Interview on 'BADMAASH COMPANY'

1. Tell us about your character Chandu:

My name is Vir Das. I play Chandu, full form Chandan Malpani. My character is very filmy and that’s why I was attracted to him. Everybody considers me a very upmarket comedian so I wanted to play something that was very local and Mumbai and in that filmy space. So it was acting wise, a huge challenge. Chandu is very, very quick.. his pace is quick as well and at the risk of sounding boastful, Karan achieves the most success in the movie and Bulbul has the largest heart, Zing has a lot of empathy but Chandu has the most fun so that’s what attracted me to the movie! Chandu is a very filmy, very fast and very zany character. His pace is set a little higher than the others and as a character he is very endearing. He has a lot of women in the movie so it was a big acting job for me because it’s as far from my daily life as possibly can be.


2. How close is Chandu to Vir?

I think they couldn’t be more different! I’m not funny in real life. Most people see me on stage and think I am this great funny zany guy but no I’m very serious and Chandu is very funny in real life. Chandu has money. I have no such thing. Chandu has women who talk to him… I have no such thing so we are pretty far apart! So I like the role.


3. Your first reaction when you read the script and met Parmeet Sethi.

I read the script in a room full of mirrors at YRF. Firstly you are invited into the purview of YRF the fortress. Immediately you feel you may have done something wrong so you have this sheepish grin when you are reading a YRF script and I felt Adi and Parmeet were on the other side of the mirror making notes so I would kind of laugh very loudly and go haha and look at the mirror and give them a reaction. I didn’t feel like I was reading a great script. It was very fun and it went very fast. I didn’t feel the film was trying too hard in any area to be something. Not trying hard at all is something I can relate to in my life.


4. Did you have to research on your role?

Yes Parmeet told me I am too up market and urbane for this role. I watched a lot of Anil Kapoor movies and Govinda and Mithun movies but I know a lot of people work from the mind set. I kind of work from the body up and the first thing is the walk – Chandu’s shoulders are a little lower and have a kind of 1980’s hero’s walk so I kind of just took it from there and yeah I watched a lot of movies.


5. Tell us about your audition:

It wasn’t an audition. I went in and I met Parmeet and he said you look a lot younger than you do in your photographs. I said okay I’ll fire my photographer and then you know we kind of connected. I know it sounds like we are dating or something but we are not! He said I know you can handle the serious parts of it, I know you are a good actor but can you handle the non serious parts? So there is something called the Bangkok lady scene in this movie. He made me read that and I was driving home and you know usually it takes something like 3-6 years from a production house I audition for and he called me back in 15 mins while I was still driving and I had the role!


6. Favorite line from the movie:

There’s this segment where Chandu sort of turns to Zing and says “Yeh kya bol raha hai saala.” I can’t explain but it’s kind of nice and I like “Madhuri ko sign karte hain mere opposite” It’s like a fantasy of mine which my character seems to have readily grasped.


7. Working with Parmeet Sethi:

Parmeet is a great man. He’s not like his onscreen persona at all. When you go in you’re probably expecting that guy from DDLJ so if you don’t get your line right he’ll beat the shit out of you with a hockey stick and all! But he’s such a gentle guy, he loves working with actors and keeps giving you cues. The way he says action is very interesting…he’ll always say action in the mood he wants you to do the scene in. So you don’t have to get into any deep discussion about “mera movitation kya hai” just listen to Parmeet’s “action” to get an idea of the mood of the scene and just kind of grasp that.


8. Working with the actors:

It was great..Anuskha and I had a tough time talking initially. Anuskha is about 16 feet taller than I am but once they gave me heels and they kind of brought her down and with our significant surgeries we had a great time! Chang and I are both musicians so we like having a good time together so we made sure of that. I introduced him to the guitar in this movie. Shahid is just great..we had good chemistry in the movie as Chandu and Karan – it’s important for them to have that kind of dynamic because Chandu always looks to Karan for that kind of affirmation. I like slapping Shahid on the back after a scene!


9. Styling of the film:

The hair..I went through immense pain with my hair extensions..its just 2 percent short of what prisoners in Guantánamo Bay go through. You cannot sleep at night! I essentially looked like someone from 1982 who’d had a baby from someone in 1892.I looked like a red neck as far as my clothes go.. it was just wonderful! I was wearing an acid trip on my body at all times. My jeans were incredibly tight. Women will never talk to me once they see what I have worn in the movie.. honestly I don’t know what I’ve done to my career! But what’s been done for the characters is fabulous. You know when Shahrukh cuts his hair for MNIK and everyone cuts their hair short or when John grows a stubble and wears trunks everybody does it.


10. Music of the film:

I like the music of the film… it grows on you. My favorite track is Jingle Jingle. It’s sung by Mohit who you wouldn’t expect to sing a song like that you would expect someone a little more upbeat and a little less soulful than Mohit to sing it but I’m happy he sung it for us. Badmaash Company I like, it’s got everything you need to groove to in a club. I’m a guitar player so I love the guitar hook on Ayaashi ..that sort of heavy metal distortion is nice.. it’s my space and it fit the theatrical well..these are my favorite tracks.

11. Any special off screen and on screen moment:

How I approach a character is kind of weird, my training is kind of weird that I can identify with a character with his shoulders or back muscles. So I knew Chandu would start out in the movie very tight and very animated. If you see his head it moves a lot in many parts of the movie but when Chandu gets richer and moves to America his posture kind of becomes a little looser. Also for Chandu I had to talk very fast like eat up my words, so with Chandu I became a tight ass social reject off camera. My girlfriend would look at me and say why are you talking that way? I got a lot of backache as well coz I had to wear heels and be like Chandu so that’s interesting but what I really liked was when we got to America he loosened up nicely which was kind of cool. The most memorable part of the film was that it took me back to America. I trained in America to be an actor. I left America in 2002 and there is a restaurant there called The Grand Lux Café where I was a doorman and because I did this film I could go back and eat a steak there – what I always dreamt about for 6 years because I could never afford it when I worked there. Doing a YRF film is a big big milestone in an actor’s life but to eat that steak that you always saw through a frosted window other people eating for 6 years is a bigger milestone to me.

12. Working with YRF:

Its great…and its messed it up as I don’t think any other production house will treat me as nicely. They pamper you...you get nice trailers you get great hotel rooms... your staff travels everywhere with you, you fly first class - it’s damn nice. And that’s just the pampering. There seems to be this collective spirit where you can sense very early in the film what the modus operandi for everybody doing it is. Are you doing it coz its different? Are you doing it for the script, money or it’s the place to be? But for this film, may it be the production designers or the ADs or the actors or anybody, had this sense that we are doing something because it’s special if not to the audience then definitely to us. So to be around that energy is very good for me at least. YRF seems to be the kind of place where that is encouraged very well.

13. How was it shooting broad?

If you ever consider Atlantic City, Jersey as a vacation spot go to Borivali. Its better simply because AC is the coldest, most inhumane place on this planet though it’s great for shooting and we got some great locations but its AC! Philadelphia is a great town. I had a damn good time shooting in Philadelphia. You know lots of actors watch their diet and work out but I think that’s bullshit. If you have a cheese steak you should just eat it and I ate many! Bangkok was great. Ordering room service in Bangkok is a treat coz they speak less English than my 3 year old cousin. Indian food was there too and it was edible.

14. Working with disguises:

I’ve done a lot of sketch comedy in my time. I’ve done a lot of shows where you are required to put on a lot of moustaches and beards etc etc. and that’s a lot of fun to me and to see if you can be funny through that. A lot of people who see my act call me an eyebrow actor and say that if you chopped off the eyebrows Vir would not be able to act. So when you have a full beard and so much more on your face it’s kind of interesting to see if you can act - it’s a test for an actor. Can you still be funny with limited mobility on your face? So I let myself loose with the disguises. I embraced the “tondh” (paunch) as the old man - it was just lovely! I tried to embody the smellyness and dirtyness of everybody I was playing so I think I had too much fun.

15.Have you ever pulled a real life con in your life?

Yes…it’s not something I am proud of. I had a cell phone that was disconnected and no one was ever going to ring it in the US coz I hadn’t paid my bill and I was sitting next to a very cute girl. So for some reason I pulled out my phone and started having a conversation in a fake British accent to sort of spark off a conversation like where are you from? And I would say I am from Britain and do that whole thing so we did that and we went out..and it was a great first date but we never went on a second one coz I figured I would either have to phase out the accent or get her to adopt it or do something but she was really cute so it was worth it for that one day.

16. Tell us about Ahmed Khan and the choreography:

Ahmed is great. He knows how to shoot an actor and his most important strength is that he knows how to shoot around an actor so if he knows that that you have a nose that is the size of a Concorde then he’ll put something in the foreground and block it. The music is kind of peppy so it shoots itself. I think a choreographer’s biggest strength is to know what the feel of the movie is and bring it out through the music as well. Ahmed and Shahid are best friends and they got along really well. As opposed to a lot of choreographers who will go for cool or glam etc I think he sensed how a Zing or a Chandu could be in a song so he let us kind of play with that to the music as well. And he lets us have fun with the song.

17. Tell us about Director of Photography Sanjay Kapoor:

Sanjay is outstanding. As an actor it is very very important that you make friends with your DOP like on the first day of shoot. What I like about him is that he’s managed to pull off this where it looks incredibly real and down to earth at the beginning of the film and then what it kind of explodes into a glam sort of territory. He’s a chiller. We had some steak together. He’s an intellectual, both appreciate a good glass of wine and he’s one of the people who recognizes your on film set and your life on a film set but there is life outside it also. So he’s a kind of guy I would hang with outside as well.

18. What about the music director, Pritam?

As far as Pritam goes, I met him for about 3 minutes and then grooved to his music a lot. I think he’s done a great job! He knows what people want to hear and then he gets it out. I’ve mentioned this before - I love his look…I think I will embody it at some time. It gives you artistic credibility.

19. Why should you see Badmaash Company?

Why should you see Badmaash Company? Because Shahid Kapoor is an amazing actor, he’s done a Kaminey and he’s done a Jab We Met and now tried something totally different? No! Should you see it because Anuskha is a brilliant actress and for the first time after doing a Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi she has taken that sweet girl next door avtar and wham converted it into a sexy glam no nonsense girl? No! Should you see it because it’s got Chang the Indian Idol whose a brilliant singer and he’s got a very good character etc etc? No! These are not very good reasons. You should see it coz I’m naked in the movie. THAT’s the main reason you should go see it! You’ll be sitting there in the theatre saying “oh god look at the boy in the Superman t-shirt..I truly wonder if he is a Superman everywhere.” This is your chance to find out. So forget artistic credibility, it’s there… great script, it’s there in the movie, forget great shooting - there is great shooting and there’s great acting but there is nudity - male nudity!

20. Why should you see Badmaash Company?

Why should you see Badmaash Company? Because Shahid Kapoor is an amazing actor, he’s done a Kaminey and he’s done a Jab We Met and now tried something totally different? No! Should you see it because Anuskha is a brilliant actress and for the first time after doing a Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi she has taken that sweet girl next door avtar and wham converted it into a sexy glam no nonsense girl? No! Should you see it because it’s got Chang the Indian Idol whose a brilliant singer and he’s got a very good character etc etc? No! These are not very good reasons. You should see it coz I’m naked in the movie. THAT’s the main reason you should go see it! You’ll be sitting there in the theatre saying “oh god look at the boy in the Superman t-shirt..I truly wonder if he is a Superman everywhere.” This is your chance to find out. So forget artistic credibility, it’s there… great script, it’s there in the movie, forget great shooting - there is great shooting and there’s great acting but there is nudity - male nudity!