The Pioneer’s Shikha Duggal spent the day with Chunky Panday, while he was relaxing in Doha after watching a fantastic football match with his kids to learn more about his emerging vogue in south cinema now!
Chunky Panday has not only conquered Bollywood with his films, but he also has his own craze in Bangladesh.His latest movie, Sardar, showed how he can be a hell of a baddie too. He’s been in the business for over 30 years and has made over $400 million at the box office. We spent the day with Tezaab fame while he was mitigating in Doha after watching a fantastic football match with his kids to learn more about his emerging vogue in south cinema now!
“There were no strategic moves planned to seep into the south market; all the offers are pouring in by chance. The beginning is from Begum Jaan. Look for me opposite Vidya Balan, Saaho director! For the first time, my rough appearance piqued the interest of a filmmaker, which surprised me. Because the character in Sardar becomes an anti-hero by chance, the director of the respective movie visualised me with the help of my older projects from the 1990s. I was playing a mad villain for Tamil cinema!” he said.
Struggling for almost three years to get a film and having the first one come through interaction in the bathroom is not only bizarre for Chunky but also hilarious. And, with the age of experience, he feels there is no formula to the cinema, no apt permutations and combinations that can bring you fame. He continued, “There will be hits and misses. My career blockbuster, Aankhen, would not have done as well if it had been released last year as it did in the 1990s because times change. Playing antagonist roles now doesn’t bring any gloom around me; the worst of the worst villains also need not justify themselves since it’s a character-driven role for a film.”
With no work in his hands for a certain period of time, the profession taught him something very useful: “Failure is the easiest accident to handle because nobody is interested in you for that moment, whereas success is very difficult to hold on to! I started with a bang and then couldn’t hold on to my prosperity. Several of the films I signed were probably bad choices! In fact, I confess, I did become gluttonous for money.
I fell for multi-starter scripts because, unlike other stars, these scripts were actually working for me. After 1994, ensemble cast films ceased and solo heroes began to appear, ushering in the musical chairs that I witnessed in this industry. I didn’t have a chair to sit on! That’s when I went to Bangladesh and came back with the thought that I am no longer a superstar — just here in films to play character roles. I stopped fooling myself.”
Vijay Sethupathi’s Super Deluxe basically made him fall for Tamil cinema. “The filmmaker was least judgmental about his characters. Following that, I began binge-watching South films for entertainment purposes. I noticed how a solo filmmaker is able to connect interrelated themes with such ease. But I refrain from watching these movies to master how the southern cinema works since it starts to lack variety for me then. Your subconscious is on the roll anyway,” he added. He also admitted further in the interview that his wife, whom he calls a rare and beautiful woman in his life, gave him a reality check too!
“I feel contrite about not winning an award until now; that phase disturbs me a lot sometimes. Then I realised that it’s not a medal that every star has to win — I have box office collections coming in; what could be better than that? Award functions are organised because they are a way of celebrating our contribution to the cinema. I have never shied away from attending any award function, despite some of my peers making fun of it. They didn’t understand I was there to participate in their celebration of success!”
Taking us back to the sets of Saaho, he expressed, “There were so many actors on the sets. From Bollywood to Tollywood, the arena was full.To me, Prabhas was the deal-sealing factor! When I saw him in Baahubali, his enigma pulled me towards Saaho. When the director was narrating the script to me, there was excitement about Prabhas helming the film, and my character tickled something inside me for the first time. Moreover, the comparison of Saaho to Baahubali was an achievement in itself.”
Always surrounded by the influential families of Bollywood, the bitterness of any other actor’s success never touched Chunky Panday. That’s just how he is! He said, “Just after my arrival in the cinema, Govinda took over. I was observing lapses in my career, and I started to take it for granted too. I saw Shah Rukh going faster than me, and I couldn’t catch up with the new set of boys that came in after my arrival. I totally blame myself; I felt there was something lacking in me. Today, I enjoy watching Shah Rukh Khan’s stardom across the globe; that’s just how I function. I can never hold resentment against him.”
Now taking us to the sets of Sardar, he explained how the makeup artists represented evil: “The whole transformation was startling to me too. It was a figment of the director’s imagination, and he did an excellent job of designing it. Because the director was too particular about my beard, we won half the battle when the look and tone were just right. I would like to hang around as the baddie for a while but don’t typecast me again.
A superstar can continue to be famous only if he has a superior aura around him or if he or she is unpredictable on screen. Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor, and actors like these inspired me while beginning to take up the role of antagonists! They were a mix of both; they did comedy in one movie and played a villain in the other, and that’s just how my career graph has been too.”