TOUCHING DOWN IN the city last week to make a guest of honour appearance at a corporate gig, the affable Chunky Pandey was his usual jovial self when he agreed to a quick chat.
“I’m here for a sort of one-night stand,” the 48-year-old joker stated with a laugh when describing the lightning quick nature of his trip. “I’m here for a dinner and then I’m off.”
Basking in the glory of the zany rom-com Housefull 2’s success in which he plays marriage counsellor Aakhri Pasta, Chunky was quite rightly pleased at how well the movie had gone down. Its moderate reviews aside, the film performed extremely well at both the domestic and especially the international box office and is set to become the highest grossing movie overseas for 2012.
We spoke to Chunky about the film and what he’s got lined up for the rest of the year.
Away from industry insiders, what sort of response have you been receiving from the man on the street for Housefull 2?
It has been nothing but positive and even as soon as I landed here I got such a beautiful reception. As I got to immigration the guy said, ‘You cannot enter Dubai.’ I asked why and he replied that I didn’t have a visa. Then he smiled and revealed he was joking. He had seen the film and that is what happens to my character in it. I was, of course, confused at first, but we had a good laugh about it. It’s amazing that people know the story so well.
How did it feel to be the only character that was carried over from the first film?
I took that as a compliment, but it also made sense for the story. With first-time films you never know how they are going to be received, but with sequels there is always a little bit more security. Could we have predicted this success though, probably not. So it’s definitely a source of pride to be a part of it, no matter what character I was playing.
What was the atmosphere like on set with so many leading names?
Apart from the cast, our director is a crazy but supremely talented man. He is the reason the atmosphere was so good. He is just as mad as the rest of us. He let us do our own thing for a lot of the time, which helped find the natural rhythm. For me he’s like the Indian Ben Stiller or Adam Sandler. He knows what it’s like for the actor and can let the comedy shine through. All the people in the film are his friends too and that is also how Sandler works.
Are you surprised how well the film did around the world?
It’s pleasing. Sometimes the comedies don’t, but it’s nice to see those around the world have a sense of humour.
You’re in Dubai a fair amount, what is it about he city that keeps you coming back?
I love Dubai. For the last two years I’ve been spending New Year’s here. It’s just like an extension of Mumbai – take a three-hour flight and we’re here. Who wouldn’t want to keep coming back?
Having a string of businesses like restaurant The Elbo Room in Mumbai, how do you balance your various endeavours?
It’s all about the team I work with. Like being an actor, you rely on your director. With my restaurant I rely on the guys running it. Dino Morea’s brother Nicolo is a famous restaurateur and runs it for me. I don’t have a lot to do with the day-to-day stuff, but I occasionally get a free meal if I’m lucky!
What have you got on the horizon?
I do a lot of comedies and I am hoping the world starts taking me a little bit more seriously, but if it isn’t broken – don’t fix it. I’ve got another crazy comedy coming out called Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum. I’m sure after that film comes out not a lot will be the same ever again!