I actually dressed up in a burkha to watch an adult film: Chunky Panday


He’s been a name that’s synonymous with 90s cinema. Chunky Panday has carved a niche for himself over the years with his versatility from playing the comedian in the ‘Housefull’ series to serious characters in movies like Saaho and Prassthanam. Chunky’s daughter Ananya Panday is now a Bollywood actress. In an exclusive chat with ETimes the actor spoke about parenting his kid and making her Bollywood ready, how he’s tackled the lockdown and much more. Here are excerpts from the conversation.
Do you miss going to theatres ? Describe your love for theatres?
I have always been a theatre lover. I love popcorn, samosas. I love going and laughing, crying, clapping, shouting, whistling. I love passing slight remarks I am like an audience. I would say, I am an audience first and an actor second. I love theatres, their magic
How was the experience of watching yourself on the big screen for the first time
I saw the premiere of my film, Aag Hi Aag. You know the first time I saw myself on the screen I was dubbing. I found myself looking very awkward. You know you see yourself in the mirror and then on the screen, it is very different and especially at the premiere of the film, where the whole film industry was present. I was constantly keeping a check on the people around me. More than looking at the screen I was looking at the audiences to check their reactions. So actually I don't enjoy my films too much in the theatre, I enjoy other people film because I am too stressed thinking about them.
Once the lockdown is over and theatres open up, do you see yourself watching a movie in a multiplex
Yes, I will be the first one to run. I love these multiplexes and I even love going to Gaiety Galaxy and watching films in the single screens. Like my earliest memories were to go and watch a film. As kids, we use to go and watch because that was the only entertainment also there was no television. So every Sunday we went and saw the Tarzan films, other shows, Sunday morning shows, the matinee shows, Lauren Hardey and the other things. And then in the evening, we were sometimes treated once a week by my parents, and then my grandmother would take me sometimes to watch movies.
Any memories of watching a film...
The most enjoyable movie I saw in the theatre was 'Sholay'. I enjoyed it so much, I remember I have seen it on the second day in Minerva theatre and saw back to back two shows. Actually I saw the film, I came out and then took tickets in black and again watched the second show. And then they started Dragon cinema and I remember watching 'Mukaddar Ka Sikandar' in Dragon cinema. I remember there was so bad traffic jam due to the crowd waiting to watch the movie. I also saw 'Don' at the theatre. All Amitabh movies I watched. We were all Big B fans and I also loved Rajesh Khanna. I have 'Haathi Mere Saathi', I saw that movie 20 times. I have always been a film buff.
He continues...
I saw 'Khatron Ke Khiladi' in the theatre. Sanjay Dutt, Dharamji, and me were in the film and there was a fight sequence in the film, where I, Sanjay Dutt were fighting with Dharamji and he is beating the hell out of us as he played the father in the film. I remember there was someone in the audience who shouted, 'Are Dharamji, Chunkey Pandey ko jara jyada marna'. Those kind of remarks are a lot of fun really get me excited, I felt like beating that person but at the same time I enjoyed it. But I am a person who also likes to throw money on screens in the theatre.
Things you did to watch a movie in a theatre that make you laugh now...
I will tell, I was such a bad kid in school that I remember, once I went to watch a movie in a theatre in Regal cinema and I had bunked school and went. And in the interval, you know those ads come and one slide came in saying 'Master Chunkey Panday... if you are in the cinema theatre please go out your mother is waiting for you'. You will not believe it, there was this film, 'Enter The Dragon', it was an adult film, I actually dressed up in a burkha to watch the movie. I was just 10 or 13 years old. I really a film buff. I just cannot compensate for watching a film in the theatre.
That was my next question , can you compensate for watching a film in the theatre?
No ! Nothing comes close to theatres. You may watch a movie, maybe on OTT, ma be on TV, you will enjoy it but you will never remember it. Recall only comes with a theatre. Films are made for theatres, they are not made for any other platforms. Films are made for big screens.
OTT VS Theatre debate, your comment
The debate will always be there. OTT is a great thing. It has given work to so many people in the industry, made some great stuff being made, with no censorship, it's great. People can push themselves to art and other things. Its the greatest thing that can never happen in the cinema ever. CDs came in then people said, now films will shut, then TV came in, it became bigger, again people said films will not work and now OTT came in and again the same thing happened, people said, OTT barbaad karadega cinema ko'. But again, OTT is around 4-5 years now.
So the thing is that due to the pandemic, the theatres are shut but once they open, I am sure people will hit back to the theatre. I mean, I am waiting to see the new James Bond movie to go and watch in the theatre which is releasing on November 20 I guess. If everything doesn't open, I will book a private theatre and see it. I am not going to watch a James Bond movie on a small screen.
What do you have to say to theatre owners who are worried right now?
The government must step in and do something in this as it is really trying time and in fact, I think, we should open even more cinema theatres in our country now. I mean a country like China has 80k theatres, Dubai has 60k theatres but India is the biggest film industry in the world and has only 16k theatres which are too less.
He continues...
It's a phase and the whole world is going through tough times. All are bored locked in their houses. It's a matter of time. It will take six months or can take a year but everything will come back to normal. The cheapest form of entertainment in the world is Cinema nothing compares to it. People spend more money watching a football match or any other matches. We spend more money winning and dinning but cinema theatres are something that gives you entertainment at a low price and for three hours
Are you worried about your daughter Ananya as even she has a few releases line-up?
I am not worried, everyone is in the same boat. Ananya is also a great film buff, she loves watching movies and love popcorn and samosas just like me. She sometimes drags me just because her friends refuse to go with her and Ananya is the kind who will see a film 2 or 3 times in the theatres. Hopefully, everything will get back to normal. There was this similar situation in 1986 or something when theatres were closed for almost three months. So again cinema bounced back to normal.

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