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"I never tried to sell myself" : Javed Jaffery

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Javed Jaaffry is as popular on the silver screen as is he on the small one. He has become synonymous with the word 'egjacktly', after Salaam Namaste, a word that only he could carry off. Now the versatile actor is all ready to play Dhamaal with his co-stars Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warshi, Reitesh Deshmukh and Ashish Chowdhary. Wonder what he makes famous this time.

How much dhamal have you five played in the film Dhamaal?
(Laughs) We played a lot of mischief, but the most important thing is that there is no hero in the film. Everyone is a comedian and a fool. Sanjay is the police inspector, Reitesh thinks of himself as a detective, Arshad thinks he can make money by doing anything, and Ashish thinks he is so handsome and smart that girls will fall for his charms. Asrani is playing his father who loves his car more than Ashish, and slaps him at the slightest provocation. It's all about who makes a fool of the other. There is no girl and no item number in the film. It is so packed with comedy that we never felt the need to include these aspects, and the audience will not miss them either. This is a successful experiment for Inder Kumar.

Tell us about your character in the movie.
I play Manav, a man with a stammering problem, who thinks he is eight years old. Arshad plays my brother, Adi, whom Manav adores. Together, we are Adi-Manav. Manav cannot understand his brother's plans, and always messes them up.

How did you prepare for this character?
After O Darling Yeh Hai India, I have always tried to understand the character before I commit to it. I have done Fire and Jajantaram Mamantaram, both different from each other. I always try to do something new and for that I observe people. Whenever I see someone I try to imitate his gestures and postures, to the best of my ability. I store them in my mind. I watch films and documentaries to get ideas, for variety. For me an actor is a person who plays what he's not. In our industry we categorise actors as hero and character artists. But we forget that we are all characters.

Have you ever tried for further improvisation of your character during shooting?
I try to incorporate my inputs into that of director's to make things concrete. I can tell the director what I think of the character. I don't like limits but the director's decision is the ultimate decision
Was there any memorable moment during the shooting?
No, there was nothing unusual. We always had fun on the set. Once, these guys put a lobster on my belly. I started jumping around before it could reach my leg, and everyone laughed. I told them that they did not have to use lobsters – I can make people laugh without one. My leg took one and a half months to heal, otherwise it was all great fun.

Why have you not done any other children film after Jajantaram Mamantaram?
Somebody has to make me an offer. I do not own a factory like RGV, where I can churn out my own films. If I get some offers I'll definitely consider them. Children love Jajantaram Mamantaram. I do not do children's films or television programmes for the money. I do them for the love I receive from all these kids. I am still a child at heart, and I love imitating children.

Will you appear on TV for any programme other than "Boogie Woogie" and "Bam Bama Bam Gidh Pare Hum"?
I don't have time for TV right now. I do "Boogie Woogie' because I have a sense of loyalty towards it. I have decided that I will do fiction in films, and shows on television. I have several offers but I want to concentrate on films now.

How different is television from the big screen?
Very different. We pay to watch a film, and therefore watch it with more concentration. We can switch a TV off or on any time. However, I have never underestimated television – this is the medium that gave me a chance to prove myself, when I had no job in the film industry.

Despite your talent, we do not see too much of you on the big screen.
That is because my sensibilities do not match with that of some of the offers I get. I could not get a suitable role after O Darling Yeh Hai India, and I joined Channel V. People said I might as well commit suicide since no one offers you films after you appear on television. However, it was after my stint in television that I was noticed.

You are sometimes referred to as the Michael Jackson of India. You began a trend? What happened later?
True, I started it all. Prabhu Deva appeared after 8 years and Govinda after a year and a half. Prabuu is doing well because he's in the South. When they saw him dancing well, they made films with him. It made me a little sad because I never got too many chances. Actually you have to know how to sell yourself in this industry. Once Shahrukh told me that I was born 10 years before my time. Now we have several options, but we did not, then.

How did a versatile actor like you promote yourself during that period?
I never tried to sell myself. I just prayed, and hoped that the Almighty would get me a break. I decided to work harder than most, hoping someone will notice me and I would be lucky enough to be rewarded for my talent and perseverance. I met many directors, but I never begged them for roles.

Have you ever thought of becoming a choreographer?
I have choreographed, but only for myself. After college and inter-college competitions, there was Meri Jung. Choreography requires a lot of time and dedication. I refused offers for films like Agneepath and Farishtey because I did not want to be a dancer or a performer. If a role like the one in 100 Days, or Dhamaal, where I got to dance as well, came along, I would not mind.

What are your forthcoming films?
I have a lead role in a film by Rahul Mahajan. There is Shourya, where I get to work with Rahul Bose, Kay Kay Menon, Minisha Lamba and Deepak Dobrial. Forest is an American film, directed by Ashwin Kumar, whose The Little Terrorist was nominated at the Oscars. My co-stars are in this film are Nandana Sen and the child artiste, Ankur. Akshay Kumar, Ayesha Takia, Vinod Khanna and Sharmila Tagore are my co-star in Nagesh Kukunoor's Tasweer.

Sing Banega King is a comedy by Vipul Shah where I'm working with Akshay, Suniel, Dino and Katrina. Loot is a Suniel Shetty production where I have Suniel himself, Govinda and Ranveer Shourie with me. In Joker, directed by Vikram Tuli, I'm playing a father of a seven-year-old son. It is a Chaplinesque movie, with a little emotion. And as the name suggests, Bada Paw is based in Mumbai and is somewhat like Bheja Fry or Khosla Ka Ghoshla. I have the lead role in that one.

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