Actor Arshad Warsi, who is more popular for his comedic turns in "Munna Bhai", "Golmaal" and "Dhamaal", says the digital platform has provided him with an opportunity to play more "serious" roles. The 52-year-old actor, best known to audiences as Circuit, Man Friday to Sanjay Dutt's titular gangster in "Munna Bhai" films, said OTT gave him "Asur", an acclaimed Voot Select crime thriller, in which he played Dhananjay Rajput, a forensic expert.
"I have been waiting for so many years, I managed to get that, thanks to OTT, which is doing roles other than comedy because in cinema I was mostly getting comedy parts. OTT has offered me various serious roles, I am happy as I am doing most of them," Warsi told PTI in an interview over Zoom.
Before breaking into Bollywood, the actor used to choreograph for plays and jazz performances and is credited as a choreographer for the title track of Anil Kapoor-Sridevi-starrer "Roop Ki Raani Choron Ka Raja" (1993).
Three years later, he made his debut with Amitabh Bachchan-produced "Tere Mere Sapne" and what followed was a string of unsuccessful films like "Hero Hindustani" and "Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet".
In his 24-year-long career, Warsi has appeared in only over 50 films, he said the aim has always been to do projects he enjoys being part of.
"I am not doing too much work and people have asked me that. I work on a project that is worth working for. I need to enjoy the work I am doing and this is important for me. So I look for a script that I cannot refuse. This attitude is not carefree. I work very hard when I am into it."
It was Rajkumar Hirani-directed "Munna Bhai MBBS" (2003), a runaway hit that gave Warsi's career a much needed push.
He went on to appear in a plethora of comic roles in films like "Hulchul", "Salaam Namaste", and "Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya", besides playing more complex characters in "Sehar", "Ishqiya", and "Jolly LLB".
The actor said he has often been called an "underrated" actor, something he takes as a compliment.
"That's the reality. For me, being underrated is a compliment. I have also been told, I am not utilised. I could have done a lot more work."
Warsi is looking forward to the release of "Durgamati", which he said, gave him the opportunity to explore a new world. Directed by G Ashok, the film is a remake of his own Telugu-Tamil bilingual "Bhaagamathie" (2018), which featured "Baahubali" star Anushka Shetty.
When he takes on a remake, Warsi said, it is important for him to understand the space of the movie. In the case of "Durgamati", headlined by Bhumi Pednekar, he said he saw the original movie to understand the sensibility.
The film, slated to released on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, features Pednekar as an IAS officer alongside Warsi's powerful politician, Ishwar Prasad. It also stars Jisshu Sengupta, Mahie Gill and Karana Kapadia.
The horror thriller, backed by superstar Akshay Kumar, revolves around a government officer (Pednekar), who is made the victim of a major conspiracy involving powerful forces.
Warsi said horror as a genre is tougher to shoot because it is physically demanding.
“Fortunately, I didn't have to go through the hard work; Bhumi has gone through a lot. My part was in a comfort zone, I was not involved in scarier parts," he said, adding, he is not a great fan of the horror genre as a viewer.
Asked about the film's release on the streamer, the actor said it is more important for the film to be watched by audience, irrespective of platform.
"OTT platforms have been helpful. If they weren't there, we could have been in big trouble. OTT has been helpful to cinema though theatres will always remain relevant," Warsi said.
The actor will next be seen alongside Akshay Kumar in "Bachchan Pandey".