Paresh Rawal on why he thinks Ranbir Kapoor is like Naseeruddin Shah, demonetisation and his latest film

Abhishek Srivastava

Sep,12 2017 18:53 48 IST

The politician in Paresh Rawal is yet to be overshadowed by the actor. Clad in blue jeans and a loose shirt when I meet him at a five star hotel, it's evident that Rawal is on familiar turf. So what’s his first love these days — films or the Parliament? “Basically I am an actor so it has to be film sets, but these days I am enjoying my stint in a different way. The experience inside the Parliament is enriching. It helps one learn tricks of the world which helps me polish my craft as an actor,” Rawal says, as we settle down for a chat.

People who have interacted with Paresh Rawal will vouch for his reserve. He hardly engages with people he does not know and intracting with the press seems to be anathema. The cumulative result is that he is perceived as a snob. Is the assessment true? “If I keep appearing in front of them (people and the press) on a regular basis, they themselves will get bored of me. Rest assured, I am not media shy. People who know me and are close to me know this well that I don’t even have an iota of snobbishness. As far as perception goes, it’s difficult to win over perceptions because that’s not tangible. You can’t please everybody,” Rawal explains.

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Paresh Rawal. File Photo

Paresh Rawal has never looked back after he shot into the limelight with his menacing act in Arjun. He was handpicked for the role by director Rahul Rawail after seeing him perform in a play. Rawal, a gifted actor, excelled in virtually every role that was offered to him. He believes that this could happen only because he did not receive formal training from any school. He cites his villainous acts in Dacait, Kabzaa and Sir, which were all inspired from people he knew. “It's difficult for me to get into (the skin of) a villainous character who is an idiot. These days no one is scared of villains. Whatever make-up you apply or weapon you carry, people will never be scared of you. Behude lagte hai hum. If it’s all about portraying a behuda character, might as well make it amusing,” he reasons.

His upcoming film Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi has been compared to 2 States, but Rawal denies any similarities. He maintains that the film is a laugh riot and the Gujarati character that he plays is neither stereotypical nor caricaturish. The film also reunites him with Rishi Kapoor after almost 25 years. The last time the two shared screen space together was for Rajkumar Santoshi’s Damini. So was there a moment when the passage of time hit home? "Never," says Rawal. "Those from the Kapoor clan are such large-hearted people. I never got this feeling that I am acting with him after such a long period. He is a straightforward man.”

Currently he is also busy shooting for Sanjay Dutt’s biopic. The very mention of his co-actor Ranbir Kapoor brings a twinkle to Rawal's eyes and it's fair to conclude that the younger actor has the veteran in thrall with his acting prowess. In fact, Rawal believes that Ranbir is in the same league as Naseeruddin Shah. “An actor is known by his choices and just look at Ranbir’s choices. No one can dare stand in front of him.” He recalls: “When I was acting with Ranbir in the Dutt biopic, I got a feeling which I had experienced when I was acting with Naseer Bhai during Sir 25 years back. There is an actor in front of you to whom you reacting. The feeling was surreal and it happened after 25 years.”

Rawal is, of late, known for his acerbic tone on social media platforms. His Twitter account was in the eye of a storm when he mentioned Arundhati Roy in a tweets about Kashmir. Has his wife ever chided him to tone down his tweets? “She knows that there is no point chiding me but she also knows that I mean every word that I say or write on my social platform. I know that sometimes my style is acidic and harsh but during such cases it becomes impossible for me to keep things inside because of my anger.”

Asking him a political question at this point is irresistible. Is Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise a failure in the wake of the RBI’s announcement that over 98 percent of the Rs 500 and 1,000 notes that had been invalidated were returned?  “It’s the media that’s giving us the figure and I have yet to go through the official figures," says Rawal. "The final count is yet to be known and this will also be debated inside the Parliament.” Perhaps it's only a matter of time then, before Paresh Rawal, the politician, leaves behind Paresh Rawal, the actor.