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On a roll

Meet Arshad Warsi - the real life hero of the rags-to-riches story

Photo: Satish. H

THERE WAS a time when Arshad Warsi's financial standing was dangerously hovering between imminent bankruptcy and absolute financial disaster. He was selling lipstick and nail polish in buses between Borivelli and Bandra, then.

An orphan at 14, Arshad Warsi is a self-made man. "I knew just one dream, I had to become rich. How? No clue," the actor goes on a flashback. "I was doing all sorts of odd jobs to keep myself alive on the streets of Mumbai. At that time, to own a house, travel in cars and eat more than mere salt-rice seemed a pipe dream," he says with a wry smile. Observation taught Arshad (who was 21 then) dance, while sheer grit and keenness won him the fourth-prize in World English Jazz Dancing Competition in 1991, London. The prize put him on a waltz, from where there was no looking back.

Catapulted into choreography, Arshad has become a familiar face in the English-theatre scene in Mumbai, and a much sought-after figure. "No show would happen without me," he prides at his rag-to-riches fate. "I am proud because I earned it," he says straight-faced.

Film-offers came by naturally. "I never thought I would have to act to take home my dreams. But people said I was good in Tere Mere Sapne." Then what backfired the follow-ons after his debut?

"I was a novice in films. Marketability is as important as marketing oneself in this field, and I made a mistake." But damage was already done and Arshad's image suffered badly at the B.O with a spate of flops like Betabi and Mere Do Anmol Ratan.

The B.O buzz does not bother him much, although he says, "I am trying to fix up things with Waisa bhi hota hai - Part II." Recently in town for the promotion of his latest movie, Arshad revealed he has a couple of other movies lined up his sleeves, which include Zamanat with Amitabh Bachchan and Karisma Kapoor, and Munnabhai MBBS with Sanjay Dutt wherein Arshad plays Circuit - a madcap.

Married to MTV VJ Maria Goretti, the actor is literally on a roll with plans to settle far away in Timbucktoo, where he can ride cycle in shorts. Now that his dreams have been realised, Arshad can afford to sit back and relax.


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