“I love coffee, but I have never had it with Karan,” says Chunky Panday, as he talks candidly about his three-decade journey in Bollywood
It is difficult to stay in business in Bollywood, and staying relevant is far more challenging. But for Chunky Panday, who has spent over three decades in the industry, this is all a part of the game. “I realised after my stint in Bangladeshi films (1995-97) that everyone in the Indian film industry is dispensable. As an actor you need to be like a phone, and have to keep updating yourself constantly,” says Chunky, whose next two films, Jawaani Jaaneman and Vikun Taak, are slated to release on January 31.
Jawaani Janeman, which stars Saif Ali Khan and Tabu in lead roles, will be Chunky’s first Hindi film this year, while Vikun Taak is his Marathi debut. In the former, he plays a role that’s inspired by the late Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy magazine. “Jawaani Janeman is Saif ’s story. He is like one of those middle-aged men who isn’t married and behaves like a 25-year-old, leading a high life. I own a nightclub in the film and my character is like that of Hugh Hefner. Saif ’s character aspires to be like me. I really enjoyed playing this flamboyant role,” offers the actor.
In the Marathi film, Chunky plays an Arab. It doesn’t come as a surprise, because the Housefull actor effortlessly slips into roles that are inspired by foreign characters. “Whether it was Aakhri Pasta in the Housefull films or the Nepali guy (Rana Jang Bahadur) in Apna Sapna Money Money...? I add my own twist to such roles. Portraying them with perfection is very boring for me. So what I do is, I end up making a cocktail of such characters. Which means, I add Bengali traits to a Nepali character, and if I play an Italian, I put a little bit of Pathan into it. So I added a few characteristics of a Maharashtrian in this role as an Arab. The accent of my characters isn’t perfect... And that’s the reason why they work,” he says.
Even though Chunky has portrayed some of the most absurd yet comical roles in his career, in recent times, the actor has established himself as a sought-after antagonist ever since he played the role of Kabir in Begum Jaan. His subsequent two outings as the villain in Prassthanam and Saaho consolidated his position in the industry further.
When asked what draws him to such characters, the actor reveals, “I enjoy doing negative roles and playing a villain. My mother always thought that something was wrong with me because since my childhood, I always rooted for the bad guy. I always wanted Mogambo (from Mr India) and Gabbar Singh (from Sholay) to w i n . I h ave a lw ay s clapped for and cheered the Joker and Penguin (from DC Comics) and Thanos (from The Avengers). When I got a chance to play Kabir in Begum Jaan, it was so exciting that I shaved my head for that role. I am not a hero worshipper, I am a villain worshipper.”
While the seasoned actor has had a great 2019, Chunky’s daughter Ananya Panday too has made an impressive entry with two big films — Student Of The Year 2 and Pati Patni Aur Woh. However, her success also came with a share of trolls on social media. The first time Ananya was trolled was when she posted a picture of herself with her dad and called him ‘Tony Stark’. The second time that she was criticised for being a star kid was when she commented that she had to struggle because her father was never a guest on Koffee with Karan.
However, Chunky thinks that making mistakes and getting trolled is part of growing up. “I love coffee, but I have never had it with Karan,” he says with a laugh. The actor adds further, “I am not defending my daughter but maybe she wanted to say that I don’t have such a close relationship with Karan. She’s young, she just turned 21. I know she will make mistakes. We all have made mistakes. She will learn, and because she is so young, she will have a chance to correct her mistakes. It is so professional in the industry today that you can reach the door, but getting into the door has become very difficult because there is so much talent in the country.”
Chunky concludes with encouraging words for Ananya. “I am very proud of my daughter. She started the initiative called So Positive (against social media bullying on the occasion of World Social Media Day on June 30, 2019), and I think we should use the social media platform in a positive way,” he says.