Nineteen eighties’ star Chunky Panday, who is back in action these days, says he was in for a surprise when he signed Rajiv Ruia’s film ‘Ronnie & Rokky’ – he was getting paid less than a dog starring in the movie!’A dog in the film was paid more than me because the producers imported it from Hollywood,’ Chunky told us over telephone from Mumbai.
The dog’s name is Richard and it is the offspring of the dog that played Jim Carrey’s pet Milo in the 1994 Golden Globe nominated action comedy ‘The Mask’.
While Richard plays a dog that accidentally becomes animated in the film, Chunky essays the role of a pet detective in ‘Ronnie & Rokky’.
Chunky came into films in 1987 with ‘Daraar’, but it was his role in ‘Tezaab’ that brought him fame. After that he gave hits like ‘Vishwatma’ and ‘Aankhen’ among others.
In the late 1990s, Chunky took a break from Bollywood due to dearth of offers thanks to emerging actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan. He moved to Bangladeshi films and became a star there.
‘I was not getting the kind of work I wanted in Bollywood. A friend of mine forced me to do a film in Bangladesh. The money was good and I was desperately in need of money at that time, so I took the offer.
‘It was a sort of stock gamble for me. But my first film became such a huge hit that I never looked back and worked there for five years until I got married in 1998,’ he said.
The actor made a comeback in Bollywood in 2003 with supporting roles in films like ‘Qayamat: City Under Threat’ and ‘Elaan’.
However, he received a positive response for his performance in Ram Gopal Varma’s gangster thriller ‘D – Underworld Baadshah’ and it opened doors for him. Post-’D', he was seen in ‘Apna Sapna Money Money’, ‘Don – The Chase Begins’ and ‘Fool and Final’.
The actor is right now concentrating on quality rather than quantity.
‘Since I’ve come back, I’ve been doing good work though not much of it. My first innings in Bollywood was bad in terms of selections. I did movies with any producer. This time I’m choosy and I am restricting myself.
‘I believe a lot in screen life and that is the reason why I am presenting myself in a very different manner this time on-screen,’ he said.
On being asked if he was typecast as a second lead in films, he said: ‘Though I haven’t played the conventional film hero during my career, my performance as a second lead is still at par with main leads.
‘In fact, there was a certain age of children who didn’t know me. But after ‘Apna Sapna Money Money’ and my stint on TV with ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’, they have started recognising me now,’ the actor said.
Following in the footsteps of other actors, Chunky too has plans of turning producer.
‘Besides reviving my acting career, I will also get into production. The trend of cinema has changed completely over the years. Now you have a thinking and multiplex-going audience vis-a-vis earlier days. You also get easy loans from the market these days. This is the right time to make good films and good money,’ he said.
The actor, who is judging dance show ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’ on television, said he won’t be continuing with his TV stint for long.
‘TV pays you well and is a great exposure. It’s fun working as a judge than an actor because I can speak my mind. But I will take TV assignments only if I want to be compensated moneywise.
‘I want to concentrate on films because my wife has asked me to focus more on Bollywood than on anything else.’
Chunky’s forthcoming films include ‘Sankat City’, ‘Daddy Cool’, ‘Shortcut’, ‘Hello Darling’, ‘Paying Guest’ and ‘Khalbali Re Khalbali’.