The difficulty of being bad: Gulshan Grover

Long career: Gulshan Grover has acted in over 400 films over four decades.

Long career: Gulshan Grover has acted in over 400 films over four decades.  

Veteran actor on his favourite roles, what he’s learnt from filmi villains and his dream role in a Bond film

Gulshan Grover’s current state of mind is a slightly-on-edge-and-anxious, much akin to the Friday release feeling. One of the most popular villains of contemporary Hindi cinema, Grover has recently released a biography, Bad Man, which he’s co-written with journalist Roshmila Bhattacharya. Grover’s film career began in the early 1980s. After getting a Masters’ degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, Grover decided to leave behind all that was familiar to become an actor. Nearly four decades and over 400 films later, the actor’s fondest memories on a film set dates back to his first few films. “I’d waited for years and struggled to actually get in front of the camera to experience the life within, after and before the shot. Some of the most fantastic memories are of shooting films like Hum Paanch (1980), Rocky (1981) and Sadma (1983),” shared the actor in an interview with The Hindu.

In deciding to play the villain, Grover had the challenging task of having the audiences hate him, film after film, while effectively striking fear and anger into the hearts of the audiences. Without the intimidating personality that the yesteryear baddies had, Grover had to build his persona differently. “I had to work very hard to build that brand where people may not notice me when I walk into an event but they could not ignore me on screen,” said the actor. Taking inspiration from legendary baddies before him like Amrish Puri, Pran, Amjad Khan and Ajit, he added, “Each actor who has played the villain is truly fantastic because of the difficult job they have. I had the great honour of knowing many of the legends like Pran-ji, Amrish Puri-ji personally or I’ve worked with them. They’ve been a great source of guidance to me.”

Grover highlights Shatrugan Sinha and Vinod Khanna’s exemplary portrayal of negative characters. “Audiences would whistle and cheer for them when they were hitting the hero! You wanted to play the villain because they did it so well.” He loved Khanna in films such as Reshma Aur Shera (1971) and Sinha in Bombay To Goa (1972).

After scores of films and accolades in Hindi cinema, Grover ventured to the West and has been a part of numerous Hollywood films such as the Brett Lee and Tannishtha Chatterjee starrer UnIndian (2015) and Desperate Endeavours (2012). A self-proclaimed fan of the James Bond villains, he was supposed to be a part of the Daniel Craig-starrer Casino Royale (2006). “I am a huge fan of the Bond villains. They have panache and leave an impact. I had the opportunity to play the villain in Casino Royale but it didn’t work out. But I will someday play the Bond villain,” emphasised the actor.

Many shades of villany

As his book narrates the journey the actor has had in his impressive career, The Hindu asked him to share some of his personal favourite roles that he enjoyed playing and pat came the reply, “I can list my top 50 instead of my top five!”

Sir (1993) directed by Mahesh Bhatt starred Grover as ‘Chhapan Tikli’ along with Paresh Rawal in negative roles. The drama also starred Naseeruddin Shah in the titular role with debutante Atul Agnihotri and Pooja Bhatt in the lead. Rawal won the National Award for Best Supporting Role for Sir.

Shola Aur Shabnam (1992) directed by David Dhawan starred Grover as gangster Kali Baba and is often considered his breakout performance. A commercial blockbuster, the film had romance and action in equal measure and starred Govinda and Divya Bharti as the leads.

Ram Lakhan (1989) starring Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Gulshan Grover and Rakhee, was directed by Subhash Ghai.

Grover’s character Kesaria Vilayati or ‘Bad Man’ is widely remembered for his spine-chilling dialogue delivery and menacing unibrow. The film’s cast recently celebrated 20 years since its release and the film is widely remembered for the song, My Name Is Lakhan.

Mahasangram (1990) by director Mukul S. Anand also starred Vinod Khanna, Madhuri Dixit and Govinda in leading roles. The action-packed drama starred Gulshan Grover, in one of the few positive roles in his career, as the police inspector. Legendary villain Amjad Khan played the role of the villain in this film.

16 December (2002) starring Danny Denzongpa, Milind Soman, Gulshan Grover among others was directed by Mani Shankar. The fast-paced thriller saw Indian Intelligence agents race against time to stop a terrorist attack in the capital orchestrated by mastermind Dost Khan played by Grover.

Bawandar (2000) based on the true story of gang rape survivor, Bhanwari Devi, portrayed social evils like child marriage and crime against women. Starring Nandita Das, Raghubir Yadav, Deepti Naval, the film was directed by Jagmohan Mundhra. Grover essayed the role of a lawyer seeking justice for Sanwari (played by Das).

Deepa Mehta’s Earth (1999) is set during Partition and showcases the ramifications of the traumatic event on the lives of the different communities.

Grover played a character called Mr. Singh. The film was also India’s official entry to the Oscars that year.

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 6:09:19 PM |

Next Story