“Chawl me raha hoon isliye aaj bhi Bhidu bolta hoon,” says Jackie Shroff summing up his endearing earthiness.
Yes, he’s the original Jaggu dada. The affable star, who addresses photographers by their names. Who prefers sitting in the sidelines at an event leaving others to enjoy the limelight. Who still visits the chawl in Teen Batti, where he once lived and refused to move out even when he was anointed as the ‘Hero’ after his blockbuster debut. Who’d still opt for a beedi over branded cigars. A nature lover, a seeker, a sentimentalist… Jackie Shroff could well play ‘the monk who sold his Ferrari’, given his minimalist leanings. In fact, while offers for films come his way even today, he enjoys discovering life beyond showbiz. In art and life, he merely follows his heart.
A timeless star with a Sufi soul, Jackie Shroff reveals why he remains unaffected by success and failure in his own words…
“Amitabh Bachchan is an institution”
I signed Sarkar 3 because of Amitabh Bachchan. To stand in one frame with Bachchan saab is by itself a great thing. He’s an institution. There’s calmness about him. He doesn’t have to say much to be understood. Once he’s on the set, he doesn’t use his mobile even once. No one other than his make-up man can be near him. He’s always punctual.
If the reporting time given is 7 am, he’s on the set at 6 am. That’s why people respect him. Also, his sense of humour is unbelievable.
Before Sarkar 3, I’ve done Rangeela with Ram Gopal Varma. The story, the visuals and the music was excellent. The song Tanha tanha was a treat for viewers. Ramu’s a director who can match international standards. Some of his films did not do well. So what? Even
M S Dhoni does not score a century in every inning.
“I feel proud to be known as Tiger’s father”
It feels good when youngsters refer to me as Tiger’s father. When Tiger was young, I’d take him along on the sets. Then his mother Ayesha would come to pick him up. My children, Tiger and Krishna, are well brought up. I never gave them ány advice. I gave them freedom. They learn by observing things at home. My relationship with Tiger is that of a friend, but
I also maintain a distance. He’s shy and doesn’t share everything with me. He doesn’t tell me who he’s dating. There’s a lehaaz (sense of decorum) between us. I began dating Ayesha when she was 14 and I was 17. We never spoke openly about our relationship to our parents. Tiger is the same. Ek sharm hoti hai aankhon ki.
“Krishna’s bindaas like me”
My daughter Krishna’s like me. She’s bindaas. She taught kindergarten kids for a year. She teaches basketball to 18-year-old girls at the professional level and has also joined a sports company. She produced a documentary. There’s a buffet of choices for her. My wife Ayesha was also fond of sports. She wanted to become a basketball player. Looking back, Ayesha was fond of films. During our courtship, she’d watch ‘first day first show’ every Friday, while I’d be waiting outside for her. I’d drop and pick her up on my motorcycle. That was our kind of romance. Ayesha has supported me a lot in life.
“I used to queue up to use the toilet”
I used to live in a chawl at Teen Batti, a humble neigbourhood in Walkeshwar for 33 years. Every morning there would be a long queue for using the toilet. After becoming an actor too,
I continued living there. Then it became a problem for producers and directors as they’d be waiting for me to reach the set. So I had to move out. Even today I visit the place. Chawl mein raha hoon isliye aaj bhi Bhidu bolta hoon. I can’t forget my roots. When I was a teenager, I used to fight for my friends but never for myself. I’m not a person who’s angered easily.
“I’d make shirts from my mother’s sarees”
There was a Khadi Bhandar near my house. I’d buy cloth sold at `3 per metre. I’d wear shirts made out of those or get shirts made from my mother’s sarees. I’d also have shirts stitched from curtains and then paint designs on them. I had a unique style of dressing from the beginning, which I later brought to films. Like throwing a bandhini dupatta over my shoulder, which became a trendsetter.
“The worst phase was when I lost my parents”
My father was an astrologer. He had predicted that I’d become an actor though we were living in a chawl. I was attached to my parents. The most difficult phase of my life was when they passed away. Career related problems are not ‘real’ problems. They come and go. Real happiness and sorrow is connected with our near ones. There’s been a lot of pain in life. Maybe, that’s why success or failure don’t affect me now. I’m a sentimental person. The lines, “Kai dinon se dil ko koi gehra zakhm nahi pahooncha, jao zara dekh aao, saare apne kahan hai (it’s been long since I’ve been hurt, go check where your
loved ones are),” reveal that the pain of loved ones is the severest.
“I feel ashamed to go to a gym”
I never went to a gym. I feel ashamed to go to one. I can’t lift weight or exercise. I take a walk for 15 minutes. I practise vijrasan. I focus on my breathing. It’s essential to give at least 20 minutes to your body every day. It activates all the glands. Swimming was the in thing during our time. Dharmendraji had a great physique. When he took off his shirt in Phool Aur Patthar people went mad. Dara Singhji had a fab body too.
“I can conduct cooking classes”
I enjoy cooking and can conduct cooking classes. I make great good pumpkin sabzi in mustard oil. I’ve fed my children daal chawal with ghee, prepared by my own hands, in their childhood. I also cook great cabbage, cauliflower, ladyfingers and other vegetables with herbs. I love gatte ki kadhi (a Rajasthani dish).
“I feel hurt when people cut down trees”
Every morning, I enjoy my time with nature. I enjoy watching the birds and hear them sing. I feel hurt when trees are cut down. This year, on my mother’s death anniversary, I planted a Kadamba tree in her memory. “Kuch log aaye the pedh kaatne mere gaon mein, bahut dhoop hai kehkar baith gaye usiki chhaon mein (some people had come to cut trees but on spotting the harsh sun, opted to rest in its shade instead),” are inspiring lines for