Arshad Warsi was born in Mumbai, India, and did his schooling at a boarding school, Barnes School, Deolali in Nashik district, Maharashtra. He was orphaned at the age of 14 and struggled for a living in Mumbai during his early days. Financial circumstances forced Warsi to start work as a door-to-door cosmetics salesman at age 17. Later he worked in a photo lab. Meanwhile he had a keen interest in dancing and received an offer to join Akbar Sami's Dance group in Mumbai, which started his dancing and choreographing career. He also assisted Mahesh Bhatt in Thikana (1987) and Kaash (1987). Then in 1991, he won the Indian dance competition, followed by the fourth prize in the Modern Jazz category in 1992 World Dance championship, London, at the age of 21. Soon, he started his own dance studio, 'Awesome' with that money and also formed a dance troupe. It was here, his future wife, Maria Goretti, a St. Andrew's College student joined him, before she became a VJ. He was also associated with English theater group in Mumbai, choreographing shows for Bharat Dabholkar and got an opportunity to choreograph the title track for the film, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993).
Arshad Warsi had said in an interview that he does not connect with people who say that they can’t live without their parents. Reason being that he had studied in a boarding school since the age of eight and used to come home only twice a year. He also added that sometimes his parents forgot his holidays due to which he was left in school while the others went home. He even used to write letters to himself and asked his friends to post it to him. The comedian was a gymnastic-enthusiast in school but had to let go of the opportunity to continue in the same field. He was very angry when, at the age of nine, his father refused to grant him permission to train as a world-class gymnast on being shortlisted by two British men.
Though Arshad Warsi came from a well-to-do family, life changed for him after the demise of his parents. After the passing away of his father, Arshad moved from a bungalow to a one-room apartment. He dropped out of school after class 10 and started working to earn a livelihood. From being a cosmetics salesman to working in a photo lab, the Ishqiya actor did all that he could besides assisting Mahesh Bhatt on films like Kaash and Thikana. However, the earnings were exhausted on his mother’s dialysis before she passed away.
Arshad Warsi credits his entry into Bollywood to Jaya Bachchan who had called him up for the film, Tere Mere Sapne. In an interview, Arshad Warsi said that he almost died while talking to Jaya Bachchan when she offered him the film by ABCL. The Jolly LLB actor asserts that Jaya was the first person to tell him that he uses his comedy to hide his sensitivity. Arshad has expressed an interest in doing a film like Scarface and wants to dedicate it to Jaya as she calls him the Al Pacino of the Hindi film industry.
Arshad Warsi was a judge at the Malhar college festival where Maria Goretti was a participant. He liked her dance and she went on to become the lead dancer of his troupe. While everyone hinted at her liking for Arshad, she never accepted it until they went for their dance drama in Dubai. Arshad was very puzzled as Maria refused to convey her feelings. He gave her half a glass of beer after which she confessed her love for him. The two finally got married and are now proud parents of a boy and a girl.
Who can know the value of a family better than Arshad Warsi. The actor, who lost both his parents at an early age, is the father of two kids – son, Zeke and daughter, Zene Zoe. Reportedly, his marriage went through a rough patch when he allegedly forgot his family completely while working on his production venture. He got so engrossed in his work for about nine months that news of his marriage being in trouble made headlines. However he was quick to mend his ways and vowed to never repeat the mistake.
Arshad Warsi lost his father to bone cancer. He was all of 18 at the time. He lost his mother two years later. The family owned two buildings which they eventually lost to tenants who occupied them. After the death of his parents, Arshad and his brother moved in to a very small one-room apartment.
Acting comes second for Arshad Warsi, who loves dancing. Arshad was a choreographer before he took up an offer to act. He had joined Akbar Sami's dance group during his struggling days before he won the Indian dance competition along with fourth prize in the Modern Jazz category in World Dance championship in London at the age of 21. Arshad is still asked to choreograph in films but he says that he wants to choreograph only for himself.