October 8 2015
The quintessential villain, this actor once vowed never to appear in a Deepa Mehta movie until a famous Bollywood name urged him to change his mind…
By Suman Bhuchar
IT’S REALLY hard to figure out Gulshan Grover’s career trajectory – the man known as ‘Bad Man’ in Bollywood, he has enjoyed playing a range of baddies in a career spanning four decades.
But alongside this profile he has a parallel career as an ensemble actor appearing in a range of successful independent films and working with a host of non-Bollywood and studio directors.
One of those is Deepa Mehta, the Canadian-based Oscar-nominated director whose work has often caused controversy and sparked debate.
As Grover prepares to don his tuxedo and glide down the Red Carpet at the 59th London Film Festival in readiness for the ‘Thrill Gala’ Premiere of “Beeba Boys” – Mehta’s Punjabi gangsta flick www.asianculturevulture.com caught up with him to discuss his latest avatar as ‘Robbie Grewal’ the Kingpin of the Canada’s Asian mafia scene, about to be usurped by a bunch of upstarts who are called ‘Beeba Boys’.
The word, ‘Beeba’ in Punjabi means ‘Good boy’, it’s a term of affection and endearment, he explained.
“Every mother thinks my boy is a good boy – all these ‘Beeba Boys’ on the street are gangsters, so the problem they have is Grewal.”
Somewhat slipping into character, he told wwww.asianculturevulture.com: “The Kingpin is the ruling mafia boss and those boys who want to mess with somebody like me are going to have a tough time.”
His character is an ‘old style gangster’, he revealed. “I am an old style family man, going to the Gurdwara, playing golf, watching TV with my daughter and wife and running it like a business.”
The word is that this Canadian crime thriller is based on real people and real events.
The main upstart in question is Jeet Johar (played by Randeep Hooda – whose last appearance at the BFI London Film Festival was in Ketan Mehta’s “Colour of Passion” in 2008).
“Deepa Mehta is a sensitive director who has dealt with human emotions all her life and for her to do a film which has guns, bullets being fired, people dying, blood, choppers, police, this, that and the other –she’s bringing a different meaning to the sound of the gun, where it is going to resonate, in whose heart – whose emotions are betrayed and whose life is changed with this one bullet being fired into the street. It’s a very, very stylish gangster film,” waxed Grover, almost lyrically.
“My wife is being played by Canada’s first MTV host – she’s a celebrity of a sort – a woman called Monica Deol and my daughter is being played by Gia Sandhu whose name in the movie is ‘choti’(small).”
Other talent includes Waris Ahluwalia (who frequently appears in Wes Anderson’s films) and emerging actor, Ali Kazmi.
But it might never have happened because Grover, decided to have a hissy fit and never speak to Mehta, due to an incident when he was initially cast in her film “Fire” (1996) to play the husband of Nandita Das’s character, Sita – before the girl in question was ever discovered.
Coincidentally, it was Grover who introduced the young Nandita to Mehta – and the rest is history but sadly he got turfed off the film, for reasons no one can recall now.
As he himself confessed, he went around sulking for years until the Bollywood actor, Aamir Khan called him up and asked him to pull his socks up and appear in Mehta’s second film, Earth (1998) where he played Mr Singh.
“I played the role of a sardar (Sikh man) and the director who was there on that set took out such a brilliant performance from me that I completely fell in love with that director – Deepa Mehta. I had sworn never to work with her for having committed me to ‘Fire’ and then changing things but from that day I have been a great admirer of Deepa Mehta’s films and work.
Apart from “Beeba Boys”, Grover has several other films coming out shortly.
There is “Chehre” (opposite Manisha Koirala) which has been partly shot in the UK; another one “Kaun Kitne Pani Mei” is directed by Nila Madhab Panda, and is a political thriller and another forthcoming international indie flick is “UNindian” and is directed by Anupam Sharma, an Indian Aussie who used be a fixer for Bollywood films in Australia.
This is Sharma’s debut as a director and he has the Australian cricketer, Brett Lee and Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee as a divorcee Meera in Oz.
A love story develops between Lee’s and Chatterjee’s characters
“It’s a very nice film with its Australian and Indian girl romance and lots of awkwardness and humour,” he revealed.
“Everybody’s based in Australia and my character in the film is a bit of a mystery.
“I have had lots of problems with the producers because they don’t want me to talk about the film, because it’s a little mystery in the sense that once he appears it changes the entire flow of the film and things become difficult and complicated and more interesting.”
Picture (left): Gulshan Grover at last night’s premiere for Suffragette
‘Beeba Boys‘ plays at the LFF today (October 8) at 8.45pm Vue West End 7 (Leicester Square WC2H 7AL) and 9.15pm at Picturehouse Central, 20-24 Shaftesbury Ave, Piccadilly, London W1D 7DH and Saturday (October 10) 2.15pm at Odeon Leicester Square 24-26 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LQ.
- It goes on general release in Canada on October 16.