Born in Mumbai on April 19, 1968, Arshad Warsi has become one of the celebrated stars of Indian cinema by creating characters that entertain and taking on films that inspire audiences around the world.
Arshad Warsi brings a lot of life experience to his characters. Here are some little-known facts about the actor:
- During his school days, Arshad was a national level gymnast.
- When he was 17 years old, the financial condition of his family forced Arshad to start working as a door-to-door salesman for a cosmetics company.
- In 1991, he won the Indian dance competition, followed by the fourth prize in the Modern Jazz category in the 1992 World Dance championship, London (at the age of 21).
- He started his own dance studio "Awesome", and formed a dance troupe.
- In 1996, Amitabh Bachchan's production company ABCL offered him his first acting role in the film Tere Mere Sapne ("Our Dreams"). He played Baalu Shastri, a slick but flat-broke cab driver whose life changes forever when he picks up an unhappy young rich man named Rahul who convinces Baalu to trade places with him.
From the moment Arshad Warsi first appeared on the screen, audiences sensed there was something special about this actor. Now with more than 40 films and multiple nominations and awards under his belt, he continues to push the envelope on trying new roles and expanding his repertoire.
If you are new to Bollywood, here are five of Arshad Warsi's performances you don't want to miss.
Comedy Films: Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. Lage Raho Munna Bhai
Release Dates: 19 December 2003 | 1 September 2006
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Music by: Anu Malik | Shantanu Moitra
Producer: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Perhaps one of the most beloved Bollywood characters of recent times is "Circuit", introduced by Arshad Warsi in the 2003 Rajkumar Hirani comedy Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. Circuit is the resourceful sidekick to gangster Murli Prasad Sharma (Sanjay Dutt) a.k.a. "Munna Bhai". To fulfill the dreams of his father, Munna Bhai decides to go to medical school. There he manages to help people in his own way while raising important questions about the medical system. Besides being a best friend and confidante, Circuit manages to find interesting solutions to all of the Munna Bhai's problems, no matter how unorthodox. In Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Circuit helps Munna Bhai pretend to be a Gandhi expert in order to woo radio talk show host Jhanvi (Vidya Balan). The film popularized the term and tenets of "Gandhism", which Munna Bhai calls "Gandhigiri". In this film, Circuit continues to support Munna Bhai's plans until a misunderstanding threatens their friendship.
In a 2006 MovieTalkies.com interview, Arshad Warsi talked about the character Circuit:
"I love playing Circuit, because he’s so funny. I mean, when I first read the script of Munnabhai MBBS I was in splits each time Circuit was there. He is truly an amazingly character."
While some worried that Arshad Warsi would be typecast in roles similar to Circuit, he has managed not to fall into a single-character rut.
Recognition: Won, Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.; Won, Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role for Lage Raho Munna Bhai; Won, IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor for Lage Raho Munna Bhai; Won, Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Lage Raho Munna Bhai; Won, Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor for Lage Raho Munna Bhai
2. SSP Ajay Kumar
Action Crime Drama Film: Sehar
Release Date: 29 July 2005
Director: Kabeer Kaushik
Music by: Daniel B. George
Producer: Ashwin Patel
Based on real-life events, the film depicts organized crime in the late 1990s in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, and how the State Police worked to tackle it. Newly appointed Senior Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar (Arshad Warsi) brings together a group of committed police officers under the aegis of Special Task Force. They bring in the expertise of Professor Bhole Shankar Tiwari (Pankaj Kapur) to leverage the rising use of cell phones in criminal activities so they can take down the crime boss and ruthless killer Gajraj Singh (Sushant Singh). In a Bollywood.com interview, he described his role as "seriously serious":
"It was an autobiographical story because I was enacting the role of Lucknow's SSP Ajay Kumar who was instrumental in bringing together a group of committed police officers under the aegis of Special Task Force. Throughout the film, I've only smiled twice, so you can imagine how serious the role was. In fact, Sehar got critical acclaim for me as an actor but did not quite work at the box office."
In 40 Retakes: Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed, Avijit Ghosh praises Arshad Warsi's performance:
"He is the definitive decent cop with the right mix of control, authority, and intelligence."
Arshad Warsi's performance as the honest, smart, and determined young SSP is authentic and one you won't soon forget.
3. Jai Kapoor
Dramatic Film: Kabul Express
Release Date: 15 December 2006
Director: Kabir Khan
Music by: Raghav Sachar, Julius Packiam
Producer: Aditya Chopra
The film is loosely based on the experiences of Rajan Kapoor and Kabir Khan in post-Taliban Afghanistan. The film takes place after 9/11. Indian television journalists Jai Kapoor (Arshad Warsi) and Suhel Khan (John Abraham) travel to Afghanistan to interview the Taliban. They hire the driver Khyber (Hanif Humghum), a proud Afghan who has seen the destruction of his country over the decades. The trip takes a unique turn when Taliban soldier Imran Khan Afridi (Salman Shahid)appears and commandeers the "Kabul Express" SUV with the three men, along with American photojournalist Jessica Beckham (Linda Arsenio).
Arshad Warsi's Kapoor brings a dose of humor to an otherwise stark drama. At one point the two journalists are blindfolded, sitting in the bed of a pickup, guarded by strangers with AK47s and Arshad Warsi reaches out to touch John Abraham on the face and arms and jokingly says "Doctor, I can't see a thing! Doctor, I can't see a thing!" At another point, he gets into an argument with the gun-toting Taliban about who is the greatest cricket player. In an Indiaglitz.com interview, Arshad Warsi discusses his experiences while filming in Afghanistan and a little about his character:
"I was going to a place which I would be going for the first and last time in my life so I just wanted to soak into everything that was there. I went out to the markets, to the streets, to the street vendors and chatted up with the people and I did everything that nobody would really do. I love the place, the people, everything over there. I was so fascinated with Afghanistan. ...I am playing a character who has a sense of humour. He’s not comical. It’s just that he has a good sense of humor and he cracks his little fatas here and there. Apart from that Kabir really wanted that light heartedness in the film because the story is so grim and serious that he wanted that aspect of comedy."
The film offers a unique and authentic travelogue of the journey of five very different people from different worlds through a war-torn country.
Crime Comedy Thriller Films: Ishqiya | Dedh Ishqiya
Release Dates: 29 January 2010 | 10 January 2014
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Music by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Producers: Raman Maroo, Vishal Bhardwaj
Two small-time crooks - Iftikhar aka Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and his nephew Razzak Hussain aka Babban (Arshad Warsi) - are always on the run from their boss Mushtaq (Salman Shahid). In Ishqiya, they meet the widow Krishna Verma (Vidya Balan) who provides them a place to stay and convinces them to kidnap for ransom the local steel factory owner. As they work to carry out her plan, both Khalujaan and Babban fall in love with Krishna. As tensions mount, Krishna reveals a secret that threatens them all. In Dedh Ishqiya, Khalujaan and Babban are separated after they heist an expensive necklace. The meet again at another widow's home - the widowed Begum Para of Mahmudabad (Madhuri Dixit) - who is holding a poetry contest to select the next Nawab of Mahmudabad and her husband. As Khalujaan and the local MLA-gangster Jaan Mohammed (Vijay Raaz) try to woo Begum Para, Babban focuses in on her assistant, Muniya (Huma Qureshi). But Begum Para and Muniya have a plan that will put the lives of Khalujaan and Babban in jeopardy.
Khalujaan is thoughtful and romantic and wears his heart on his sleeve while Babban is bold in his actions and sees things that Khalujaan doesn't. For this reason, the two men together make a perfect team. As their friendship is tested in situations that become more and more complex and dangerous, they vent their frustrations at each other - but their trust and loyalty remain resolute. In a glamsham.com story, Arshad's fondness for his character shines through:
"Really, you haven't seen someone as kameena [unscrupulous] as Babban. ...He is really smart and shaatir [cunning]. You would assume that after being caught in a tricky situation, he won't be able to come out of a situation. However, he does eventually which makes him such a lovable rogue."
Recognition: Won, Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ishqiya.
Courtroom Comedy-Drama Film: Jolly LLB
Release Date: 15 March 2013
Director: Subhash Kapoor
Music by: Krsna, Sanjoy Chowdhury
Producer: Fox Star Studios
Unsuccessful lawyer Jagdish Tyagi aka Jolly (Arshad Warsi) leaves Meerut and moves to Delhi hoping to improve his luck. He reopens a high profile case and ends up taking on prominent criminal lawyer Tejinder Rajpal (Boman Irani), the most experienced and successful lawyer in Delhi. A satire on the legal system, Arshad Warsi's Jolly fights to bring true justice back into the courtroom. Jolly is flawed, but sincere, and won't go down without a good, strong fight.
In an IndianExpress.com article, Boman Irani talked about his character, the film, and his friendship with Arshad Warsi:
"My character has grey to dark shades. He is unscrupulous, powerful and brilliant. He feels he can do what he wants. Arshad's character locks horns with mine, making it a David vs Goliath kind of a confrontation. ...[Arshad] was the choreographer of my debut play, 'Roshni', by Alyquee Padamsee. We hit it off there. We share the same sense of humour. At that point he had asked me to take up films, but I was not interested. Incidentally, 10 years later he was a part of my debut film Munna Bhai MBBS!"
Recognition: Won,BIG Star Entertainment Award for Most Entertaining Actor in a Comedy Film (Male); Won, IIFA Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role; Won, Apsara Film Producers Guild Award for Best Performance in a Comic Role
Don't know which film to watch first? The following playlist features videos for each of these films.
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