Ashish... you have 2 releases in 2 weeks (Daddy Cool and Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal).How does it feel?
Its very exciting...2 films of mine are releasing within 6 days of each other (Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal) is releasing on Thursday 3rd Sept). Until these two films I have never had butterflies in my stomach. I always treated acting as a hobby since I even had a parallel business of my own. However over the last 6 months, I have become more and more serious towards my acting assignments and it's become more of a profession than a hobby. This is the first time I am getting the butterflies in my stomach. Fortunately or unfortunately two of my films are coming together. I don't really know if it's a good thing or a bad thing but the best part is that they are totally different films. One of them (Daddy Cool) is what I do a best- a multi-starrer comedy and the other one (Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal) is something which I have never done before- an intense role in a thriller.
As you said, Daddy Cool is a multi-starrer comedy, how was it working with such an ensemble cast of some of the best comic talents?
I was fortunate that I had worked with most of them before. Anna (Sunil Shetty) was with me in my first film Qayamat, I also starred in his home production EMI. I remember watching his films Balwaan, Mohra etc as a young boy and was in awe of his physique. Today for me to be sharing screen space with him and standing shoulder to shoulder is a special feeling. Javed is one of the most talented actors and I have been a fan of his comic timing right since his Channel V days when he was a VJ. Chunky is again superb when it comes to comedy, his film Aankhen was among my favorite films during my younger days. I am truly lucky to have got a chance to work with this gang and especially the makers Indra Kumar and Ashok Thakeria who I feel are the masters of this genre of cinema. They gave me Dhamaal which was a turning point in my career and I am always grateful to them.
Considering it a mad-cap comedy there sure must have been many funny moments on the sets. What was the funniest moment on the sets?
The funniest moment by far was when we pulled a prank on Aarti Chabria. Usually women are the target for such pranks and poor Aarti was our bakra this time around. We had one of our guys pose as an interviewer and asked Aarti her views on the whole cheer-leader controversy that had sprung up during the IPL. She said that it was unnecessarily being hyped and saw no harm in cheerleaders being around. Then we had another guy talking in Marathi acting as a president of a political party asking her how she could be so careless towards such a serious issue. He started threatening her to take back her comments. Poor Aarti didn't know what hit her and got tensed and started crying. She was almost about to call the cops for protection when we broke out the news that it was a prank. She was mighty pissed with all of us but I must say that she was by-far the easiest one to fall for our tricks and Anna, myself and the rest of the gang had a blast pulling a prank on her
Coming to Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal ...it's quite an interesting title....could you tell us a little bit about the film?
Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal is an intense film about a couple who let in a stranger into their house and how their life changes after that. I play the guy who enters their house as a PG. As for the title, I believe Three-Love, Lies, Betrayal is a title that has a lot of intrigue and curiosity value attached to it. The film was initially called Purple Lake but we felt that it may not give the audiences the exact idea of what the film is all about. In case of Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal, the tagline of the film pretty much sums up the experience... 'Two lived happily...they let in a stranger...now Three live in danger'.
From the looks of it, you seem to be playing a negative character. What made you say yes to this role?
Yes...I won't deny that it's a role with negative shades but there's a lot more to the character. The credit goes to Vikram Bhatt for having faith in me that I could pull of this role. He was the one who told me to not just stick to doing comedy roles and try something different. In fact, I first started out playing a negative character in my T.V. serial and even won a lot of appreciation for that. However it just so happened that in films, I got more popular for my comic roles. Thanks to Vikram and the director Vishal Pandya, I have got an opportunity to once again showcase my mean side in Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal. When I read the script, I was completely floored and there was no way I was going to let go of this opportunity.
Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal is directed by Vishal Pandya who is making his debut. How has he done for his debut flick?
Vishal is a young boy but has been working as an assistant with Vikram Bhatt for a long time now. He is one of Vikram's most entrusted guys. When Vikram first told me that Vishal would be directing Three- Love, Lies, Betrayal, I was a bit nervous. I even asked Vikram to be on the sets. But after the first day's shoot, I realized that this young boy is a bundle of talent. He executed the intense scene so brilliantly that I told Vikram now it doesn't matter if you are present or not present on the sets. I am very happy with his work and the fact that he made me explore the other side of me through this role.
You are paired opposite Nausheen Ali Sardar who is a big star on the small screen but is making her big screen debut. How was it working with her?
When I was told that Nausheen would be starring in this film, I had a few thoughts in my mind. I wondered where she was all this while after Kkusum and would she be all right for this role? But when I spoke to my director, he told me that she was busy doing theatre for three years and had been receiving a lot of appreciation for her performances in plays. I then started gaining a lot of respect for her. In this film, she is the only female lead, so but obviously it's a very important role for her. She has given a fabulous performance and indeed suits the part very well.
The thought of allowing a stranger into your house is quite an eerie feeling. Would you ever do such a thing in real life?
Never...never....never (laughs) that's the mistake these guys (Akshay and Nausheen) make in the film but lots of people do it in our country. We as a nation believe in the philosophy of Athithidevo Bhava and say that Mehman Bhagwan Hota Hai...I too believe in these things but let me tell you that I am far from being Bhagwan in this film.
6 releases last week and Three the coming week, do you think audience has the time and money to watch so many films?
Definitely they don't have the time and money to watch all the films...Recession is also going on but today's audience is smart. They are going to take a pick and watch the one that interests them most. After the multiplex strike, there has been a backlog of films ready for release so there is bound to be competition every single week. In fact bigger films are all set to release every week from now onwards. One can't be worried about these things. I am not worried. I just feel that good films work. It's very important for a lot of films to do well since that's the only way the industry can benefit. So I wish well for all the films and not just my film.
Finally, what's next on your agenda after Daddy Cool and Three-Love, Lies, Betrayal?
I have completed Ravi Chopra's Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai with Govinda; I am also wrapping up UTV's Season's Greetings this month which is yet another multi-starrer comedy. I am starting Double Dhamaal (the much awaited sequel to Dhamaal) in exactly 25 days with the complete same cast. I am also doing one more film with Vikram Bhatt which should start sometime in November. It's a mystery horror and Vishal Pandya would be directing this film too.