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Jackie Shroff needs no introduction. He has a dozen films under making and also confesses that he has done half of them only for his friends in the industry. No wonder he has shifted to character roles in many of them. But from all his upcoming films, Eklavya appears most promising and undoubtedly so since he has given some of his career-best performances in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's films from Parinda, 1942 - A Love Story to Mission Kashmir.
You are doing a lot of films now but don't you think Eklavya is special to you?
Vidhu Vinod Chopra's all films are special to me. I received my first award for Vinod Chopra's Parinda. My second award was for 1942 A Love Story. I feel if there is any good villain after Gabbar Singh then it was my character in Mission Kashmir. Vinod has always been a fantastic director for me. All my best performances are with Vinod Chopra, so you are absolutely right when you say that Eklavya is special for me.
Right from Parinda, 1942 - A Love Story to Mission Kashmir, you have always given some of the best performances of your career with Vidhu Vinod Chopra. What is it about him that makes you give your best in his films?
He knows his actor's strength. He knows what he wants from them. He does a lot of homework and for this film as well he worked at least a year on the script. And when he was absolutely receptive, he rehearsed with me, indulged in discussions and took my suggestions. He is always open through mind and heart and the rest is history.
So considering your track record with Vidhu, can we expect another superlative act from you in Eklavya?
Absolutely! In this film you will be witnessing a role that you will definitely remember for a very long time. Working with him, it looks like I have done a hundred shoots. Just for example, in Mission Kashmir I had only seven or eight scenes but if you take me out of that movie, there is no mission in Mission Kashmir.
You are playing a negative role in Eklavya. Isn't Vidhu responsible for turning you an onscreen villain with one of your first negative roles in Mission Kashmir?
He always makes a point that I play a very progressive role. He has always given me a role that moves the story forward. There is a special bonding between me and him.
The film has a royal look and so does your character.
I play the role of a Prince. Boman Irani plays the king of a palace and I play his younger brother. My character is always unsatisfied with what he has. His needs are higher. Though he respects his elder brother, his heart wants to kill him. It's an absolutely dark shaded character that I play in the film.
Eklavya is a multi-starrer with Amitabh, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan sharing screen space with you. Was there anytime a fear of being overshadowed by the other stars?
I was never apprehensive about anything. For me actors are actors. We all are actors and I respect them as a person and for their performances. But when they are performing they are just characters to me. I don't look at them as big stars. I have done 180 films so far so they should be apprehensive, not me.
Reportedly you have also performed your own stunts in Eklavya. Is that true?
Yes, I gave two shots which were very difficult ones. In one of the scenes the train passes just six inches away from my face at the speed of 100. I judged the distance of the train during rehearsals that helped me while performing the scene. It was difficult and unsafe but I managed to do it safely.
Any memory of shooting in Rajasthan
I remember the hospitality given by everybody out there. We received so much love and affection by everyone who lives there. I used to feel that I am in my home with my people.
From all the other films that you are doing, which role are you looking forward to the most post Eklavya?
There is one film called First Fear. It's an American film. It's not a crossover film; it's a crossed-over film. I am playing devil's worshipper in that film. I have five roles in the film. It's a magical film. It has some shades of The Lord of the Rings. Anything that is magical excites me.
The remake of Qurbani by Feroz Khan looks another interesting project. When is the film going on floors?
I have no idea. Feroz Khan has signed me but nothing has been finalized yet. He may start the film sometime next year.
Tell us about your role in Fool and Final. Is it another Apna Sapna Money Money kind of comedy in the making?
I am playing a cameo in Fool and Final. It is just a guest appearance. I did it because Firoz Nadiadwala is my friend. I am doing at least six movies just for my friends. Besides that in films like First Fear, Eklavya and Thodi Si Life Thoda Sa Magic I am playing prominent roles.
Aren't you also playing Sai Baba in a film? When is that film coming out?
The film is yet to start. It will take two more months to start because they are still working on its script. This is for the first time that I am playing a saint and that is what makes it different.
Are you also doing a science fiction called 'The Channel X'?
It's not a science fiction. The Channel X is about sting operations. I play CEO of the Channel X. The film is about how all those things land me in trouble with the underworld and how I tackle it. Himanshu Brahmbhatt is directing the film. He was an assistant to Mahesh Bhatt.
Any plans to revive your production house?
May be next year I might do it. I have a very good subject on senior citizens. I am working on it. I am very busy with all my films. I'll finish these films first and then I will go on holiday. Maybe after that I'll think about my production plans.