Grover in a full-on dark role in Pooja Bhatt’s Cabaret in the coming weeks. Other Hindi films are too early to talk about, he says, before commenting on his international film diary.
Grover is doing a Malaysian film, I am a Terrorist, where he plays “somebody who believes in fundamentalism”. Then he is working on an Iranian film, Hello Mumbai. “It’s a love story between an Iranian boy and an Indian girl. I play the fiance of the girl, so that romance won’t be very happy,” the baddie breaks into a bout of laughter.
Grover is also a bottleneck in former Australian cricketer Brett Lee’s love life as portrayed in his debut film, Unindian. “Lee’s character is attracted to an Indian girl. It’s later revealed that Gulshan Grover is her husband. My role is complicated, as he looks at a man-woman relationship in a different way,” shares the senior actor, adding, “Lee was shown some of my films by the crew, so he would come, and ask me if his shot was right. He is very respectful.”
In his Canadian outing, The Gun, he plays a good-hearted Sikh gangster. He takes a break from being villain in the American Lucky Star, and British Prisoners of the Sun. In the former, he appears as an Indian archaeologist, who can decipher Egyptian codes; in the latter, he is an Indian immigrant who supports a Latino girl’s fight for justice.
Best of both
This packed foreign film calendar shouldn’t come as a surprise, for Grover is one of the first Indian actors who made a successful transition from Bollywood to Hollywood, in the mid 1990s. He’s happy to see more Indian faces — Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Anil Kapoor, and Deepika Padukone — making a mark in Hollywood now. “When I started to work there, the production crew used to say ‘If you need to start working in Hollywood, get a green card and live here’. But I continuously told them, ‘why should that be the case, why can’t we fly abroad as and when work comes up, like we do for outdoor shoots in Germany, or LA’,” recalls the actor.
Badman will be released in four parts on the Voot app. Details: voot.com
— Barkha Kumari