I don’t want to be the hero, just give me that one part the film can’t do without, says Chunky Pandey

“I’m obsessed with all things Bengali, man. Sajid Khan and I are both fans of Amitabh Bachchan, and we took Aakhri from Aakhri Raasta, and Pasta because the character thinks he’s Italian. She liked the name and it stuck. One day, he called me and said, ‘Let’s use Chunky, my kids like the name’. I called him back and asked, ‘Are you sure you want me?’ He said yes, but I would have to audition. I love fish, my maid is Bengali, I acted in Bengali and Bangladeshi films,” he says, still laughing. For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App now In an industry where people have changed their names for lesser reasons such as astrology, what’s it like to be “Chunky”? We did Swami Keno Aswami (1997), which was a monster hit. Would you say it was as Aakhri Pasta in the Housefull series? That’s when you moved to Bangladesh to act in films there? And on Friday, the 54-year-old actor unveiled a new look as a villain in Begum Jaan, a Hindi remake of a Bengali film. But you’ve managed to get steady work. When Srijit called to say I got the part, I thought ‘Mamma Mia, he’s a joking!’
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You shaved your head for the role. What’s the trick? All the ADs were laughing because they’d just seen me play Aakhri Pasta for the third time, and here I was auditioning to be a villain. I said, ‘Lose him? One day, she got home and saw Hirabai bouncing me on her lap and cooing, “Chunky, chunky”. 2017-04-15T09:27:59+00:00″>
Updated: April 15, 2017 9:27 am

Chunky Pandey says he lost himself to step into the shoes of his character Kabir in Begum Jaan. He sent me the trailer of Rajkahini but told me not to watch the film. She was instrumental in getting me to Bangladesh. I went two days after Housefull 3 had released. We went to my hairdresser, Sapna Bhavnani, and all was going well till she whipped out a buzzer and went “Phurrrrr”. My mother was a doctor and so I spent a lot of time with Hirabai, our maid. I could have stabbed someone then, because I’ve never buzzed my hair! Srijit told me, ‘You’ve got to lose Chunky Pandey to play Kabir’. How did your role in Begum Jaan come about? I don’t want to be the hero, just give me that one part the film can’t do without. Because after I delivered the biggest hit of my career, Aankhen (1993), I was out of work. When I returned home after the look test, my maid screamed, ‘O baba, chor aa gaya!’ I thought okay, this is working, and that’s half the job done. I was getting called to play a brother, a friend — anything but just not what I wanted. Chunky Pandey and I are trading ridiculously juvenile Bengali jokes with each other and laughing with tears in our eyes. That’s commitment. Also read| Begum Jaan audience reaction: Vidya Balan film receives mixed reviews, but Chunkey Pandey surprises
Your Aankhen co-star, Govinda, has been struggling to make his comeback. I spoke in Bengali for my first film but then got my lines dubbed because I’d started dreaming that my parents were talking to me in Bangla! For my first film, Aag Hi Aag (1987), Pahlaj Nihalani asked, “Yeh Chunky kaisa naam hai?” and cast me as Suyash Pandey, which was my name anyway. In the forest, in the streets, where?’ So, he asked me to cut my hair short. Srijit Mukherji called me and said he wants me to do this film. So, if you get two of those four-five scenes, then you’re set. (1994), where I met Rituparna Sengupta. I’ve gone after stuff that is short and highly appealing. I decided that I will do films that will appeal to young people, because they had no idea who I was. I realised that in every movie, there are a handful of scenes that stand out. We meet at his bar, The Elbo Room in Khar, to chat about the film, how he got his name, and how he became a star in Bangladesh. It’s paid off, but it could have gone the other way. Then my wife said I should return to Bollywood and I agreed — it is my pehchaan. In the UK, Chunky means a person with a big rack, so I try not to use it there. And sometimes, when everybody loves a character, the actor gets some good lines. Begum Jaan isn’t your comeback. I got a part in Partho Ghosh’s Teesra Kaun? Between 1995 and 1998, I was there — I had a good time, I meddled a bit in the film distribution business, too. I’ve been very lucky, these past 10 years, with the kind of roles I’ve got.