Monday morning! The subah ki chai doesn’t go well without a teaspoon of gossip. So, I pull out my Mumbai Mirror munching onto some bitchy tales. (Much needed after a stale period over the weekend). The tabloid hasn’t been the same ever since a senior journo left for greener pastures, but Mirror is still the most spoon-fed paper in the country.
So, I come across a catchy headline, ‘Jackky nudges Arshad out of the frame’.
At first sight, I’m sure this is just another PR gimmick, perhaps only way a small film, produced by Vashu Bhagnani and starring his competent son Jackky, can make it to a top tabloid. No motive to read the story in detail, so I just go through it like flipping a page Not knowing though by nightfall, this story could snowball into a actor v/s media battle.
So, at around 11.pm in the night, I see a long message (article) on a WhatsApp group for media, bemoaning how its become common for actors (I don’t call Bollywood actors stars) to insult journalists publicly. (No one hurts you more like Virat Kohli) . Rubbing a journo the wrong way this time is the usually media-savvy Arshad Warsi.
So, at the press conference of Welcome to Karachi, Arshad Warsi arrives with a bad throat. He then mocks at a senior journo after she questions him how they used the words ‘WADTHEF**K’ in the film.
“We went to the Himalayas and took a couple of hours” sighed Arshad, before muttering, “SILLY question, next plz’.
Next to irk Warsi was a journalist who pronounced film as flim. The scribe explained just like Arshad’s bad throat, he had a problem with his tongue. To which Arshad replied, “Mera toh gala kharaab hai, tumhara kya dumaag kharab hai?” (I have a sore throat, have you lost your brains?)
The shocker though came when Jackky Bhagnani was asked a question about him replacing first-choice Irrfan Khan for the titular role. Before he could answer, Arshad stepped in slamming the Mumbai Mirror journalist who allegedly twisted his quote to create controversy.
“I never said Irrfan was a better choice or he should have been in the film. I said Irrfan is a different actor and Jackky makes the film younger. Also, I never said Lauren Gottlieb isn’t even the heroine of the film,” said Arshad reportedly.
These words made me pick up my Mirror again and this time I read every word of the story. Now, as a journalist when you are accused of twisting word’s the first thing that you do is recheck the quotes.
For the record, the story was about how a song that (reportedly) was meant to have Arshad in it, was shot without him. Arshad offered a different version, while producer Vashu Bhagnani had a different take.
Here Arshad’s quotes though
“I wasn’t called much so I just chilled out in the van”
Vashuji wanted the song to be about Jackky and me and not Jackky and Lauren Gottlieb, who’s not even the heroine of the film. I guess Bosco didn’t know the concept and that’s why the portrayal was all wrong“
On having to reshoot the song
“But there are times when you can’t avoid it. This is the only song which has the actors lip-syncing to it, the others all play in the background. And this is the first time I’m doing a full-fledged film with a co-star whose FATHER IS THE PRODUCER”
On Jackky replacing Irrfan
But I wish Irrfan had done it,” he sighs. “I enjoyed working with him in Krazzy 4 and Sunday and had he done it, this film would have been a different experience. Jackky is a younger co-star, he’s made the film more youthful
Now, let’s compare this to what Arshad chided at the press conference,
“I never said Irrfan was a better choice or he should have been in the film. I said Irrfan is a different actor and Jackky make the film younger. Also, I never said Lauren Gottlieb isn’t even the heroine of the film”
Isn’t it evident that barring his quote on Lauren Gottlieb, the scribe hasn’t misquoted a single word to what Arshad alleged in the press conference.
Arshad signed off with a warning to the journo. “I’LL RIP YOUR ASS”
Wow,, now that’s an assault not just to the concerned scribe, but an insult to the entire fraternity. Often the jilted scribes moan over it hours later on Whatsapp and other social media. Some were quick to cite other examples, one even urged a senior pro to write a feature on ‘media insulted by stars’. Well, I wonder what’s the point in moaning over it now? And featuring these insults would only add more salt to injury.
Well, while I empathize with my brethren but honestly speaking, is this really another case of star insulting the media?
Well, looking at the article and Arshad’s jibes at the press conference, I suspect that rather an insult to the media, this could well be a classic case of an actor and scribe joining hands to mock at a meek party – THE BHAGNANIS?
As stated earlier, save for his words on Lauren Gottlieb, Arshad Warsi wasn’t misquoted as he alleged in the PC. Thus beg a few pertinent questions.
Was Arshad merely defending himself or was he proclaiming his innocence to the Bhagnanis?
Did Arshad use the media to vent his frustrations at the Bhagnanis?
Isn’t Arshad unhappy to reshoot the song, and isn’t it clear that he’d preferred a great actor like Irrfan than having a flop producer’s incompetent son?
What was the point in mentioning that this is the first time where he’s doing a full-fledged role in a film who’s co-actor is the son of the producer?
Now, I may be running my imagination wild, but this imagination is borne from similar experiences.
It would be unethical for me to name those actors, but I’ve done such stories where an actor has clearly demarcated the off-the-record stuff from the on-the-record ones.
A reality TV winner, now a respected film actor once told me how the IPL after parties were full of sleaze. He’d named a swashbuckling southpaw of dirty dancing with a cheer leader
Similarly, there was another tale of TV actor slamming a super hero film, and a flop hero after his brief role was chopped off allegedly at the behest of the lead actor. In the final print, though these actors always rubbished such reports.
Well, the ‘Arshad-Warsi-insults-media’ saga makes a strong pitch for a classic actor-journo creation. After all, the actor gets an opportunity to vent his anger, while the journalist gets his spicy story. In Munnabhai and Circuit’s parlance, that would be termed as, “Aye bhai, apun toh media ko Mamu banaya’
My suspicion has only grown stronger after Arshad Warsi tweeted that he was only joking and that the media failed to understand his sense of humour. That rules out any ‘ripping ass’ by Warsi. Also, he’s vowed not to share his humor with the media again., But Mr.Warsi, truth be told, it’s not us but the Bhagnanis who wouldn’t be pleased a wee bit. I doubt whether they’ll ever Welcome you to Karachi or Mumbai!
In the likelihood of the film bombing, don’t be surprised if you find Arshad and the scribe sipping coffee at another press conference. Till then, think twice before you want to watch ‘Welcome to Karachi’.