'I was not interested in becoming an actor'
Gippy Grewal in a casual conversation talks about his recent release Lucknow Central and his accidental journey into filmdom. Excerpts:
Lucknow Central has just hit cinemas. How excited are you about your second film in Bollywood?
Well, you might as well call it my first film (Laughs). The reason I agreed to do this film was because I thought it was a very good film. There was good production house backing it, there are some great names attached to this project and it's a good film. So I am very excited.
I was also very excited to work with Farhanji (Akhtar). There are very few actors in the industry, who do different things, and Farhanji is one of them. Also, I really liked the concept of the film. I play a Punjabi character called 'Parminder Singh', and I believe my existing audience will also feel ki yaar yeh apna hi banda hai, unko bhi acha lagega aur role bhi acha hai. I would also like to add that I learned a lot while shooting for this film.
What did you learn?
Every industry and every director has their own way of functioning, their own style and techniques. So being a director myself, I learnt a lot from my director on this film. Then we did workshops for this film; back in Punjab, we don't do workshops. Toh humne yahan aake sikha workshops kaise hote hai. As for working style… people here do lots of rehearsals whereas we don't. But it helps a lot during the final shoot. Thanks to the rehearsals, I always knew how my co-actor was going to react – how Deepak (Dobriyal) would react, how Farhanji would react, during the final shot. Plus due to the workshops and rehearsals, we bonded very well and it all translated well on screen. All these exercises improve a film.
Lucknow Central has an ensemble cast, whereas you are a superstar in Punjab. Did you have any apprehensions about being a part of a multi-starrer film, that you could get overshadowed by the other actors?
No, I never felt like that. I am also a writer and a director myself and I understand the importance of getting to play a good character. In fact, when I was offered the lead in Carry On Jatta, after listening to the narration, I asked my director if I could play the role of the hero's elder brother as I felt he had a more powerful role, even though that role demanded a character artiste.
There are many films like these, where the other characters are more powerful than the hero and they make a stronger impact than the lead does. For example, in Hera Pheri, although the film's hero is Akshay Paaji, who is excellent, Paresh Rawal's role in the film was stronger. Toh woh hote rehta hai. For me, what is important is that jitna bhi mera part hai, I make an impression with that and the audience should overall like your film.
Was Bollywood always on the cards or did it just happen?
Main unn logon mein se hoon joh by mistake actor ban jate hai. I was not even interested in becoming an actor in Punjabi cinema. Matlab mujhe pata nahi tha ban jaunga mein and game yahan tak aayegi woh bhi nahin pata tha. My interest was primarily in Punjabi songs, and I wanted Punjabi films to pick up my songs. Luckily, my work on the music front started getting better and, by chance, films mili gayi. Aage aage cheeje badti gayi. I never thought about it, automatically sab hota gaya. Honestly, it was never a dream, and never such a big dream.
What were your expectations from Lucknow Central?
When I signed the film, the basic thought was that this is a very good film. I believe this film should do good business because it has good content. I have seen that if a film's content is good, it picks up and does decent business. It is one of those films you feel should be made.
I have a couple of Punjabi films, including Subedar Joginder Singh, Carry On Jatta 2 and Manje Bistre 2; I am also listening to a few more scripts.