Arshad Warsi was only 18 years old when he lost his father to bone cancer. Two years later, he lost his mother as well. Arshad was in 10th standard when he lost all his parents’ property to the tenants who occupied it. He had to drop out of school and start earning. At the age of 17, he became a door-to-door salesperson who would sell cosmetic products. And, as he discovered his love for dancing, he became a choreographer. He was later spotted by Jaya Bachchan and got offered a role in Tere Mere Sapne. And so, his journey as an actor began in the city of dreams.
In his more than two-decade-long career, Arshad Warsi has seen many ups and downs.
Even after proving his mettle as an actor, for eight months after Munnabhai, the movie post which Circuit became a household name, he had no work, he had said.
“Nobody offered me a film. So I was wondering if people liked my work, why I don’t have a movie in hand. I asked Raju Hirani did I do a good job? He said, I was excellent. Then how come I did not have a film in hand,” he had told PTI.
After Shah Rukh Khan denied the role of Jolly, Subhash Kapoor offered the movie to Arshad Warsi, and the rest, as they say, is history. Jolly LLB was one of a kind movie ever made in Bollywood. Being a light-hearted satirical take on India’s judicial system, the movie struck a chord with the audience.
After the grand success of Jolly LLB, the makers thought of making a sequel Jolly LLB2. And, sadly, this time they wanted to cast a big star, not Arshad Warsi, in the lead role.
Yes, as per the sources, after the success of Jolly LLB, Arshad Warsi was signed for Jolly LLB 2, only to be replaced by Akshay Kumar later. The man, of course, expressed his disappointment on the same without fear.“I am not doing it… Akshay is doing it. I was supposed to do it, but fox star studios needed a bigger star, so they chose Akshay” – That’s what he told IANS.
But, Arshad being a big-hearted human being, congratulated the cast of the movie after Jolly LLB 2’s trailer was released.
Thankfully, now Akshay Kumar and Arshad Warsi have both been roped in for Jolly LLB 3. And going by his statement, Arshad Warsi still has a fear he might be kicked out. When asked if he is a part of the movie, he said, “That’s what I heard. That’s what I’ve been told.”
He even joked that Jolly LLB 2 would have still been a hit had the makers not signed Akshay Kumar. He further said that the movie would have done even better in terms of business had they cast him and Boman Irani in it.
“I think, let’s be honest, if Boman and me were there in Jolly LLB 2, it would’ve still done a 100 crore. And they would’ve still made more money because they would not be paying us as much as they paid Akshay (laughs). It was a bad move, actually. So, bad move. Actually, Fox (producers) would’ve made more money with Boman and me (laughs),” he was quoted as saying by ZoomTV.
“Unfortunately, in the profession of acting, acting is the least important thing and that’s the sad part,” he was quoted as saying by Times Now.
Though in the ’90s Arshad Warsi played roles in cheesy films including Hero Hindustani, Betaabi and Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet, in 2000s, he began a new phase of his career proving his versatility. With movies like Dhamaal or Salaam Namaste or underrated movies such as Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye and Seher, Arshad Warsi has always done justice to his roles.
Be it playing a drunkard or a gangster or a sidekick or a funnyman, when Bollywood offered him distinct roles, he made them all memorable with his spectacular performances.
In Ishqiya, Arshad’s performance was at par with Naseeruddin Shah and he got an equal screen time too. Be it his villainous character of Mahendra Fauji in Zila Ghaziabad or a journalist in Kaabul Express, Arshad has nailed every role. In Golmaal series, he definitely stood out taking us all on a laughter ride with his crazy yet funny antics.
But the question persists – did he ever get his due as an actor?
It’s high time Bollywood recognises his talent. More than the audience, it’s time that filmmakers give him his due.