Gulshan Grover, 57, is known as Bollywood's Bad Man because he has played the villain in Hindi films since 1981. With 400 movies behind him, that's a lot of dastardly smiles.
However, in recent times, notably after his turn in 2010's critically acclaimed film I Am Kalam, Grover has been playing characters both good and evil. In the coming weeks, audiences will be able to see him run the gamut of roles in four very different films.
In Sooper Se Ooper, Grover plays an eccentric barefoot painter (based on the late artist MF Hussain); in Bullet Raja, he plays the villain opposite Saif Ali Khan; Yaarian has him as a university dean; and in Baat Bann Gayi, the actor takes on double roles in a comedy about mistaken identity.
Did you always want to be a bad guy in the movies?
After I got my master's degree in commerce in New Delhi, I decided to come to Mumbai to pursue my love for acting. My classmates at acting school were Anil Kapoor and Mazhar Khan. It was at acting school that I realised I needed to become a brand. I believe it's better to be a baddie because baddies have a longer shelf life and don't have to depend on looks. It was a long shot for me because neither am I big nor do I have bulging muscles. I had to make many sacrifices - I even refused films that offered me the part of the hero. And once, I ran away from set.
You ran away from set?
Tatineni Rao, Bollywood's most successful director at the time, wanted me to star in Naache Mayuri (1986). He cast me as a hero but after two days into the shoot, I told Rao: "My heart is not in it. Please make me the bad guy." He wouldn't listen to me so I ran away.
Are you worried about being typecast?
Only weak actors worry about being typecast.I've always said that when the time is right, I'll break away from being the villain. I did that with I Am Kalam. My four new films that are scheduled for release will indicate how the audience has finally come to accept Gulshan Grover in different roles.
You also were one of the first Bollywood actors to break into American films.
I became one of the most famous villains in Bollywood and wanted to take it to the next level. To do that, I needed to go international.
I went to Los Angeles at a time when people did not know much about Bollywood, and got roles in Marigold (2007) and the 2011 films Desperate Endeavors and Breaking Waves. Before me, actors such as Saeed Jaffrey and Kabir Bedi had moved to the West. It took Bollywood some time to realise that if they could get Hugh Grant from the UK and Jackie Chan from Hong Kong, Indian actors could do it, too.
You've acted in so many Hindi films; is there enough time to prepare for each character? Don't you sometimes feel the need for a break?
First of all, you don't need months of preparation for a Bollywood film. Masala films don't require actors to dig deep.
Secondly, if you are obsessed with something and then actually get it - like it happened with me - you would be very stupid to say you need to rest.