It’s hard to believe that Sriram Raghavan and Rohit Shetty’s films could have anything in common. If there’s one thing that binds them, it’s their faith in television actress Ashwini Kalsekar. The actress has been a constant feature in films directed by both Shetty and Raghavan for a while now. In 2007, she starred in Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddaar where she played Varsha, the somewhat overbearing but feisty wife of Prakash (Vinay Pathak), one of the gambling gang members. Since then she’s starred in Badlapur and more recently, AndhaDhun. Remember her as the devoted wife to a policeman who lovingly feeds him Chinese poha and 16 eggs a day?
The actress first worked with Rohit Shetty in 2008 in Golmaal Returns. She played Munni, who speaks dodgy English and has a scary laugh. She’s since been in every Golmaal film as well as the recently released Simmba.
Her roles in each of these films may not be substantial in terms of footage, but her characters have always been integral to the plot, often getting some of the best scenes of the film. We had to ask her about her relationship with both these directors and how she ends up with great parts in all their films. Here’s what she said:
“I’ve never asked them because I feel if I make them realise the role might just go to someone else! But I would want to be a part of all their films – minuscule parts, small parts, passing shots… anything.
I was a part of a TV show called CID and Sriram sir used to write and direct some episodes initially. When he made Johnny Gaddaar I was overjoyed, it was like working with a friend. Just a call from his office and even now my hands and feet go cold. There are butterflies in the stomach. I just hope it’s for their next film.
When I got a call for Golmaal Returns I had not met Rohit sir. His assistants explained the scenes to me and I was asked to watch some film because I was supposed to copy that character. I met him directly on the set, fully dressed in costume. I remember before the first shot he said, ‘I want to see what you want to do with this character’. He’s such a huge and tall guy so you’re intimidated and then there are so many actors around. I gathered myself and showed him something – the laughter that I used – and he loved it.
For Simmba, I didn’t know I was going to play the judge. I had done workshops with Ranveer (Singh), Sara (Ali Khan) and Sonu Sood, mainly to help them with the Marathi. I was happy to be a part of his film one way or the other. I’m indebted to Rohit sir for thinking of this. So far I was only teaching my friend’s kids but never professionally because I’m not certified. Ranveer very fondly said at an interview that the readings for the film were critical and full credit to Ashwini ma’am for training us.”