News Hindi

Today, every hero wants to play a great character: Chunky Pandey birthday special

In an exclusive chat with, the actor looks back at his career beginnings and discusses the lure of playing a villain.

Chunky Pandey is fondly remembered for the goofy characters he played on screen. He made his debut in former chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Pahlaj Nihalani’s film Aag Hi Aag (1987) and went on to mostly play the second lead or was seen as the hero’s friend in several films. The character of Babban, that he played in Tezaab (1988) with quiet intensity, won him a Filmfare Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor.

That his performance was noticed despite the film being the breakout performance of superstar Madhuri Dixit, is laudable and it is this intensity that one sees in his negative roles as well, which includes his villainous character in the recent Begum Jaan (2017).  

But his career path as an actor has not been an easy or a conventional one. Tired of not getting the kind of roles that he wanted to play, Pandey made a move and joined the film industry in Bangladesh. The gamble paid off and he found resounding success in his films as the hero there.

In an exclusive chat with on his birthday today, 26 September, we speak to the star about his 30 year strong career and experiences in the industry.

You began your career in the 1980s and continue to act in films, what were some of the challenges that you have faced in all these years?

I began my career with Aag Hi Aag in 1987.

And you did a tiny role in Rocky (1981) before that as well.

No, I was never in Rocky. I don’t know why people keep saying that.

There’s all this trivia about you which says that you did an uncredited role in Rocky.

No, no, I was never in that film. I started with Aag Hi Aag in 1987 and in 1988 Aamir Khan made his debut, in 1989 Salman made his debut, then Shah Rukh made his debut and then Ajay Devgn… so my honeymoon was very short lived. Every year a new star was arriving on the scene. This was also the age of VHS, so piracy became really rampant. It’s more rampant now in the digital age but it started then.

The coming of the multiplexes also changed things drastically. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is that at that time, what Govinda and I used to charge for a film could buy a one bedroom apartment in Bandra, now also what stars charge is the cost of a not a one bedroom flat but a two bedroom flat in Bandra! So that part hasn’t changed much.

In a podcast Sunny Leone said that she was really grateful to you as you were the only one who agreed to share the stage with her for her first awards show. Do you recall any such difficult moments that you had when you were a young actor trying to establish yourself in the industry?

Luckily, I had a very short struggle period. It took me just two years to break into films. I was out of college and 23 years old when I got my first break. People struggle for several years before they get a break. But I did go through a lot of rejection. I auditioned for TV roles and film roles but was turned down.

Funnily, I got my first break in the most unexpected way. I met Pahlaj Nihalani in the loo of a five star hotel! We started talking and he asked me what I do. I told him and he told me to come meet him in his office. This is how I got my first break!

In a recent interview that we did with Prem Chopra saab, he said that the era of villains was over as the hero wants to play the villain himself. You’ve been appreciated for your comedic characters but do you feel that the era of great comedians has passed as well as we are seeing a definitive shift in terms of roles?

The era of playing great characters has ushered in. Earlier, there was a kind of hero worship and the characters were centered around the hero. Today, every hero wants to play a great character and wants to do a great role. The supporting cast is important even now — actors like Sanjay Mishra and Johnny Lever do such a fantastic job. But the characters are all played by the heroes now. 

You’ve played a villain in Begum Jaan and you’ve spoken about how that was such a different role for you, but what do you see as being your most challenging role?

Actually, my role in my forthcoming film is very complex and I’m looking forward to that.

What would be a role that you would really like to do in the future? What type of a role would really excite you?

Like you said earlier, the old villain has died, but I want to play one of the crazy characters that would bring that old villainy back.

So no comic roles for you in the future?

Comedy will happen but it’s the dark characters that are the everlasting ones. A great comic character is a lot of fun and I’ve had a lot of fun playing them as well. If you remember the Nepali gangster I played in Apna Sapna Money Money (2006), I gave him a mixed Bengali accent which I created, so I like to mix it up and bring two or three characters into one comic character. It was the same with Aakhri Pasta, I played an Italian with a mix of accents, which was a lot of fun.

Since you’d mentioned the digital moment earlier, would you be open to doing a web series?

I’d love to be a part of them. I’ve always felt that one has to be very talented to be on television because there’s so much to do and one has to keep the audience engaged. So, I would love to do something on the digital platform. One also does not have the fear of fate at the box office with digital shows. In fact, I am working on something related to this which is in its nascent stages.

There has been much speculation about your daughter Ananya joining the film industry. We will find out in time whether she takes the plunge or not. But if she were to do so, as her father, what would be your advice to her?

Do not try to imitate someone else’s success story. I tell her to be unique and just to be herself. That’s the only piece of advice that I can give her.

Thank you very much for speaking to us and we look forward to seeing you in some compelling roles in the future. Wish you a very Happy Birthday!

Thank you very much.