MUMBAI — For 33 years, Jackie Shroff has been in the industry — 32 of them as a hero, beginning with the Subhash Ghai blockbuster “Hero.”
Shroff is blessed with uncommon, amazing humility and depth, altruism of a high degree, and a breezy sense of usually self-deprecating humor. And his karma is reflected in the immense popularity (as a person and star) that his son Tiger Shroff has enjoyed after just one film, “Heropanti.”
The man who began in Dev Anand’s “Swami Dada” (1982) as a junior artiste and went on to rock the box office with his above-mentioned lead debut is now enjoying the best phase of his personal and professional life with a fresh spin on his own acting career. “I now have time to relax rather than flit from studio to studio!” he chuckles.
Among other big names, Ramesh Sippy, J.P. Dutta, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, K. Vishwanath, Rajiv Rai, Chetan Anand, Priyadarshan, Rakesh Roshan and Mahesh Bhatt and later Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mohit Suri, Madhur Bhandarkar and Farah Khan, in a tally of almost 200 films, are what Shroff’s score of top filmmakers has been to date. The real-life style icon is simply thankful and grateful for a great life studded with lovely associates and unforgettable inspirations.
“Ram Lakhan,” “Kaash,” “Parinda,” “1942 – A Love Story” and more as a hero and “Aurangzeb, “Dhoom: 3” and now what we have seen of the promos of “Brothers” have also proved his acting prowess, shattering the settled myth that models cannot act! What’s more, he has just signed the laugh-riot “Housefull 2.”
In a meeting at a five-star restaurant lounge, facing the tranquil Arabian Sea, Jackie Shroff unwinds over sandwiches and green tea. The order is placed in a very Shroff-ian way: “Jo bhi health ke liye accha hai, de do, samjhi (Whatever is healthy, get it, understand)?” he says, flooring the young waitress with his charm and soothing tone.
With Shroff, what you see is what you get. There are no veneers or fake aspects to him, but his charm is in fact enhanced by his desi colloquialisms and terms of endearment.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Good and better things are happening to you after “Aurangzeb,” “Dhoom: 3” and “Happy New Year.”
A: People love that line from “Dhoom: 3,” that goes “Haath nahin chhodna saath nahin chhodna.” Aditya (Chopra) called me and said that he needed me for the emotions. The film had everything – stars and action and grandeur – but he knew that without emotions, it would not work!
Q: You have done a great variety of roles and have even shifted to character roles much before contemporaries like Sunny Deol and Anil Kapoor.
A: (Laughs) I am a big boy – thanks to my height and bone structure. I have a commanding look! But I have been experimental from the beginning! Jeans, high boots – without ever going to college, I had lots of style, and that has not left me yet! By the way, I was the first to begin an epidemic of kissing. I have kissed my heroines in nine films from Madhuri Dixit, Kimi Katkar, Juhi Chawla and Sonam to others, till I finally told my directors, “Ab bas bhi karo! (Now stop this)!”
Yes, I was okay with any role. Why should I think twice about how big or important it was when I had come here to be a villain and became a hero instead and worked with the best banners, producers, directors and co-stars? In “Swami Dada,” I had started out as Shakti Kapoor’s henchman. Then I became a hero, and they all called me for my strength, my presence and my voice.
Q: How did you get your film break?
A: I had joined Asha Chandra’s acting classes to improve my voice and my Hindi. My colleague there, Suneil Anand, introduced me to his dad, Dev (Anand)-saab, and I bagged “Swami Dada,” so I left the classes! (Chuckles) I wanted to be a villain, and I thought a role was a role, even if it was a junior artiste’s. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to work with Dev-saab. As a kid from Mumbai’s Teen Batti area, he was one of my idols, along with Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, who stayed in the vicinity.
Q: And then you worked with the cream.
A: Yes, and people did not even know what I, the real Jaggu, was like! They saw the star and cast him as per their own interpretation — as inspector, ruffian and so on!
Q: Who were your greatest inspirations in movies?
A: My biggest blessing was Dev-saab. He later called me for three of his films, and I loved being with him on “Sacche Ka Bol Bala,” “Censor” or his last film “Chargesheet.” And just look at my great luck – I worked with Dada Moni (Ashok Kumar), Dev-saab and Dharam (Dharmendra)-ji all together in “Return of Jewel Thief!” And who was I? I was like their b****y spit! Today, Dev-saab has inspired me even to look after my health. I also want to work till I am 85, standing on my feet!