Chunky Panday is our guest on #BigInterview this week. Like always, he’s hilarious and frank. ETimes gets talking to Chunky about his entire career, several anecdotes behind the scenes with stars like Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff, and lots more. This interview is more to be seen (video embedded) and read (in the text below) than we describing it to you beforehand. It’s just unmissable!
Here’s the conversation:
Let’s first touch upon the bathroom incident with Pahlaj Nihalani which led you to get your debut film ‘Aag Hi Aag’. You haven’t spilled the details…
That was really weird how it all panned out. I was struggling to untie my naada in the bathroom of a 5-star as it had got a knot. I had made quite a big fuss about it, when Pahlaj Nahalani who was present there, helped me to untie it. He casually asked me what I do and frankly, I didn’t even know he was the big producer who had launched Govinda. But when I told him that I was a model who was looking for a break in movies, he just stunned me by saying that I should come to his office the next day and he’ll see if anything can be done in that regard. Till then, I had gone through many auditions, which included the likes of Ravi Chopra’s Mahabharata for TV and N Chandra’s film for Rajshri Productions.
Well, I was signed up for ‘Aag Hi Aag’ in a jiffy. The first day of shooting was equally eventful as I decided that I should take the autographs of all my co-actors; my niece Karishma had asked me to get them. But my make-up man stopped me, saying, “Sir, what are you doing? You are the hero of this film.”
So, you didn’t get her the autographs?
(Smiles) Not wanting to disappoint my niece, I faked a few signatures and went home with them at the end of the day to give it to her.
How come you went into the industry with the name ‘Chunky’?
‘Chunky’ is my pet name and Pahlajji wanted to change it. He didn’t even want my real name ‘Suyyash’. He went up to his kids and asked them for suggestions. When he returned, he said they had told him to go with ‘Chunky’ only, they seemed to have quite liked the name.
You said you had undergone many auditions before you met Pahlaj. Why were you facing rejections? Did they tell you anything?
They told me that I wasn’t suited for those roles, which I think is very normal. Surely, I can’t do every role in the world. Plus I had taken it very well in my stride; you are always energetic and positive in your youth. Moreover, don’t rejections happen in a way even when an actor’s film fails at the box-office or his performance is criticised?
In my young age, I have sold second hand cars, marble and home furnishings to fend for myself
You are the son of a renowned heart surgeon, (late) Dr Sharad Panday. Didn’t Daddy come and say during the rejections period, ‘Enough is enough, please move on to something else’?
(Laughs). No, I think my parents saw it in me that I will become an actor. I tried to become a doctor but could not. I was average in studies, plus you need a lot of dedication if you decide to pursue a career in medicine. Woh mere mein nahi tha. But beech mein, I had kept doing something or the other. I was selling marble, second hand cars, home-furnishing. Also, I was modelling. So, I was getting money to keep myself going. And then came that call!
I love to be called as ‘Ananya’s father’
‘Aag Hi Aag’ had released and my Dad called me at the lunch break from his conference in Delhi. He said, ‘I am so proud of you Chunky. I have been introduced here as your father’. It felt so good, let me be honest that I had the pressure from relatives and family friends to follow in my father’s footsteps, they would ask Bada hoke tu bhi doctor banega na?. That call made me understand I had made my father proud. Today, I feel the same when I am called ‘Ananya’s father’. It’s a great feeling for any parent.
The second film you signed was ‘Paap Ki Duniya’. Didn’t it bother you that you would play second fiddle to Sunny Deol?
Multi-starrers were the in-thing those days. Films which had solo leads came to the fore only after 1991-92. Remember, I wasn’t solo in ‘Aag Hi Aag’ as well, in fact, sandwiched between two superstars Dharmendra and Shatrughan Sinha. And didn’t I quickly do even ‘Tezaab’ which had Anil Kapoor opposite Madhuri Dixit? ‘Paap Ki Duniya’ did good for Sunny and he went places after that. But importantly, I had a great time working with him; he may be a shy person but he’s very easy to work with. So even after that, I did films with him like ‘Lootere’ and ‘Vishwatma’. The second fiddle aspect never came to my mind. I have only bothered whether I have a few good scenes in a film or not. If yes, the audience remembers you. And if a film does well, doesn’t everyone tend to benefit from it?
You are the effervescent guy, while Sunny is the reserved type. Any fun incident between you two?
I remember we were flying back from Nairobi after the ‘Vishwatma’ shoot was over. I had purchased a lot of cigarettes from Nairobi. I had gone to sleep, when somebody woke me up and informed me that Sunny was distributing cigarettes on the flight. Now Sunny doesn’t smoke and even though I had many in my bag, I thought I must still get my share. It was only when the plane touched the runway that I realised that Sunny had flicked my cigarettes to distribute. I freaked out. He came up and told me ‘You should be kind. You must always share’.
I quickly went ahead and stood outside the aircraft to collect all my cigarettes from each of those whom Sunny had given. So Sunny may be an introvert but not with people he starts knowing well, he can then be great mischief and fun.
Any memories with Madhuri during ‘Tezaab’?
No, but one in ‘Khilaaf’ stands out. I had to lift a snake in a scene and throw it aside. I was extremely scared, when Madhuri came forward and did the needful.
I stopped getting meaty roles after ‘Aankhen’
What happened after ‘Aankhen’ which released in ’93? After that, I see a lot of films in your filmography which I don’t know whether they got released or not…
After ‘Aankhen’ I did ‘Teesra Kaun’ with Partho Ghosh and N N Sippy, followed by a couple of films. At this point, the industry was changing. Solo hero films were coming in vogue and multi-starrers were on their way out, but the offers I got during this time were not meaty. So, I began to ask myself if it would be worthy to accept such roles? And then, I decided to move to Bangladesh. My first film did very well there and I got back to multi-starrers in Bangladesh too, they hadn’t faded away from there. It went for about 7-8 years like that. But yes, let me tell you some things about ‘Tezaab’.
We were shooting for ‘So gaya yeh jahan’ song at night at Marine Drive and Anil and I decided to go for a bite. When we entered the hotel, the manager first wanted to know if he could call a doctor for us. We were bewildered at his question and he pointed out at our blood-stained faces. Of course, it was all make-up but he didn’t know it. And then, ‘Ek do teen’ was supposed to be the famous marathi number ‘Java Navin Popat Ha’ but it was I who told N Chandra (director) that we had already shot it for ‘Paap Ki Duniya’. Post that, they eventually zeroed down on ‘Ek do teen’.
Bhavna is the only girl I ever wanted to get married to
You did a good job in Bangladesh. What made you come back?
Bhavna (who is Chunky’s wife now) drove it in my head that I should return as people love me here a lot. Bhavna and I had been dating for nearly 18 months and she said ‘Let’s rather get married instead of wasting money so many times on me coming there and you coming here’. We got married. I had met her through some common friends in one of my visits to Delhi. She was the only girl I ever wanted to get married to.
Uske baad, I started going to producers in Mumbai. Baweja gave me ‘Qayamat’, Ram Gopal Varma gave me ‘D’, Venus gave me ‘Ellaan’, Subhash Ghai gave me ‘Apna Sapna Money Money’. But things really turned around when Sajid Nadiadwala offered me ‘Housefull’. Before that, let me tell you something very funny about Gulshan Grover.
Gulshan hadn’t shaved his moustache for 10 years when we started on ‘Vishwatma’. The maker, Rajiv Rai, wanted him to do away with his moustache. I had to take him out for dinner and explain to him. And I myself cut his moustache!
The monkey in ‘Aankhen’ was more expensive than Govinda and I put together
You did a few films with Govinda, who is very funny….
Oh, we had a blast shooting for ‘Aankhen’. The film’s maker, Pahlaj Nihalani, had a monkey in that film, who was absolutely crazy, he would even bite. He was put up at a Juhu 5-star hotel and six people had brought him from abroad. Those 6 people needed 4 bottles of whisky every night. So, that bandar proved to be more expensive to Pahlaj than Govinda and I put together. And yes, we were jealous of that bandar because he was apparently paid more than us. But it was worth it, I guess because he was also responsible for the big success of the film.
After you got married, we never heard any rumours about you linking you up with any Bollywood actress. Yeh kaise hua?
I think I must be too good to have not got caught.
I have never been attracted to any actress I’ve worked with
I was just about to ask you: Were you a smooth operator or an extremely loyal husband?
Hmmm… I have never been attracted to people I have worked with. All my co-actresses have been my great friends but there was never any attraction. Maybe I have been a very good boy (laughs).
Over to ‘Housefull’ which brought you back in the limelight with the role of Aahkree Pasta…
Yup. And there’s an interesting story behind this one too. Actually, the film’s producer Sajid Nadiadwala had met me in the US when he was shooting for ‘Kambakht Ishq’ and ordered a very expensive suit for me for a cameo appearance. But later, we realised that I won’t be able to shoot as I didn’t have the Work Visa. Nadiadwala asked me to keep the suit with me because he soon wanted to utilise me in one of his forthcoming ventures. Then, I happened to meet the Housefull director Sajid Khan at a party. He broached the idea of me being in the film and it all just fell into place very quickly.
I will never forget one incident with Akshay. Now, Akshay is known as the George Clooney of India. There’s a scene in ‘Housefull’ where he threatens to jump off. People were watching from below but many asked me where’s the George Clooney of India. I told them that it’s me. I started signing autographs, pronto. When Akshay came down, he asked me why there’s so much commotion around me. And I told him what I had done (laughs).
You pulled a fast one on Akshay, while Sunny pulled a fast one on you. What about Akshay Kumar pulling one on you during the ‘Housefull’ franchise?
God! Akshay and the Housefull gang went for dinner and Akshay was supposed to treat us, I went to the washroom before the bill was supposed to be paid. I returned and found that Akshay had led them off and there was nobody around. I hadn’t carried money or my debit/credit card, in fact I had forgotten my wallet in the hotel room. I thought abhi to bartan maanjne padhenge. Thankfully, they all came back after 10 minutes or so.
Anything that transpired between Jackie Shroff and you?
Jackie has a scene in ‘Housefull’ where I am shown as a wax statue wearing briefs. When I saw the rushes I asked Nadiadwala how the briefs had gone shorter. Some special effects had been done obviously. And you know what he said albeit jocularly? He asked me to keep quiet else he would eliminate the briefs.
What about your pranks with Bhavna, Ananya and Rysa at home?
Don’t ask! There’s a terrible thing I did. I had shaved off my head and grown a white beard for ‘Begum Jaan’. These three weren’t in the city and I had flown out to be with them. I took the key and entered the room. I can’t describe the fright on their face, they couldn’t fathom who had entered their room when it was locked. And they were so scared that something could have happened to them.
There are miles to go before I’ll sleep
Are you much more at peace today- you started off with a bang, you went to Bangladesh, you returned, you asked for work until ‘Housefull’ happened?
Yes, I am at peace. I am also loving to play the negative characters, which began for me from ‘Begum Jaan’ followed by ‘Saaho’ and the web show ‘Abhay 2’. But there are miles to go before I’ll sleep. I think I should keep trying for more, I think I can do much more.
I feel that not just you but even Jackie Shroff should be utilised for bigger roles. Filmmakers can justify casting you’ll in brief roles till the cows come home but I beg to differ with what is being offered to you two…
(Smiles) And, would you believe that I haven’t yet won a single award? I had stopped the shoot of ‘Do Matwale’ with Sanjay Dutt in Goa. I had flown down for the award ceremony feeling sure that I would get it as I had been nominated for ‘Tezaab’. I have been nominated on occasions but every time I was ditched at the altar. Anyway, I would swap any award for the film to be a hit. Public acceptance adds several years to an actor’s life.
Source From : Times Of India