Sharjah: ‘Bad Man of Bollywood’ Gulshan Grover has masked his real character through acting for four decades in over 400 films, but on Thursday night at Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), that fascade finally slipped.
The Delhi boy, who went to the reputed Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), spoke about how he grew up in difficult financial circumstances before making inroads into the flashy world of Bollywood, all of which is detailed in his new book ‘Bad Man’ that took him seven years to complete.
Based on exemplary performances that sent chills down the spine and made him the character people loved to hate, Grover earned the tag ‘Bad Man’ after playing the role of Kesariya Vilayati, also known as Bad Man, in the film Ram Lakhan directed by the then famous Subhash Ghai who offered Grover the role after hosting him for breakfast.
Recalling the day, the veteran actor said, “Mr Ghai didn’t say anything to me during the time I was sitting in his house and eating. I kept thinking in my head, when will he broach the topic about a role in his film? Then when I was about to leave, he was seeing me off at the elevator. At that time, I brought up the topic and all he said ‘see you Bad Man’.”
While Grover reiterated, that there was no substitute for hard work, he also said the odds were stacked against him when he initially went to Mumbai, a city he had only seen in films.
“I did not look like a conventional villain. People said I wasn’t as tall and didn’t have a towering personality as the other villains of the time. But I knew I was an average guy with extraordinary determination,” he added.
As one of the first Indian actors to transition into Hollywood and international cinema, also acting in Iranian, Malaysian and Canadian films, he said, “I wanted to take my craft to the next level. Sometimes, a few openings in life, lead to greater opportunities. This was during the pre-internet era. Hollywood was unaware of our body of work and that our industry is a powerhouse of talent. Not only did I want to showcase my own talent but along the way, I wanted to represent my industry and country, so that the world recognises us, values us and respects us.”
While playing corrupt twisted characters has led to more than a satisfying career for Grover, the on screen antagonist says sometimes family has to pay a price. “Family members of actors, who play mean, bad, scary and dark roles in cinema, often have to endure a lot of things. But with time, that understanding has evolved. People increasingly understand that any role whether negative or positive, is just another form of art and creativity.”
Reflecting on the role of education and how it’s linked to acting, he added, “education is linked to everything. It teaches you to be innovative, novel and cull out your own style. Therefore, a forum like the SIBF which emphasises on the fast fading culture of reading is a reminder of simple values like to keep acquiring knowledge, be creative, remain humble and continue to work hard. Success will naturally follow you one day.”