‘Masti’ will complete 17 years of release. How do you look back at the film today?
Wow! Didn’t realise it was 17 years ago! How time flies! I look back at the film as a memorable and fun experience. A film where I made such lovely friends and my first tryst with a never-been-done before comedy genre. It’s a film that I will cherish forever!
How did you come on board for the film?
It’s quite a fascinating story as to how I came on board. Indu ji (Inder Kumar) narrated it to me, and, in fact, offered me Riteish Deshmukh’s role (the one of the henpecked husband) and even though I loved the script and thought it was hilarious, I respectfully told him that I had just done something like that in ‘Awara Paagal Deewana’ and that I would love to work with him on anything else he was working on. We parted that day, only to reconnect a few days later, when he offered me the role that I eventually played (Prem) and to which I said yes! And the rest is history.
You were known in the industry for your chocolate boy looks and boy-next-door characters. Were you sceptical when you were offered a role in this film?
I did have the boy-next-door/chocolate boy image going for me at that time but I had already dabbled with comedy in ‘Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’ and ‘Awara Paagal Deewana’ so I knew that there was a certain acceptance I had with the audience in the comedy space. Even though the adult comedy genre was new, the script and the conviction of everyone on board were so strong that I knew that it would be made well. Hence, I decided to go with it as I’ve always tried to do something different.
What were the kind of reactions that you received after the film released?
The film was very well received and the reactions were very good; as in, it was all positive. Of course, the critics panned it but it was the masses who loved the film. In fact, what was so fascinating was that even the family audiences loved it and the funniest thing I heard that husbands and wives went separately with their own groups of friends to watch it! All of us were appreciated in the film because our chemistry was spoken about very well. What was gratifying was to see that the risk paid off.
How was it working with Riteish Deshmukh and Vivek Oberoi?
It was a blast as all three of us got along from day one, no hang ups, no issues, nothing! In fact, it was so effortless that Indu ji couldn’t separate us even after he said ‘cut’. It’s been three films since then (the Masti trilogy) and he still can’t separate us. We even have a whatsapp group with just the three of us even today!
Any funny anecdotes that you can share with us from your shooting days?
Basically the whole film was so much fun to shoot that every day was memorable. I remember we were shooting the scene where the iconic line, “I have an idea, guys!” and my character Prem instigates his two friends who are also frustrated with life enough to have an affair and we were shooting nights in Marine drive in Mumbai. I had really long lines in that scene and we did quite a few rehearsals as it was a long shot on a steady camera. It turned out that we did the shot in just one take and that take has been retained and became one of the most talked about scenes in the film.
Who did you bond with the most on the sets?
I bonded with Ritesh and Vivek as we were together for most of the scenes. It was also so much fun shooting with Ajay sir who has this very serious action image but he turned out to be the most chilled out and the biggest prankster on the set so that made it even more fun. But it’s most important to mention that the person on the set who we all loved is the director Indu ji who has the craziest and funniest sense of humour and actually brought us all together so well; it made magic happen! Also, special mention to all our co stars – Tara Sharma, Genelia Deshmukh, Amrita Rao and Lara Dutta, who were so amazing to work with as well.
The film had some chartbusters. Which one is your favourite?
I think even though it’s technically a sad song in the film, but ‘Dil De Diya Hai’ by Anand Raaj Anand was pretty much everyone’s favourite as it was so beautiful and soulful. In fact, even today we get messages about that song.
How is it working with Inder Kumar?
I have done four films with Indu ji (The ‘Masti’ franchise and ‘Daddy Cool’) and it has been such an amazing experience as he’s such a wonderful person apart from being such an accomplished filmmaker. He’s someone who has had a great influence on our performances all through the ‘Masti’ series as he himself has such an impeccable comic sense. To think of it, he has made landmark films like ‘Dil’, ‘Ishq’ and ‘Beta’, it’s truly been a privilege to work with him.
Indian audience has become more accepting in terms of genre and content. How do you look at this change, as an actor?
I think as the audiences are evolving, newer genres are being experimented with and are working as well. I have always maintained that the audiences are very smart and they really dictate what works and what doesn’t. Never take them for granted. As an actor, it’s a very exciting time as one can now experiment with various subjects/genres without the fear of getting typecast or being slotted.
I am currently shooting for the second season of the show ‘Special Ops’ with Neeraj Pandey sir and it’s such a delight working with him. I’ve always wanted to work with him and this is a great collaboration. Also, Kay Kay Menon sir whose talent and work I’ve admired for a long time. There’s also Aadil Khan in it, who debuted with ‘Shikara’ in 2020, who’s a wonderful talent as well. Besides that, I have a few things lined up and will speak about them in time.