When the tall and well-built Arjun, whose real name is Firoz Khan, was offered the role, he was only told that a big celebrity would be part of this production
Bollywood actor Arjun, who got a fresh lease of life when film-maker B. R. Chopra cast him in Mahabharat way back in the 1980s, is now playing a righteous character in an Indo-Canadian production.
Titled Blacklist, the film, which is being made in Toronto, has leading Hollywood star Brad Pitt in a small but significant role besides actor Abhishek Bachchan.
When the tall and well-built Arjun, whose real name is Firoz Khan, was offered the role, he was only told that a big celebrity would be part of this production. The Afridi Pathan from Peshawar was kept in the dark about Brad agreeing to do the film. “Brad has a cameo in the film. Abhishek and I play officers. Abhi is suspicious of me and thinks I am a baddie, but it eventually turns out that Brad is the bad guy. It was an enthralling experience working in the film. Working with Brad made me realise that he is a great human being. What a handsome man and excellent and warm person!”
Thankful to B. R. Chopra for offering him the role in Mahabharat even though he had failed in auditions, Arjun says it is important for every actor to get an identity. “I am still recognised as the warrior prince Arjun. Amitabh Bachchan is identified by his character in Zanjeer, Amjad Khan as Gabbar from Sholay, Dharmendra for his role in Phool Aur Patthar and Vinod Khanna for Kachche Dhaage.”
However, Arjun refused to be typecast as the righteous character like his mythological persona on Doordarshan. “Thanks to Mahabharat, I have acted in over 150 Hindi films. But I refused to play a character similar to Arjun. It will be the death knell for any actor if he keeps repeating himself. As an artiste, I derive more joy by playing negative characters”
In his upcoming film Welcome Part II, Arjun plays Danny Denzongpa’s younger brother. The actor knows his looks are completely dissimilar to Danny’s. “Looks do not matter in the film industry. We do not differentiate on the basis of religion, race and complexion. Even Jackie Shroff has Mongolian features, but he became such a huge star. When Amitabh came into the film industry with his long legs, people dismissed him. But he became the star of the millennium. It is only acting skills which give an actor his livelihood.”
After a gap of 27 years, Arjun will share the screen with Sunny Deol. “I acted with Sunny in my debut film Manzil Manzil. In fact, I was to star opposite Meenakshi Seshadri, but then Dimple Kapadia and Sunny were taken as the lead and I was given the villain’s role. I will share the screen with him again in Avatar.”